Louisiana’s new Democratic governor says he plans to abandon Bobby Jindal’s idealistic lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core, arguing that a new federal education law has made the costly suit pointless.
Back in August 2014, Jindal sued President Barack Obama’s administration, claiming it was illegally forcing states to use Common Core education standards through a variety of pressure tactics, such as awarding stimulus funds and offering waivers from certain federal regulations.
The lawsuit made Jindal the most high-profile politician attacking Common Core, and several of his fellow Louisiana Republicans claimed it was motivated by the desire to bolster his presidential ambitions rather than sound legal reasoning.
Whatever the motivations, the suit was totally unsuccessful for its first 18 months. A district court judge ruled that Jindal had offered virtually no evidence to support his claim, and currently the suit awaits an appeal before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. By September of last year, the lawsuit had cost the state close to a million dollars.
But now Jindal’s replacement, John Bel Edwards, who took office in January, says there’s no reason to keep pursuing the suit, even though he also opposes Common Core.
In December, Congress passed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced No Child Left Behind, and among other things, prohibits the federal government from using any form of coercion to stay on Common Core. Edwards said this new law nullified any reason Jindal had for his lawsuit, making it “educationally and financially unnecessary.”
“It does not benefit students to continue to use time and resources to pursue litigation that no longer has any bearing on classrooms in Louisiana,” Edwards said in a statement. “Instead, we need to focus on doing everything possible to provide students and teachers with the support they need to ensure a quality educational system.”
Edwards also pointed out that thanks to a legislative compromise passed last year, the state is already working out a set of standards that will replace Common Core, at least in name. Earlier this week, a state panel issued a set of recommendations that would involve keeping about 80 percent of Common Core, while making adjustments to the remaining 20 percent. (RELATED: New Jersey Will Keep Almost All Of Common Core)
But despite Edwards’ order, the lawsuit may just be mostly dead, rather than all dead. Louisiana’s new Attorney General Jeff Landry released a statement claiming the final decision to abandon the suit was his, not Edwards’.
“I am intervening in this case and I will determine if it will proceed,” Landry said in a statement. “I want to be sure the U. S. Department of Education is not holding our local schools hostage.”
Landry’s defiance may be partly partisan — Edwards is a Democrat and Landry is a Republican. In respond to Landry’s claim, Edwards said if Landry wanted to sustain the suit he would have to do so with his department’s own funds.
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