Gov. Jindal pushes judge to block Common Core tests

Common Core began as an effort to raise education standards but, Gov. Bobby Jindal contends, has “morphed into a scheme to drive education curriculum from Washington, D.C.” largely through the tests to be used to assess how well students are learning the material.

That’s why, the governor said Wednesday, he has filed court papers urging a judge to bar Louisiana education officials from using Common Core tests in the state’s public schools.

The new standards in reading, writing and math are supposed to take effect for the 2014-15 school year, with assessments scheduled next spring.

But Jindal wants state District Judge Todd Hernandez to forbid the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and the state Department of Education from administering any standardized tests developed through the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, a testing consortium aligned with Common Core.

“Common Core and PARCC supporters are now arguing that without a test in place for the upcoming school year, teachers don’t know what to teach,” Jindal said in a prepared statement. “If Common Core is just about standards though, then why would the superintendent and BESE president be worried about one test? The answer is because it’s about curriculum. Tests drive curriculum for the school year.”

The governor contends Louisiana’s agreement with PARCC is an illegal attempt to federalize education in the state.

“Congress drew a bright red line that can’t be crossed and it clearly bars the federal government from ‘directing, supervising, or controlling elementary and secondary school curriculum, programs of instruction and instructional material,’” Jindal said. “Implementing PARCC in Louisiana crosses the line because what’s tested is what’s taught.”

Common Core is the focus of two lawsuits filed last month in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge.

The first was filed by 17 state lawmakers to halt implementation of the controversial academic standards. Their suit claims BESE and the Department of Education failed to follow the Administrative Procedures Act, which critics say was a required step that would have allowed crucial public input.

A hearing in that case is scheduled Aug. 15 in front of state District Judge Tim Kelley.

The second suit, filed the day after the legislators’ suit, was filed by a group of parents and teachers who accused Jindal of illegally trying to derail the academic standards and companion tests.

Hernandez has scheduled hearings in that suit, in which the governor intervened, for Aug. 12 and Aug. 18.

In June, Jindal ordered the state out of Common Core and the assessments that are supposed to accompany it, starting with the 2014-15 school year. State Superintendent of Education John White and BESE are fighting the governor’s directive.

Backers say 45 states have adopted Common Core and that the new rules are needed to improve student achievement, especially in low-performing states like Louisiana.