Thursday, 19 June 2014

Louisiana Governor Dumps Common Core; Bureaucrats Fight Back

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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (shown) issued executive orders aiming to remove the Obama administration-pushed Common Core education standards in the state’s government schools, drawing widespread applause from teachers, parents, taxpayers, and activists across the political spectrum. The orders seek to quash the school nationalization scheme in Louisiana by withdrawing from the federally funded national testing regime aligned with Common Core, a deeply controversial and expensive assessment that the Republican governor said was adopted in violation of state law. Education bureaucrats, though, are fighting back.

If successful, the governor’s orders and announcement would make Louisiana the fourth state this year to formally withdraw from what critics now deride as “ObamaCore” and even “CommieCore.” In March, Indiana became the first state to officially dump the controversial scheme after first adopting it, but education experts noted that the supposedly “new” standards were largely copied and pasted from Common Core. In recent weeks, South Carolina and Oklahoma both adopted laws withdrawing from the Obama-backed nationalization of education as well. Several other states never joined.

In Louisiana, as across America, the pressure on state officials to dump Common Core has been growing quickly as awareness spreads. Responding to a wide range of concerns about the standards — federal involvement, dubious quality, lack of public input, and more — Gov. Jindal announced his plan to withdraw on June 18. “This gets us out of the Common Core,” he said. He wants lawmakers and state officials to develop new, superior standards and assessments for Louisiana rather than using the deeply controversial Common Core pushed by Obama and financed by population-control zealot Bill Gates.

“We’re very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators,” Gov. Jindal said at a press conference announcing the decision. “If other states want to allow the federal government to dictate to them, they have every right to make that choice.” Proponents of Common Core, he added, were not up front about federal involvement in the standards and the accompanying federally funded national testing regime known as “Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers,” or PARCC. Louisiana has now withdrawn from the tests, which analysts say are crucial to the whole plot.

It is time to ditch the Common Core standards as well, Jindal continued, saying “we want them out of our state.” While he previously supported the scheme, Jindal suggested that understanding the facts made him reconsider. “Now that we understand the federal overreach involved, we need to slow down and make the right decision,” he said. “The federal government would like to assert control over our education system and rush implementation of a one-size-fits-all set of standards that raises a lot of serious concerns.”

Advocates of locally controlled public education have long opposed even state-mandated standards as an intrusion on communities’ ability to govern themselves and control local schools. Jindal, though, suggested that new state standards would be rigorous and set the bar high — better than Common Core, which countless education experts have lambasted as an attack on critical thinking, proper schooling, and real education.

“Some Common Core proponents suggest that we cannot have high standards without Common Core. That is a false statement,” Jindal said after weeks of lobbying the legislature to listen to Louisiana constituents and kill Common Core. “We can do it without the federal overreach.” He said that process for standards needed to “start over” and that parents, teachers, and taxpayers must be respected. Officials were ordered to start developing new standards.

State education bureaucrats, though, were outraged at Jindal’s decisions. Senior government-school bosses even vowed to continue implementing Common Core in defiance of the governor and the growing grassroots army of parents and teachers determined to stop it. The battle may end up in court, with State Superintendent of Schools John White and his bureaucratic allies claiming that Jindal does not have the authority to unilaterally withdraw from the scheme adopted by bureaucrats in 2010.

“The state will continue to implement the Common Core standards and continue to implement the PARCC tests — the governor’s comments notwithstanding,” White said defiantly, adding that it was a “long term plan we have been working on for four years and committed to another 10 years of implementation.” Of course, critics have argued that the quiet 2010 decision by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to adopt the radical standards in exchange for unconstitutional bribes from the Obama administration was itself illegitimate.

Gov. Jindal countered the claims made by White, whom the governor supported for the position. It is true that the state education board was created under the Louisiana Constitution. However, “they are still subject to Louisiana laws,” the governor said. “They have not followed the state bid laws in the process. They are going to have to start over and actually follow the law.”

