Lawmakers file lawsuit to end Common Core

By Marquel Sennet |

Published 07/22 2014 10:14PM

Updated 07/22 2014 10:27PM

BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — State education leaders are defending themselves against another attack on Common Core.
Monday, a group of Louisiana legislators filed a lawsuit to stop those standards from entering the classroom.

"There is no legal basis for their claim, whatsoever," argued State Superintendent John White during a conference call Monday afternoon.

The lawsuit, filed by 17 state legislators, argues that White, the Department of Education, and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, did not follow the Louisiana Administrative Procedures Act when the Common Core State Standards were adopted in 2010. Since the Act was not followed, the lawsuit contends, the public did not have a chance to share their comments or concerns.

"The law does say that BESE and the department must do a bunch of things," White stated, "and they did them."

White and BESE President Chas Roemer each dismissed the legal basis for the lawsuit. One point mentioned in the suit is that previous changes to educational standards were posted and subject to public comment. That was not necessary for Common Core, White explained, "because these standards are already written down. In other words, when you have state-specific standards, BESE had to write them out, because no one else had written them out. These standards were already written down by the Common Core State Standards Initiative."

The suit claims that Common Core, the set of standards designed to make sure students around the country learn the same things, would cause irreparable harm to students in Louisiana. White pointed out that the legislature was nearly unanimous when it voted for national education standards in 2012.

"Almost every single person filling this petition today voted for a law that requires nationally-recognized content standards in English and Math," he stated.  "If the legislature as a whole wants to make that change, they have that option," Roemer added. "They had that option this year, they debated it thoroughly, and it did not, they did not win."

White said on the conference call that he considers this lawsuit to be a minor issue. The much bigger problem is the decision made by the governor's office in June to cancel the contracts for the PARCC test, which students were supposed to take next spring.

"We're at an impasse here. And there seem to be some parties that are willing to sacrifice the school year during this process. We're not willing to do that."

White met with Gov. Bobby Jindal last week to talk about procurement procedures. Gov. Jindal said DOE did not follow the law when it selected the company that would administer the PARCC test. White said afterward that he was stuck in a battle over who would get to choose the questions that go on the test: BESE or the governor's office.

Roemer indicated that he would call a special meeting of BESE about Common Core and testing.

"And then you combine that with this lawsuit, and it seem pretty clear to me that we need to move forward relatively quickly," he stated.

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