Today, Governor Bobby Jindal filed suit in federal court arguing President Obama’s U.S. Department of Education has violated the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and federal law by coercing states to adopt Common Core standards and assessments.
Last week, the state court rejected his arguments stating the administration presented no evidence to support the preliminary injunction.
In his five-page ruling, District Judge Todd W. Hernandez of Baton Rouge ruled that Jindal’s plan would cause “irreparable harm” to students, teachers and parents who have been preparing for the new standards for years. He also dismissed the administration’s argument that the state education department violated procurement law in the way it planned to deliver the Common Core tests to students.
Governor Jindal argues that the Obama Administration has used federal grants to compel states to enter binding agreements to adopt and fully implement a single set of federally-defined content standards and to utilize assessment products created by a federally-sponsored “consortia.” Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Education has made changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) state test review and approval process that will coerce states to adopt the federal government’s preferred tests or risk billions in federal funding. The suit argues that these actions violate long-standing limitations by Congress on the role of the federal government in education policy.
Governor Jindal said, “The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative. Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything. What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be ‘voluntarily’ used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum.
“The proponents of Common Core will tell you that it’s simply about one test and about standards, but that’s a ruse. Common Core is about controlling curriculum. Educators know that what’s tested is what’s taught. Make no mistake – Common Core tests will drive curriculum. Common Core supporters should own up to this fact and finally admit they want to control curriculum. These are big government elitists that believe they know better than parents and local school boards.
“Through the federally funded consortia, PARCC, along with Race to the Top grants, the federal government has coerced states into giving up local control of education. The federal government’s actions are in violation of the Constitution and federal law and we will continue to fight to protect local control of education.”
The Governor’s lawsuit states that the U.S. Department of Education has used grants and federally commissioned consortia to herd states together in an effort to nationalize curriculum. Through the Race to the Top grant process, the federal government funded two consortia, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) to implement the objectives of nationalizing curriculum. The lawsuit argues that PARCC and SABC are agents of the federal government in the implementation of nationalized curriculum
Furthermore, the lawsuit maintains the U.S. Department of Education has unlawfully used waivers to allow states to waive accountability requirements in exchange for adopting Common Core standards and assessments as well as made changes to the ESEA state test approval process to coerce states to use the U.S. Department of Education’s preferred tests or risk billions in federal education funding.
In 2010, to be in compliance with Race to the Top grant requirements, the State of Louisiana entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with PARCC. The filing argues, “The good intentions of Common Core and the ‘voluntariness’ of PARCC participation have proven to be illusory. In fact, Louisiana now finds itself trapped in a federal scheme to nationalize curriculum. What started as good state intentions has materialized into the federalization of education policy through federal economic incentives and duress.”
The lawsuit seeks a declaration that the U.S. Department of Education has violated federal statutes and the Tenth Amendment by requiring, as condition to grant funding under the Race to the Top programs, that states join a consortium of states under federal direction and to adopt Common Core standards and assessment products created by the consortium. The lawsuit also seeks an injunction to enjoin the Department’s use of such unlawful conditions in connection with further awards and from disqualifying or penalizing a state that withdraws from a consortium and refuses to further participate in the scheme.
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