Last Wednesday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal sued the Obama administration for violating the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by coercing states to adopt the Common Core standards. Louisiana is the first state to sue the federal government over Common Core, making Jindal the leader of the movement.
Even conservative education reformers have written off the lawsuit. They argue that the lawsuit is not about winning in the courts, it is about politics. Jindal clearly wants to run in 2016. Lately, he has been visiting Iowa and New Hampshire.
“Jindal, as I’m sure you know, is suing the federal government over Common Core. And for this, he deserves enthusiastic cheers and undying gratitude from supporters of the Common Core State Standards. He has thrown into profound jeopardy the most effective talking point that their opponents have: that the feds forced national standards down the states’ throats and that Uncle Sam is illegally dictating what schools will teach. If this were true, any number of states, districts, or other stakeholders would have been in court ages ago. But they haven’t. The blunt fact of the matter is that this is powerful rhetoric atop an extremely weak legal case—like posting a “beware of dog” sign on your home when you own a beagle puppy.”
There are legitimate arguments to make. After all, the federal government exclusively funds these tests and a panel created by President Obama reviews every single aspect of Common Core. In order to waive the No Child Left Behind Act, states must adopt the standards.
Jindal was originally a supporter of Common Core, but has changed after he saw the disastrous roll out. Louisiana is currently in the process of phasing it out. Only three states have officially repealed the Common Core and all of their governors are potential 2016 candidates: Indiana (Mike Pence), South Carolina (Nikki Haley), and Oklahoma (Mary Fallin).
Aside from Common Core, Jindal was already the nation’s leader for education reform. After he won re-election by a landslide, he used his mandate to push extremely aggressive reforms. Louisiana significantly enhanced school choice through vouchers and established one of the nation’s strictest teacher tenure laws. In order to attain tenure now, teachers in Louisiana must receive five “highly effective” ratings within six years. This year, New Orleans Recovery School District became the nation’s first all-charter school system.
Putting politics aside, these new laws will have a tremendously positive impact on children’s lives. The biggest winners are the children of New Orleans, who will now have opportunities that no other city in the world can offer them. Regardless of the mistakes their parents made or which neighborhood they grew up in, they now have an excellent shot at breaking the cycle of poverty.
Now, Governor Jindal needs to capitalize on this opportunity.