For White and the federally funded state education bureaucracy, though, the fight is far from over. “We are not willing to subject our children to last minute changes to throw our system into educational chaos,” the state superintendent claimed. “Our interpretation happens to be the right one.” On the other hand, one of the many complaints against Common Core is that it was adopted under the radar in most states in exchange for massive, unconstitutional federal bribes. Other senior state officials promptly distanced themselves from White’s defiance.

The Louisiana education bureaucracy is in for a tough fight, with critics of Common Core from all across the political spectrum praising Jindal’s efforts to kill the scheme. Some cynics suggested the governor was merely trying to boost his chances in the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, where the standards have become politically toxic among the conservative base. Still, numerous lawmakers, parents, and activist groups quoted in news reports applauded the governor’s actions.

Education Director Emmett McGroarty at the non-partisan American Principles Project said the governor was right to stand with parents, educators, and other Louisiana citizens in pushing back against federal overreach. With his actions, Gov. Jindal “has reaffirmed the Framers’ intent that state government will guard the rightful interests of the state’s citizens,” McGroarty said in a statement, blasting the “defective and inferior standards” foisted on Louisiana by the federal government.

“He has given more hope to the moms, dads and other citizens across America who are pushing back against a $600 billion education industrial complex and the elites in both parties who have been advocating for the national Common Core Standards,” McGroarty continued. “Certainly, as the governor’s statement today recognizes, much still needs to be done to make things right. But the governor's actions and words mark this as a historic day.”

Even the state’s teacher union, which has long been at odds with the GOP governor on other education issues, celebrated the move to quash the Obama-backed national standards. “It obvious to anyone paying attention that PARCC and Common Core have become toxic,” Louisiana Federation of Teachers chief Les Landon was quoted as saying in news reports. “Frankly, I think the governor did the right thing.” Indeed, all across America, educators have become some of the fiercest critics of Common Core.

Of course, the establishment is now up in arms, with Obama’s radical education secretary lashing out at Jindal and suggesting he had merely changed his position on Common Core due to political concerns — in other words, responding to demands of constituents, taxpayers, and voters. “We will not be bullied by the federal government,” Jindal responded. Big Business, which has been waging an expensive and deceptive but failing propaganda campaign to create a semblance of support for Common Core, also expressed concerns over the move.

All across America, however, the Common Core dominoes are beginning to fall. Parents, teachers, and lawmakers are beginning to understand the vast implications of surrendering control over education to the out-of-control education establishment in Washington and billionaire Common Core financier Bill Gates. The standards themselves are being attacked by experts from all angles, too. Many frustrated parents in Louisiana and around the nation are turning to homeschooling to escape failing government schools and Common Core.

Even popular TV comedians are ridiculing the scheme, making Common Core into a punchline in the popular culture. Lawmakers and unions are slamming the standards, too. Aside from out-of-touch establishment bigwigs in both parties, Republicans and Democrats all over the country are also scrambling to distance themselves from the scandalous standards before facing the wrath of voters. Politicians such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who was recently greeted by anti-Common Core protests at a fundraiser in Ohio, are increasingly finding themselves on the fringe for supporting Common Core.

Of course, even while acknowledging that much work remains, advocates of locally controlled, quality education celebrated the latest victory in Louisiana as another encouraging move in the right direction. However, activists from South Carolina and Oklahoma to Louisiana said they will remain on guard to ensure that their state officials do not attempt to replace Common Core with Common Core, as happened in Indiana. The battle is still far from over, though. Even states such as Texas that outlawed the national standards and accompanying Obama bribes are seeing elements of the scheme seep into the classroom.

At the same time, supporters of proper education free from Washington, D.C., meddling and Big Government bias are expressing growing hope that, with the nationwide attention currently focused on government education, real reforms may eventually be forthcoming. For that to happen, though, parents will have to remain active, and state governments must take a strong stand against federal intrusion. Rejecting taxpayer-funded bribes from the Obama administration will also be required. For the sake of America’s children and the nation's future, though, it must be done.

 Photo of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, education, politics, and more. He can be reached at

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. Follow him on Twitter @ALEXNEWMAN_JOU.

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