The fate of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 9-month-old lawsuit against the federal government over Common Core academic standards and accompanying tests now rests in the hands of a Baton Rouge federal judge.
Two days of testimony in the case wrapped up Friday, and U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick took the matter under advisement. She gave both sides three weeks to file post-trial arguments.
Jindal, who once backed Common Core but now opposes it, did not attend either day of the trial.
The governor and his lead attorney, Jimmy Faircloth, contend the U.S. Department of Education illegally manipulated federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt Common Core. They accuse the federal government of forcing states down a path toward national curriculum in violation of state and federal law.
But Linda Gojak, a curriculum expert and former longtime math teacher in Ohio, testified Friday she saw no federal involvement in the creation of Common Core state standards for math.
“The Common Core standards do not dictate curriculum,” she said while being questioned by Caroline Wolverton, an attorney for the Education Department and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Jindal wants Dick to declare the Education Department’s actions unconstitutional and to prevent the department from taking away or withholding federal Race to the Top funds from states that refuse to use Common Core or join one of the testing consortia.
Patrick Rooney, deputy director of the Education Department’s Office of State Support, testified Friday that Louisiana is no longer using one of the Common Core-aligned assessments for high schoolers and is instead using the ACT test for students in grades nine to 12.
“No, it has had no impact on (Louisiana’s) Race to the Top award,” he said of the state’s decision to use Common Core-aligned assessments only for students in grades three to eight.
Rooney acknowledged to Brook Villa, another Jindal attorney, that the Education Department does have the power to take a range of enforcement actions against states that do not comply with the requirement to test all students. Those actions include issuing cease-and-desist orders and withholding federal funds, he said.
The 2014-15 school year was the first year that Common Core-aligned assessments were given to students.
The new academic benchmarks in reading, writing and math are intended to help students better prepare for college and the workforce.
The Education Department has used the $4 billion-plus Race to the Top program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards and testing.
Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.