Feds Want Jindal's Common Core Lawsuit Dismissed

BATON ROUGE (AP) — The Obama administration wants a federal judge to throw out Gov. Bobby Jindal's lawsuit accusing it of illegally coercing states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

         A request was filed in Baton Rouge federal court this week, asking for the Republican governor's lawsuit to be dismissed.

         Jindal's lawsuit accuses the U.S. Department of Education of manipulating $4.3 billion in federal grant money and federal policy waivers to force states to adopt Common Core, in a move toward a "national curriculum" that strips educational authority from states.

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         The governor said that violates the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.

         Lawyers for the Obama administration said in their court filing that the use of Common Core was voluntarily decided by state leaders and Jindal hasn't proven any arm-twisting occurred from the federal government.

         "The Governor cannot meet his burden of establishing that Louisiana has suffered or will imminently suffer a concrete and particularized injury," lawyers representing the federal education department wrote.

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         Participation in the federal grant program, known as Race to the Top, and the regulatory waiver program "is entirely voluntary and neither establishes a curriculum. States that chose not to participate in either initiative — and indeed a number of States chose not to — suffered no consequences with respect to pre-existing federal funding or otherwise," the motion says.

         A hearing on the dismissal request has been scheduled for Nov. 20.

         The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students' performance. More than 40 states, including Louisiana, have adopted them.

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         The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top program. Two state testing consortia received $330 million from the grant program to develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.

         "We agree that requiring certain standards is not necessarily directing curriculum. But requiring certain standards along with requiring certain assessments to achieve those standards is clearly directing curriculum," Jindal's attorney Jimmy Faircloth said in a statement.

         When Louisiana's education board adopted the standards in 2010, Jindal supported them, saying they would help students better prepare for college and careers. But the governor has since changed his mind.

         The Common Core standards remain in Louisiana's public school classrooms, however, and plans are on track to use standardized tests aligned with the standards in grades three through eight this spring.

         State lawmakers, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and Louisiana's education superintendent have refused to scrap Louisiana's use of the standards. Before he filed the federal lawsuit, Jindal tried to derail Common Core by suspending testing contracts, but a state judge lifted that suspension.

         – by AP Reporter Melinda Deslatte

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