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Jindal faces steep climb to pull Louisiana out of Common Core

An early and vocal supporter of Common Core, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced last week that he aimed to pull the state out of the Common Core program. But without support from the state Legislature, his efforts have sparked a struggle that will likely end in court.

Jindal's problem is that the state's participation is locked in by law, and the Legislature doesn't seem interested in pulling out. So in a series of quick moves and counter moves over the past several days, Jindal's administration has sought to raise barriers to the state's purchasing the tests needed to implement Common Core, while the state school superintendent has sought to evade Jindal's constraints.

Immediately after Jindal's announcement last week, state officials held dueling press conferences.

"Within an hour of Jindal’s announcement," Politico notes, "state Superintendent John White was telling reporters that the governor had no authority to back out of the Common Core or scrap the exam the state was planning to use, which was developed by a federally subsidized consortium known as PARCC."

"A few hours after that," Politico continued, "the state commissioner of administration held her own news conference to say that White had exceeded his authority. Not only that: She was suspending the contract that the state education department had planned to use to purchase and administer PARCC test questions. The commissioner, Kristy Nichols — a former deputy chief of staff to Jindal — said the way White had structured the testing deal may have violated the state’s contracting laws."

"Under Louisiana law, the Department of Education and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education are prohibited from entering into a contract for the purpose of circumventing the laws governing procurement," Kristy Nichols, who manages the state's contracts for Jindal, said in a statement, quoted by the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"White and Roemer have questioned whether the Jindal administration has the authority to suspend such a contract. The dispute makes it likely the two branches of government will end up in court. A judge could decide whether a Common Core test is ultimately used next year," the Times-Picayune continued.

Given that Jindal was an early supporter of Common Core, the motives for his switch have been subject to speculation. Some see presidential primaries in the tea leaves, with a reading that the conservative base is shifting against the new standards.

"Jindal, a potential presidential candidate, was an early supporter of the standards. He lauded them as a way to 'raise expectations for every child' in a pro-Common Core ad made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation," The Washington Post noted.

Email: eschulzke@desnews.com

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