Louisiana Governor Orders End to Common Core, But Can He?

June 19, 2014

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued executive orders Wednesday to withdraw the state from the Common Core standards and federally subsidized standardized tests, defying his state legislature, his superintendent of education and the business community — but endearing himself to tea party activists across the country who could be influential in early primary states if he chooses to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

“We want out of Common Core,” Jindal said at a press conference. “We’re very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators. It is never too late to make the right decision.”

But Jindal’s move immediately got tangled up in state politics — and the nitty-gritty of state procurement law.

Within an hour of Jindal’s announcement, state Superintendent John White was telling reporters that the governor had no authority to back out of the Common Core or scrap the exam the state was planning to use, which was developed by a federally subsidized consortium known as PARCC.

“The state will continue to implement the Common Core and continue to implement the PARCC tests — the governor’s comments notwithstanding,” White said.

A few hours after that, the state commissioner of administration held her own news conference to say that White had exceeded his authority. Not only that: She was suspending the contract that the state education department had planned to use to purchase and administer PARCC test questions. The commissioner, Kristy Nichols — a former deputy chief of staff to Jindal — said the way White had structured the testing deal may have violated the state’s contracting laws.

The roller coaster left Common Core foes not sure whether to celebrate or start drawing up new battle plans to help the governor get his way.

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