June 20, 2014

Jindal Breaks With Common Core

Gov. Bobby Jindal pulls his state out of the federal education standards.

Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal withdrew his state from Common Core, the federal government’s awkward and cumbersome attempt to control public education. Louisiana is not the first state to balk at the Common Core initiative, but Jindal’s decision to back out of the program makes news in part because he was an early supporter. He is also a potential 2016 presidential candidate, so every move he makes will be scrutinized by the media. Education Secretary Arne Duncan accused Jindal of making a cold political calculation, giving further proof that in politics, you’re only a flip-flopper if you change your mind against leftists. Otherwise, it’s known as “evolving.”

The Common Core standards once had a lot of support among the potential 2016 GOP presidential crowd. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush and Scott Walker were all vocal supporters of the program back in 2009, although it’s hard to see why. Common Core was always about giving more power to the federal government to control public school education. It was developed out of a need to fix the No Child Left Behind fiasco, itself a failed attempt at federalization of a task best left to local school districts.

Political analyst George Will nailed it in his own explanation of what Common Core truly is: “This is the thin end of an enormous wedge of federal power that will be wielded for the constant progressive purpose of concentrating power in Washington so that it can impose continental solutions to problems nationwide.”

Forty-five states have embraced Common Core, but largely because of the federal grant money that comes with accepting the yolk of federal largesse. Some states were so eager to receive the funds, they signed up for the program before they even had a chance to evaluate its functionality. Some have found out too late that Common Core doesn’t fit with the needs of their students, but they’ve already been bought and paid for by Washington, so they have little if any flexibility to make a change.

This makes Jindal’s move brash and worthy of support, regardless of the potential political calculus behind the move. His actions have put him not only at odds with Washington, but with his own state’s education department, whose head, John White, claims Jindal does not have the authority to back out of Common Core. “State and federal law have long required that Louisiana measure literacy and math performance through standards and annual tests,” White claims. Both sides expect the issue to go to court.

Jindal notes that Common Core has not been fully implemented in his state, so “we need to start the process over. It was rushed in the beginning and done without public input.” His actions are sure to give rise to other states willing to shake off some of the chains of bondage that Washington is continually placing on them.

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