Judge rules against Jindal in Common Core lawsuit
Gov. Bobby Jindal
BATON ROUGE (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal’s effort to derail Louisiana’s use of the Common Core education standards was halted Tuesday by a state judge who said the governor’s actions were harmful to parents, teachers and students.
Judge Todd Hernandez lifted Jindal’s suspension of contracts the education department planned to use to buy testing material aligned with the multistate standards.
The decision allows Education Superintendent John White to move ahead with Common Core-tied testing plans for public school students, until a full trial is held later over the legality of Jindal’s executive orders against the standards.
In his written ruling, Hernandez said the Jindal administration didn’t produce any evidence to support the governor’s claims that White and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, or BESE, violated state contracting law.
The contract suspension stalled standardized testing plans for students in third through eighth grade. Hernandez noted that fourth-grade students must pass a standardized test in order to be promoted to the next grade.
“The loss of time is irreparable. With each passing day teachers and parents lose time preparing students for high stake testing, and there is a lot riding on the student’s successful performance on these tests,” Hernandez wrote.
Jindal Chief of Staff Kyle Plotkin said the governor will appeal Hernandez’s ruling, calling it “wrong on the facts and the law.”
“The judge took the arguments from Common Core proponents hook, line and sinker,” Plotkin said in a statement. “The Superintendent and BESE President are creating hysteria about one test that is several months away.”
The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. More than 40 states have adopted them.
Parents, teachers and a charter school organization sued Jindal after he suspended the testing contracts, alleging he violated constitutional separations of authority over education policy. The state education board joined in the suit.
Hernandez wrote that they had shown they were likely to prevail in the trial.
White praised the judge’s decision.
“Today’s ruling allows teachers and students to continue raising expectations in Louisiana. It enables our state to set its aspirations high and to compete with states across the country,” he said in a statement.
The Jindal administration says the governor exercised his legal authority over state contracting and did nothing improper.
The governor said the education department and BESE didn’t properly follow Louisiana’s procurement law and needed to seek competitive bids for the contract.
Plotkin suggested the judge’s ruling could have sweeping implications.
“If this judge’s ruling stands, it would cause chaos in state government and bring us back to the old days in Louisiana when it was OK to give no-bid contracts to your friends,” he said.
But when he suspended the contracts in June, Jindal acknowledged he took the action to undermine Common Core and Louisiana’s use of testing material from a consortium called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC.
Jindal once supported Common Core as improving student preparation for college and careers. But the governor now opposes the standards as an effort by President Barack Obama’s administration to meddle in state education policy.
White and a majority of BESE members still support Common Core, and state lawmakers also have refused to stop use of the standards.