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October 2, 2014

Editorial: Jindal to the Core

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Posted: Friday, June 20, 2014 5:36 pm | Updated: 5:39 pm, Fri Jun 20, 2014.

In Louisiana, the state Legislature supports the Common Core academic standards. So, too, does the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

You’d think that would quality Louisiana as one of the rare Republican-heavy Southern states that wants no part of the tea party-fueled effort to, as Core opponents often say, fight off the federal takeover of public schools.

If so, you’d think wrong.

Enter Gov. Bobby Jindal, who this week announced plans to remove Common Core from Louisiana, as if it were a bothersome plague on state crops. Never mind that the Legislature and the education board, among many, believe the governor doesn’t have the authority to unilaterally make such a decision.

Jindal isn’t deterred, even if 41 other states and the District of Columbia still adhere to the standards. “The federal government would like to assert control of our educational system and rush implementation of a one-size-fits-all set of standards that raises a lot of serious concerns,” he said, according to the New York Times. “We’re very alarmed about choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from our parents and from our educators.”

That control over curriculum would remain a state-level decision under Common Core doesn’t matter to either Jindal or Common Core’s other critics. They want the bogeyman banished, for good, so they can crow about giving the boot to the all-intrusive federal government.

Remember that Jindal is a potential presidential candidate for 2016, so any move against Common Core today will increase his standing tomorrow with the far right. If anything, modern GOP politics is a scramble to see which candidates can get to the right of all others. Outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a former tea party darling, is proof.

In his quest to oust Common Core from Louisiana, Jindal has conjured up a dilemma. He says he has the power to do it. Lawmakers and education administrators say he doesn’t and that Common Core standards will be used this fall. (The president of the state’s education board, Chas Roemer, said Jindal’s announcement was “a political maneuver,” which sounds more right than wrong.)

In the meantime, a state’s educators sit in an odd limbo of a politician’s making. Education as a political prop. How unnecessary, and how degressing.

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