Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is planning to file suit against the Obama administration over Common Core. Why? Because the administration uses it as a club to beat school systems into submission using the grant money tied to it. That, my friends, is the classic definition of extortion, and while actual extortion is illegal, forcing states to use Common Core by manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards is also very illegal.
Jindal, rightly, points out that when the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) uses $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to “encourage” states to adopt Common Core it’s hardly “encouragement” – their policy is adopt it or you get no money. That, Jindal says, “effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum” in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.
Proponents of Common Core call it a system to ensure that all students are hitting the same benchmarks in their education at each grade level. It, supposedly, is in place to ensure consistency in education. However, what many have found since it was shoved down the throats of local school districts is that the “curriculum” is heavily political, very confusing and hardly educates at all. I like to call it the dumbing down of America on steroids. It’s also an illegal incursion of the federal government into state and locally controlled school systems.
Jindal put it best when he said “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything.”
Jindal is also in the middle of a lawsuit against Louisiana’s Board for elementary and Secondary Education (BESE). As part of that suit, a brief was submitted with the Federal law violation. Jindal’s attorneys claim that a consortium used to create multistate standardized tests, The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), was used as a huge club to beat states into submission to the edicts of the DOE. PARCC is a consortium of more than a dozen states who are working together to create common assessments built around Common Core.
The report alleges that PARCC is a scheme to control education in America. “Simply put, PARCC is the implementation platform for a carefully orchestrated federal scheme to supervise, direct and control educational curriculum, programs of instruction and instructional materials in direct violation of federal law,” the report argues.
PARCC and a second consortium with the same goals, Smarter Balance, were enabled through grants by the federal government through the Race to the Top (RTTT) program. RTTT is a Federal “contest” program costing the taxpayers $4.35 billion and created by the DOE ostensibly to spur innovation and reforms in state and local district K-12 education, but has been shown to have other goals, such as gathering data on students.
It was announced by Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on July 24, 2009. States were awarded points for satisfying certain educational policies, such as performance-based standards (teacher/principal professional performance reviews), complying with Common Core standards, lifting caps on charter schools, turning around the lowest-performing schools, and building data systems.
It’s that federal involvement that is the problem. Jindal’s team argues that although the DOE wasn’t directly involved in the standards creation in Common Core, it permanently stains the organization as well as Common Core more broadly. Not only that, but The Department of Education Organization Act (DOEA) and other federal laws explicitly bar the DOE from taking actions that increase federal control over education. Common Core specifically does just that, transfers the power of decision making over content from local to federal control.
From the Brief: “Race to [the] Top…effectively co-opted Common Core for the federal government, attempting to accomplish indirectly through economic coercion that which the federal government is prohibited from accomplishing directly.” The economic coercion comes in through RTTT. Since it ties federal money to adoption of Common Core, it coerces state and local boards into adopting it; simply put “adopt or no money for you!”
If his arguments hit home and get recognition and traction, it will inevitably lead to legal challenges from other states. PARCC is not happy. It disputes the claims and says that they are controlled at the state level. It doesn’t change the fact that they are instituting through RTTT, a federal program, national standards that are money tied to adoption by the states.
The Federal lawsuit will seek a declaration that the DOE’s actions are unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving RTTT funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of the testing consortia.
Next step, getting RID of COMMON CORE!