Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s quixotic quest against Common Core took a major blow in federal court Wednesday, with a judge ruling that Jindal’s lawsuit lacks any real basis in reality.
Jindal, after trying unsuccessfully to dump Common Core by executive order, filed a federal lawsuit last year arguing that Common Core is a national curriculum illegally imposed on the states in violation of the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. He based his argument on the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program, which incentivized the adoption of Common Core by improving states’ chances of getting millions in federal aid. (RELATED: Jindal’s Common Core Crusiade: Principle, Or Opportunism?)
But Shelly Dick, an Obama appointee to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, says there’s no evidence Race to the Top forced the adoption of Common Core.
“The evidence supports the finding that participation in both programs is completely voluntary and not unconstitutionally coercive,” Dick said in her decision. She said the idea the federal government imposed specific curricula didn’t make sense, because there was no evidence the Department of Education had any role in writing Common Core (which was created through the collaboration of state governments). (RELATED: Jindal Admin: Common Core Is Illegal Federal Scheme)
Not only was Common Core not forced on Louisiana, Dick said, but it couldn’t be an illegally imposed curriculum because it isn’t a curriculum in the first place.
“Standards represent the goals sought to be attained, whereas curriculum specifies the means and methods to be used in attaining those goals,” said Dick. “Simply put, if a (school system) wishes to teach math skills by counting fingers and toes or by using flash cards or some other means, such is [their] sole choice and prerogative.”
While Jindal said his lawsuit was intended to block federal retaliation should Louisiana quit Common Core, Dick said Jindal didn’t show there was any risk of such retaliation in the first place. She noted that several other states have quit Common Core without facing the retaliation Jindal claimed was threatening his state.
Jindal’s attorney Jimmy Faircloth said the governor plans to appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The debate itself may be pointless, though, as earlier this year the Louisiana legislature passed legislation creating a committee to review Common Core and recommend possible changes to it. (RELATED: Compromise Could End Common Core In Louisiana)
While Dick’s ruling concerned only Jindal’s request for a preliminary injunction against the Department of Education, she indicated that Jindal’s broader lawsuit was very unlikely to succeed on the merits.
Jindal was once a vocal supporter of Common Core, but turned sharply against it in early 2014, alienating several Republican allies in Louisiana. These allies, such as state school board president Chas Roemer, accused Jindal of cynically flip-flopping in the hope that it would bolster his eventual 2016 presidential campaign.
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