Our Views: Only good for lawyers

It’s time for the fall season of Litigation Theatre, starring Gov. Bobby Jindal, as the man who was for Common Core before he was against it, and the poor taxpayers of Louisiana, who are footing the bill for the governor’s favored lawyer Jimmy Faircloth to file a lawsuit against the United States government.

A bit player is U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who rightly dismisses this whole second act of Jindal’s reversal of his long-held support of Common Core. “It’s about politics, not about education,” Duncan told CBS.

Nothing good can come of this, except for the lawyers. Faircloth has a history of losing the governor’s political lawsuits, a record that rivals the Chicago Cubs’ long search for a pennant.

Jindal challenges in federal court the constitutionality of the academic standards he now sees as a U.S. government takeover of Louisiana’s preciously guarded sovereignty.

“The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” the governor said in a statement. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”

Save that for the Iowa rallies, governor. The notion that Duncan’s department is interested in taking over the day-to-day teaching of English and math in Louisiana public schools is a fantasy.

In Louisiana courts, although there are still taxpayer-funded appeals to be heard, two judges have rejected various Jindal arguments about Common Core, which is in the process of being adopted as standards — not a curriculum, but academic goals — in Louisiana classrooms.

That multiyear process is the one that the governor now seeks to derail. Thank goodness for the continued support of Common Core by Education Superintendent John White and the majority of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

BESE’s support of raising academic goals for Louisiana’s classrooms is the right policy for our children. But one of our problem children turns out to be our governor, because of the politics of a putative presidential race. He says he hasn’t made up his mind to run, and you can believe that if you want to. But the flip-flop on Common Core, now that it has become a hot-button issue on the political right, suggests that political considerations are foremost.

Faircloth’s legal argument, if one can call it that, is based on the support that Duncan’s department has given Common Core, including grants to the test-formulation groups set up by the states. Among the complaints in the lawsuit: The Race to the Top grants that Louisiana and other states applied for are an insidious death grip on local curriculums and classrooms.

We don’t know if a judge will buy that, as the federal government gives money to states for various purposes all the time, and those particular “Race to the Top” grants were applied for by the governor who now sees through Comrade Duncan’s scheme.

We don’t expect the second act of Litigation Theatre to have a long run in the courts, but we suspect the poor people of Iowa and New Hampshire are going to hear about it during the next presidential election, however bad the judges’ reviews.