Gov. Bobby Jindal suffered a major blow in his fight against Common Core on Wednesday when a federal judge refused to block the U.S. Department of Education from withholding money if Louisiana were to dump the controversial teaching standards.
U.S. District Court Judge Shelly Dick denied Jindal’s request for a preliminary injunction, saying the governor failed to show the state would suffer irreparable injury. “In fact, the alleged injuries that Jindal anticipates, should (Louisiana) discontinue use of (Common Core), appear to be purely speculative considering similar actions taken by other states have not suffered the anticipated consequences,” Dick wrote.
Jindal’s attorney, Jimmy Faircloth, said the governor plans to appeal Dick’s ruling to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.
“Obviously, we disagree with the ruling,” Faircloth said. “We believe the federal statutes are much more restrictive than as interpreted by the court.”
The governor contends the Education Department illegally manipulated federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt Common Core. He accuses the federal government of forcing states down a path toward a national curriculum in violation of state and federal law.
In her 33-page ruling, Dick rejected those claims, saying Jindal provided “no evidence” Louisiana was made to adopt a particular set of education standards, curriculum, instructional programs or standardized testing.
“The evidence supports the finding that participation in both (the grant and waiver) programs is completely voluntary and not unconstitutionally coercive,” the judge wrote.
A one-time supporter, Jindal has become a vocal opponent of the standards and has made his opposition a centerpiece of his campaign for president.
The Common Core standards lay out in broad terms what students should know in math and English for every grade from kindergarten to 12. They were developed by a multistate consortium but later championed by the Obama administration. They have been adopted by more than 40 states and aim to better prepare students for college and careers.
Jindal filed suit against the U.S. Department of Education in September and Dick presided over a two-day trial in May.
Jindal has the option of asking Dick to issue a permanent injunction rather than appealing Dick’s Wednesday ruling. That, however, might put off a resolution for months and might lead to full trial.
Faircloth said an immediate appeal would allow a higher court to conduct a faster review of Dick’s legal interpretation.
“There’s really no other evidence to develop at a full trial,” Faircloth said.
In a statement issued after the ruling, state Superintendent of Education John White sidestepped the controversy and focused on his office’s efforts to implement a compromise reached between Common Core supporters and opponents earlier this year. Among other things, it calls for a fresh look at Common Core that could lead to possible changes.
“This is why more than 100 educators are reviewing and developing English language arts and math standards to ensure that the expectations are as high as possible in Louisiana classrooms,” White said. “As we trust these educators to perform the task at hand, the Louisiana student standards will be academic goals of which all Louisianans will be proud.”