Common Core dispute heads to court next week
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — After months of traded accusations between Gov. Bobby Jindal and Louisiana's education leaders, the heated public feud over the Common Core education standards shifts to courtrooms next week.
Hearings are scheduled in dueling lawsuits, one suit that seeks to scrap the multi-state standards in public school classrooms and the other that wants Jindal forced to stop meddling with Common Core.
Up first is a Tuesday hearing in which Jindal is asking Judge Todd Hernandez to dismiss parts of a lawsuit filed by parents and teachers who support Common Core and accuse the governor of violating the Louisiana Constitution in his actions against the standards.
The Jindal administration also is asking the judge to forbid the questioning of the governor, Commissioner of Administration Kristy Nichols and other administration officials under oath as part of depositions for the lawsuit.
On Friday, Judge Tim Kelley hears arguments in a lawsuit filed by 17 state lawmakers, led by Rep. Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles, against the state education board and education department, alleging they didn't follow the law in moving Louisiana to Common Core. The lawmakers want use of the standards immediately suspended.
The Common Core standards are English and math benchmarks that have been adopted by more than 40 states, describing what students should know after completing each grade.
Jindal once supported the standards as improving student preparation for college and careers. But the Republican governor, considering a 2016 presidential campaign, now opposes them as an Obama administration effort to meddle in state education policy.
"When Common Core was first proposed, it was presented as a bottom-up state approach to standards. The reality is what it has become is another tool for the federal government to try to dictate curriculum to local schools here in Louisiana. That's unacceptable," Jindal said this week.
But Education Superintendent John White and a majority of members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, still support Common Core. State lawmakers also refused to stop use of the standards.
Jindal issued executive orders in June that suspended contracts the education department intended to use to buy testing material aligned with the standards. He said the education department needed to seek competitive bids for the work.
White and BESE President Chas Roemer said the governor overstepped his legal authority. The education board has joined the pro-Common Core lawsuit claiming that Jindal's actions don't comply with constitutional provisions governing education policy.
"We don't live in a state where one man can overrule the constitution," Roemer said.
While the lawsuits wind through the courts, Geymann said Friday that he and five other lawmakers will travel to Oklahoma on Aug. 22 to talk with legislators who led successful efforts there to repeal Common Core.
"We're going to go meet with them and visit with them about how they handled it, and get some ideas on legislation as well. We're plowing forward and looking for a solution, in spite of all the bickering," Geymann said.