Jindal says Common Core critics need legal protection _lowres

Gov. Bobby Jindal speaks at the 2014 Values Voter Summit in Washington, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Gov. Bobby Jindal took the unusual step of issuing an executive order Wednesday against what he called unfair efforts by school leaders to hush teachers who oppose Common Core.

Jindal, who opposes the academic standards, said he was prompted to act by an account in The Alexandria Town Talk newspaper.

The story quoted an unnamed teacher as saying she was cited by Rapides Parish school administrators to quiet her criticism of the standards and that she removed her comments from Facebook.

The governor’s order says that, during discussion on testing and curriculum, “legal guarantees afforded to all citizens shall be maintained and provided to teachers.”

It also says that local and state education administrators “are not authorized under the existing laws of this state to deny a teacher’s constitutional freedom of speech in order to stifle the discussion and debate surrounding curriculum and standardized assessments by teachers.”

Common Core represents new academic rules in reading, writing and math.

The governor’s office also issued a prepared statement that said state Superintendent of Education John White, who backs Common Core, unfairly tried to marginalize opposition to the standards in a visit to Lake Charles on Tuesday.

A judge in August issued an injunction to lift the Jindal administration’s suspension of two state test contracts that White and others planned to use for spring tests linked to Common Core.

The standards are being taught in classrooms statewide, and exams are scheduled for March.

Barry Landry, a spokesman for White, said in a prepared statement that the executive order is important and “affirms educators’ First Amendment rights.”

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter @WillSentell. For more coverage of Louisiana government and politics, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog/