U. S. education chief chides Jindal's Common Core stance

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Tuesday accused Gov. Bobby Jindal of doing a turnaround on Common Core because of politics.

“Gov. Jindal was a passionate supporter before he was against it,” Duncan said on “CBS This Morning.”

“So this finesse situation is about politics, it is not about education,” he said.

“And frankly that is part of the problem. Republican, Democrat, ideology, we need to put all of that to the side,” Duncan said. “We need to help all of our children be successful, and we need to come together behind that.”

Asked for comment, Jindal’s office issued a prepared statement from the governor that says, “We will not be bullied by the federal government.

“The proponents of Common Core claim it is not a federal takeover, but Secretary Duncan’s comments and actions prove otherwise. He has already threatened Oklahoma with a loss of funding, and we may be next.”

The Oklahoma Legislature recently passed a bill to remove that state from Common Core.

Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican like Jindal and former backer of the standards, signed the legislation.

Jindal has said he wants the state out of Common Core and the tests that go with it.

How and when he plans to do that is unclear.

However, there are signs that the Jindal adminstration may take action to cripple the ability of the state Department of Education to purchase the exams that go with the standards.

The state’s nearly $25 billion operating budget, including funds for the state Department of Education, is awaiting action by Jindal.

The tests are being developed by a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

A variety of efforts to shelve the standards and the tests failed during a three-month legislative session that ended on June 2.

Common Core includes new standards in reading, writing and math. They are supposed to take full effect for the 2014-15 school year.

Backers said the new academic goals will improve student achievement and better prepare students for college and careers. Critics say the standards have too much input from federal officials and would drive the curriculum in local school districts.

Jindal is considered a longshot 2016 GOP presidential nominee.

Some state officials, including fellow Republican Chas Roemer, president of the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, have said the governor’s criticism of Common Core, which Roemer backs, is driven by his presidential ambitions.

Jindal has waved away suggestions that his Common Core stance stems from any national hopes.

“Other people can play politics,” he said earlier this month.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog.