The State of Louisiana is in the news once again, and it’s certainly not a glowing endorsement of the current status of the state’s public education system. Not one, but two lawsuits have been filed this week alone regarding the State’s implementation of the common core state standards. Initially, forty-five states plus the District of Columbia voluntarily adopted the common core state standards, with Louisiana being one of them. Most states began implementation of the standards several years ago, with the plan to have the standards fully implemented by the 2013-2014 school year and to implement new common assessments in the 2014-2015 school year. Louisiana state education officials have been working diligently over the past few years to fully implement these standards and prepare schools, teachers, and students for the implementation of the common assessments scheduled to begin this upcoming school year. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R), a presidential hopeful in 2016, supported the common core initially, but recently, changed his position amid new found opposition from many extreme conservatives.
Last spring, several conservative members of the Louisiana Legislature introduced measures to weaken or repeal Louisiana’s adoption of the common core state standards and assessments. These measures fell short, and on June 18 of this year, Governor Jindal took matters into his own hands by issuing two executive orders in an attempt to prohibit the use of the common assessments for the 2014-2015 school year and directing the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to authorize other assessments, less than two months before the beginning of the school year. Louisiana Education Superintendent, John White, and the BESE are at odds with Jindal over the issue, and White has stated that Louisiana will move forward with the common core and assessments regardless of Jindal’s opposition.
On Monday, July 21, seventeen state legislators, those behind the effort to repeal the adoption of the standards this past spring, filed a lawsuit arguing that the adoption and implementation of the common core violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act, which requires public comment on state policy and rule changes. The very next day, common core supporters, including teachers, parents, and the charter school organization, Choice Foundation, filed a lawsuit against Governor Jindal and members of his administration, alleging that Jindal’s executive orders violate the Louisiana Constitution, which grants exclusive authority to the Legislature and BESE to set and implement education policy. The Plaintiffs argue that Jindal’s actions have usurped the constitutional and legislative authority of the legislature and BESE and have caused confusion and anxiety among school administrators, teachers, parents, and students. The Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent Jindal’s executive orders from taking effect. A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for August 4.
Note: For a timeline of Arkansas’s implementation of the common core state standards and common assessments, please seek this link.