Both sides take Louisiana’s Common Core political fight to court

BY Kyla Calvert  July 22, 2014 at 6:45 PM EDT
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Dueling lawsuits in Louisiana amplify the on-going debate over the Common Core.

Louisiana courts could decide whether the state’s schools use the Common Core standards to guide teaching in their classrooms.

Last month Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order withdrawing the state from an agreement to use standardized tests based on the Common Core, a set of guidelines for teaching math and English at each grade level.

Along with that order, Jindal said state legislators and education leaders should develop a unique set of standards for Louisiana’s schools.

Members of the state’s board of education and schools superintendent have pushed back, saying they plan to stick with the standards, which were developed in 2009 and adopted in Louisiana — along with 44 other states and Washington D.C. — the following year. The governor’s order can make the state find a new test provider, but Jindal cannot single-handedly end the use of the Common Core.

On Monday, 17 state legislators who oppose the standards filed a lawsuit in the Louisiana 19th Judicial District Court, saying that 2010 adoption was invalid, according to Education Week. Those filing the lawsuit led a failed legislative effort to repeal the standards this past spring. If they had succeeded, they would have joined the Oklahoma and South Carolina legislatures in dropping the standards. Missouri and North Carolina have passed laws that require a review and possible revision of the standards.

On Tuesday, supporters of the Common Core, including parents, teachers and a charter school group, filed their own lawsuit in the same court. They claimed Jindal has overstepped his constitutional powers and his actions “have sown chaos in the education system of this state,” according to NOLA.com. The suit’s aim is to reinstate Louisiana’s contract for Common Core-aligned tests.

Students go back to school on Aug. 11 across Louisiana. A spokesman for the state’s department of education told the NewsHour their teachers will follows the Common Core standards, but no one knows what year-end tests they’ll be preparing for.

The NewsHour went to Louisiana in June to cover the growing battle over the Common Core. We learned about parents who pulled their kids out of school in objection to the standards and others who believe that the standards are prepping their children for college.

PBS NewsHour education coverage is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.