- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Gov. Bobby Jindal’s attack on the Common Core education standards has faltered at every step, the latest failure coming at the hands of a federal judge who rejected the governor’s claims against the standards.

Despite the string of defeats, the effort gave Jindal the ability to insist he was working to jettison the standards as he runs for the Republican presidential nomination, and that might just have been the point of the taxpayer-funded legal strikes at Common Core.

Louisiana’s public school students are being taught with the multistate standards.

The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They have been adopted by more than 40 states to better prepare students for college and careers.

Opponents, including Jindal, say the standards are developmentally inappropriate and part of federal efforts to nationalize education. The Louisiana governor once supported the standards, but changed his position as Common Core became more unpopular in the GOP.

He’s been unable to persuade the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, known as BESE, or state lawmakers to strip Common Core from Louisiana’s classrooms, however, even as he heightened his criticism.

Jindal tried to suspend testing contracts last year tied to the state’s use of Common Core, saying the education department and BESE didn’t properly follow Louisiana’s procurement law in the contract award. Parents, teachers and a charter school organization sued, and the state education board joined in the lawsuit.

In August 2014, state district court Judge Todd Hernandez lifted Jindal’s contract suspension and said the Jindal administration didn’t provide any evidence to support the governor’s claims that contracting law was violated.

Common Core standardized testing for students in third through eighth grade continued as planned last spring. And three months ago, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeal upheld Hernandez’s decision. A three-judge panel said Jindal’s attempt to halt the testing contracts was an “unconstitutional interference” with the education department and BESE.

Jindal is appealing.

After Hernandez’s rejection of Jindal’s attempt to derail the Common Core testing, the governor went to federal court.

He sued the U.S. Department of Education, accusing it of manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and policy waivers to illegally pressure states to adopt the English and math standards and associated testing.

On Wednesday, Jindal lost that fight as well.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick rejected the governor’s request to block federal officials from penalizing his state if it quits using Common Core, saying Jindal failed to show any such threat exists.

As she refused the governor’s motion for a preliminary injunction against the education department, Dick was direct in suggesting Jindal would have difficulty winning his broader lawsuit against the federal agency.

Jindal claimed in his lawsuit that the education department’s actions forced states to move toward a national education curriculum in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal law.

In her 33-page ruling, Dick rejected those claims, saying Jindal provided “no evidence” his state was made to adopt a particular set of education standards, curriculum, instructional programs or testing.

“The evidence supports the finding that participation in both (the grant and waiver) programs is completely voluntarily and not unconstitutionally coercive,” the judge wrote.

Jindal’s lawyer Jimmy Faircloth said he will appeal that ruling.

Meanwhile, in the last legislative session, getting rid of Common Core was one of the governor’s top priorities. But he couldn’t get it done.

Rather than prohibit use of Common Core, the Legislature required a widespread review of the individual standards to determine which ones it might want to keep, reject or tweak, with public meetings, legislative oversight and an up-or-down vote from the governor.

That review won’t be complete until after Jindal, who is term-limited, leaves office in January.

If Louisiana ever scraps Common Core, it won’t be on Jindal’s watch, and it appears it won’t be because of his efforts.

Jindal may have gotten talking points, but he can’t claim victories against Common Core.

___

EDITOR’S NOTE: Melinda Deslatte covers Louisiana politics for The Associated Press.

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