What is Jindal up to?
If you think Gov. Bobby Jindal’s official change of heart regarding Common Core is a win for the state, think again. Really, it seems like an orchestrated move in Jindal’s not-so-subtle bid for the White House.
To summarize his actions, the governor issued an executive order requiring the state education department to conduct a competitive bid process to purchase new standardized tests for schools, which would legally keep Partnerships for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) from being used in public schools due to its costs; sent a letter to PARCC stating Louisiana is “no longer committed” to using its standardized tests; suspended rules adopted by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) in May involving implementation of PARCC testing; and notified the Council for Chief State School Officers and the National Governor’s Association that the state was ending its participation in Common Core State Standards.
The governor might seem determined to bring about what most residents want, which is for Common Core to be removed from schools. But Jindal knows the law, so he knows these things: the state Department of Education doesn’t need to seek new bids for standardized testing because it has an existing contract that will allow it to purchase PARCC tests; the governor cannot withdraw the state from the PARCC consortium without the support of education superintendent John White and the chairman of the state education board, who both support Common Core; Jindal’s suspension of the rules passed by BESE has no effect on whether the state can implement Common Core or PARCC; and state law gives the education department and BESE the authority to unilaterally end Louisiana’s participation in Common Core, not the governor.
Now, just Thursday there was a closed-door session in Chalmette regarding a south Louisiana flood control board’s lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies over coast wetlands damage. The governor opposes the suit, as do four appointees he recently placed on the nine-member Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.
Earlier this month, Jindal rejected the advice of his own attorney general and legal advisers and signed SB 469 into law, which essentially bars the levee board from moving forward with the lawsuit. The lawsuit blames 97 companies for some of the damage from hurricanes Rita and Katrina because companies cut thousands of miles of pipes and canals through sensitive barrier islands and wetlands that otherwise would have protected New Orleans. The levee board’s vice president said last year it does not want the oil and gas companies to fix everything, only the part of the problem they created.
SB 469 upends that effort by stipulating only certain limited groups may bring lawsuits against companies for their activities along the coast, such as oil exploration.
Jindal’s decision could also derail state and local claims against BP for damages and tax revenue lost following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Though we cannot say without a doubt, we do wonder if Jindal’s Common Core announcements are a way to keep the public from paying attention to the levee board lawsuit and SB 469. We also wonder if the governor, who has come under fire over the past two years for his support of unfair education overhauls and a growing relationship with oil and gas companies, is seeking to gain back some of the love he lost by turning on Common Core.
If any of those theories are true, Jindal will fit right in with the rest of Capitol Hill.
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