Common Core in Louisiana: Two Days, Two Lawsuits
In May 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and then-State Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to commit Louisiana to be “state led” and participate in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) Initiative, a show that the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) had actually “initiated.”
On June 2, 2010, CCSS was officially completed and released to the public.
One month later, on July 01, 2010, the Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) recorded in its minutes that BESE adopted CCSS.
The Louisiana Register is a monthly publication which provides an access to the certified regulations and legal notices issued by the executive branch of the state government. All of these go through the formal rulemaking process.
For four years, this sketchy means of CCSS (and by extension, PARCC) “adoption” remained unquestioned, for the honeymoon was still on, with the governor, BESE, and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) all holding hands as they sat on the same side of the pro-CCSS/PARCC table.
I guess that BESE and LDOE never thought they’d see the day that the governor would set himself at odds with the CCSS/PARCC plan for Louisiana. Otherwise, BESE and LDOE might have taken just a smidge more care in making sure that CCSS was adopted and PARCC tests procured according to proper administrative procedure.
However, that day did come, and the honeymoon did end on June 18, 2014, the day that Jindal announced his plan to drop PARCC and to cancel Louisiana’s CCSS MOU. The real sting came on that same day with the Division of Administration’s (DOA) Office of Contractual Renewal (OCR) beginning its investigation into BESE’s/LDOE’s procurement of Louisiana assessments– and freezing funding for 2014-15 tests.
It’s one thing to know the marriage is over. It’s quite another to have the bank account frozen on the same day.
Now, it came as no surprise that both the BESE majority and State Superintendent John White turned their attention to possible legal action against Jindal. However, as of July 22, 2014, BESE and LDOE have not sued, though they have been given the okay to do so by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell. Still, they might have to ask Jindal’s DOA for permission to sue the governor, and that’s just awkward.
Frankly, at this point, I think Jindal would give the go-ahead if for no other reason than to be able to have his lawyers subpoena documents from John White’s dysfunctional lair of an LDOE.
I want to see White served some subpoenas. I have a birthday coming in a couple of weeks. I would consider such news a real present.
Still, no lawsuit from BESE and LDOE yet. But don’t you know, in the past two days, we’ve had two lawsuits on the CCSS/PARCC issue.
This is what happens when externally-prompted “state led” goes sour.
On July 21, 2014, 17 legislators filed a suit in Louisiana’s 19th Judicial District Court against BESE and LDOE for neglecting to follow proper procedure in adopting CCSS. White and the BESE majority responded with this memo stating that BESE and LDOE do not have to adhere to administrative procedures for CCSS adoption.
Case settled, right?
It seems that Representative Brett Geymann has responded to White’s claims of being “above” administrative procedures. Geymann maintains that BESE/LDOE are not excused from administrative procedure in adopting standards and that previously standards adoption adhered to administrative procedure. (Read Geymann’s point-by-point “facts and clarity” to White here: Geymann to White Facts and Clarity).
It seems that District Judge Tim Kelley is assigned to hear the Geymann et al. suit. In December 2012, it was Kelley who ruled Louisiana vouchers unconstitutional.
So, that’s one lawsuit.
The second lawsuit, filed on July 22, 2014, also in the 19th Judicial District Court, is by a pro-CCSS coalition that includes the charter management group, Choice Foundation.
The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is paying for this lawsuit. BAEO shares a chapter with Parent Revolution in my book, A Chronicle of Echoes (see pages 321-327). BAEO is well supported by so-called “reformer” cash, including money from Broad, Gates, and Walton, and it promotes the privatization of public education (the “educational options” are vouchers and charters)– and BAEO loves CCSS.
The BAEO-funded lawsuit alleges that Jindal’s “accusations” regarding “BESE and its agents’ … procurement of contracts… are unfounded and incorrect” and that the “allegations” are “false.”
Read here for DOA’s Preliminary Review findings on the makeshift job that White offered as his effort to “arrange” Louisiana assessment contracts.
So, there we have it: Two lawsuits in two days.
School starts in two weeks. Surely that is time for at least another couple of lawsuits to add to the list. And surely we are overdue for at least one counter-suit.
No problem. No matter how many CCSS-related lawsuits are filed by August 4th, I will return to school, and I will teach.
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