- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - A state judge heard arguments Monday from lawyers for teachers and parents who support the Common Core education standards and want Gov. Bobby Jindal’s actions against the multi-state standards invalidated.

District Judge Todd Hernandez didn’t immediately rule on the preliminary injunction request, saying he needed to sift through the volumes of evidence presented in the more than five-hour hearing.

The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. More than 40 states have adopted them.

Seven parents and two teachers, along with a charter school organization, sued Jindal after he suspended contracts the education department planned to use to buy testing material aligned with Common Core. The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, joined in suing Jindal.

They allege the Republican governor violated constitutional provisions that establish authority over education policy in Louisiana. They say Jindal has harmed students, teachers and parents with his efforts to stop Common Core-tied standardized testing that has been planned for years.

“The school year’s already started, and confusion grows and harm grows every day,” said Stephen Kupperman, attorney for the plaintiffs.

Jindal’s lawyer, Jimmy Faircloth, said the governor exercised his statutory authority over state contracting and did nothing improper.

He said the administration determined the education department and BESE didn’t properly follow Louisiana’s procurement law and needed to seek competitive bids for the contract. Faircloth said the governor simply required them to follow contracting law.

“How in the world can that be unconstitutional? It’s not,” he said.

Jindal once supported Common Core as improving student preparation for college and careers. But the governor now opposes the standards as an effort by President Barack Obama’s administration to meddle in state education policy.

Education Superintendent John White and a majority of BESE members still support Common Core, and state lawmakers also have refused to stop use of the standards.

At issue in Monday’s hearing was Jindal’s executive order in June partially suspending the education department’s testing contracts.

Kupperman said the action overstepped Jindal’s authority. He said the order attempts to circumvent constitutional provisions that give education policy-setting authority to the Legislature and implementation authority to the education board.

Greg Murphy, a lawyer for Jindal’s Division of Administration, said the education department was trying to go beyond the scope of the contract that was approved by the governor’s contractual review office in 2011.

“We were sold a bag of goods,” Murphy said.

Lawyers for those suing Jindal called four witnesses to the stand, including White. No witnesses were called by attorneys for the governor’s administration.

Courtney Dumas, an Ascension Parish teacher, said Jindal’s stalling of testing plans has created upheaval in schools.

“I don’t think it’s fair to these students or to these teachers who are just completely lost,” she said.

White spent three hours on the stand, in often contentious exchanges with Faircloth over the scope of the dispute, the impact of Louisiana’s agreement with a multi-state testing consortium and even the phrasing of Faircloth’s questions.

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