does jindal have a case with common core as federal scheme

Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, wants to be president. This is not a secret.

On June 13, 2014, Jindal went to Iowa, which is known as the “testing ground for presidents.” Not many people in Iowa knew who he was.

As a Louisianan, it doesn’t surprise me at all that Jindal said he is “thinking about” running for president in 2016.

Jindal needs something shocking, unique, and timely to put him in the national spotlight…

Jindal’s public rejection of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a good example of this.

On June 13, 2014, while Jindal was in Iowa, he vetoed a bill that would have put a hold on CCSS in Louisiana.

U.S.U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan criticized Jindal on CBS News on June 17, 2014, because “the situation” was “all about politics.”

It’s funny to hear that from a former professional basketball player who never taught and was put in charge of education in the U.S.U.S. by a president who met him on a basketball court.

The next day, on June 18, 2014, Jindal said that he was canceling Louisiana’s CCSS MOU and that he wanted to “get PARCC out of Louisiana.”

He talked about the government going too far.

Both CCSS and PARCC are important to the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE).

As of August 7, 2014, BESE and Jindal were involved in three lawsuits about Louisiana’s participation in CCSS and PARCC.

The state is suing itself in two of the three cases.

BESE President Chas Roemer, whose father, Buddy Roemer, was a former governor of Louisiana and whose sister, Caroline Roemer Shirley, is the president of the Louisiana Charter School Association, said Jindal was acting out of “politics” to help his 2016 presidential campaign.

A politician was accused of acting like a politician by another politician.

But back to that “overreach” by the government.

On August 6, 2014, Politico published an article called “Jindal Lawyer: Common Core is a “Scheme” that Breaks Federal Law.” In the article, Jindal and his lawyer say things that they should have said at least five years ago when Jindal signed the CCSS MOU for the first time:

A lawyer for Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said Wednesday that the Obama administration’s involvement with the Common Core is part of a “carefully orchestrated scheme” to control what the states teach.

Attorney Jimmy Faircloth said that the Obama administration is “trying to do in a very roundabout way what Congress has told them they can’t do.” In a court filing on Wednesday, Jindal’s office says that a group funded by the federal government that makes Common Core tests break federal law because it controls what students learn in class. [Also in italics.]

The curriculum is set by tests with a lot at stake. And the federal government planned to pay for everything related to CCSS except for paying for the development of CCSS itself.

In the CCSS MOU that Jindal and 45 other state governors signed in the spring of 2009, the role of the federal government was made clear.

Under “federal role,” the CCSS MOU even mentioned Race to the Top (RTTT):

Federal Role. The parties want a state-led effort to develop a common core of state standards, not a federal effort. The federal government can, however, help this state-led effort. In particular, the federal government can help this effort by giving it important financial support, such as through the Race to the Top Fund, which was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009. Also, the federal government can help this effort by offering a variety of tiered incentives, such as giving states more freedom in how they use existing federal funds, supporting a new way for states to be held accountable, and giving states money to help them implement the standards well. Also, the federal government can help pay for the creation of common assessments, professional development for teachers and principals, and other supports for the common core standards, as well as a research agenda that can help the common core keep getting better over time. Lastly, the federal government can change and align the federal education laws that are already in place with what the states have learned from international benchmarking and what federal research has found. [Also in italics.]

So, the federal government was all over CCSS before CCSS was made and before RTTT was made official. No governor who agreed to the CCSS and TBA assessments in 2009 was surprised to hear this.

In the Politico article, this strong defense of the federal government is made:

The Education Department did not force states to use the Common Core or tests that were similar to it. As long as the states chose exams with higher standards and better quality, it didn’t matter which exams they chose, and many of them chose different exams. [Also in italics.]

The federal government now decides what “higher” state standards and “higher quality” state tests look like. But the USDOE goes even further: Not only did they pay for PARCC, but they also told the PARCC consortium that it had to follow this January 2011 cooperative agreement, which said that “substantial communication, coordination, and involvement between the U.S.U.S. Department of Education (Department or E.D.E.D.) and the recipient” was “necessary to carry out a successful project.”

Since the beginning, USDOE has been all over the development of PARCC. In a letter to PARCC on September 28, 2010, the USDOE said the following:

This grant award is subject to the grant conditions listed below. These conditions include how to manage the grant, keep track of sub-recipients, file reports, and make sure that adequate financial controls and procedures are in place for choosing, giving, and managing contracts or agreements. Also, according to 34 CFR 75.234(b), this award is a cooperative agreement, and the Department of Education (the Department) program contact will be involved in a big way. As stated in the grant award documents, we expect PARCC and the Department to successfully negotiate and complete a final cooperative agreement that the recipient signs and sends back no later than January 7, 2011. [Also in italics.]

So, any product of PARCC is a product that is paid for and supervised by the federal government. It doesn’t matter who did what in which PARCC state. Everything that has been done under the PARCC umbrella has been paid for and supervised by the federal government.

The federal government’s help with PARCC doesn’t end with giving $170 million for the development of PARCC tests. It also has an extra $16 million for the “transition” of CCSS and assessment, as stated in the USDOE’s letter of award to PARCC:

I am also sending you a second GAN for a $15,872,697 additional award. These funds are used to help the states that are taking part in the transition to common standards and tests. [Also in italics.]

The “I” above is Joseph Conaty, who is the Director of Academic Improvement and Teacher Quality Programs for the U.S.U.S. Department of Education.

So, does the USDOE control the curriculum through the PARCC tests?


People say that the PARCC tests have a lot at stake. If students, teachers, and schools do badly on PARCC tests, they have a lot to lose. Some of the things at stake are a student’s promotion, a teacher’s job, and the school itself. The potential loss can force stakeholders to get “helps” so that (at least in their minds) they have a better chance of avoiding bad outcomes. Getting an “aligned” curriculum is one of those “helps.”

Even the letter of award from the USDOE to PARCC shows that Duncan wants to change the curriculum through the CCSS tests that the USDOE pays for:

Congratulations on all the hard work and success you and the other people in PARCC have had. As the Secretary said when he announced the winners of the Race to the Top Assessment on September 2, if America wants to have the best public school system in the world, each state needs a top-notch assessment system to measure progress, guide instruction, and get students ready for college and careers. [Also in italics.]

So, now you know: Duncan wants to use the money from the USDOE to pay for PARCC to “guide instruction.” The curriculum is what makes this test-centered “instruction guiding” possible.

No matter why Jindal is talking about the issue, he is right to say that the federal government wants to control the curriculum through CCSS and PARCC.

The best part of the Politico article, though, is that it points out that Jindal’s position now makes him agree with education historian Diane Ravitch:

Jindal’s argument is not new, but it may be the first time it has been made in court. Diane Ravitch, an education historian, has asked if the Common Core is legal. She says that the Education Department used billions of dollars in federal grants from Race to the Top and waivers from No Child Left Behind to get states to adopt the standards.

“It’s possible that it was against the law for the federal government to give money to the states to get them to adopt the standards,” Ravitch wrote last November. “Secretary Arne Duncan’s passionate support for the standards at every turn may be against the law. Even though he says the federal government had nothing to do with the Common Core standards, he calls people who disagree with them “Tea Party extremists” and makes fun of them. Why is he their best salesman if he has nothing to do with them? Why does he try so hard to put down their critics and misrepresent their reasons?”

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