Jindal Already Fell Off the Common Core Tightrope

Bobby-Jindal.jpgJeff Sadow has a piece up at The Hayride that discusses the tightrope that Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has taken on the Common Core State Standards.  At first he gave tacit support, and now he is an outspoken critic.  This morning he said that he wants the state out of the Common Core and the tests that go with it saying, “It is time for the Department of Education to come up with a Plan B… I am committed to getting us out of PARCC, out of Common Core.”

But other than talk what has he done?

Sadow points out that he missed his opportunity to use the Administrative Procedures act which gave Jindal the ability to veto the regulations developed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education early in May.  He had until the end of the month and he failed to do so.

But the Administrative Procedures Act clearly gave Jindal the ability to veto the regulations which, for whatever reason, were issued only in early May. This meant that Jindal had until the end of that month essentially to reject them, which would restart the process. Theoretically, this loop could continue indefinitely and presumably CCSS/PARCC opponents could use the time to induce the state’s withdrawal from them.

However, it also would throw the state’s educational delivery into chaos, not knowing what would be assessed and therefore not knowing what to teach, and could lead to a legal violation that requires the state to use nationally-standardized exams in its assessment by a certain date. As such, practically deferment by Jindal would prevent a train wreck of this nature.

And, for whatever reason, the deadline came and went without any action on Jindal’s part, although he never acknowledged that he had considered this and only said that he would review possible administrative actions if the Legislature failed to act to remove the state from participation. It now has, with that same clock ticking to expiration also eliminating this opportunity to accomplish rejection through his inaction, which brought him criticism from PARCC opponents.

He points out that the contract withdrawal option from PARCC is unlikely since he will get a fight from BESE board president Chas Roemer and Superintendent of Education John White.  Any attempt to pull Louisiana out, Sadow predicts, would wind up in court.

Then Sadow states he has an escape valve, but it would only be symbolic in nature:

So it seems fortunate for him that an escape valve of a kind appeared from the Legislature at its end. HB 953 by state Rep. Walt Leger would codify into law and extend an exemption from two to three years for schools to use data from a national standardized exam (planned to be PARCC) in computing accountability measures if that use lowers their scores and in computing teacher evaluations. These measures already were promulgated by BESE for the shorter period.

Obviously, the bill must go to the governor for his disposition, and CCSS opponents now clamor for Jindal to veto it, because it reaffirms that the state will use PARCC. This provides the perfect pitch out over the middle of the plate for Jindal to blast out of the park: he reaps all the benefits of credibly asserting he took action to reduce the impact of CCSS, yet it does nothing to stop adoption of PARCC and actually speeds up its full evaluative use by a year – meaning because of the extant rules it still won’t go that far until he has left office. And, BESE could accomplish everything in the bill through rulemaking simply by extending its current manifestation by a year. There’s no cost to anyone with a veto.

Sadow also notes that he didn’t try to utilize any political capital and apply pressure on the Legislature and BESE members he helped to get elected.  Basically he’s in danger of falling off the Common Core tightrope pleasing none.

I disagree with Sadow on how much benefit he will get from a veto that would largely be symbolic.  It seems to me that Governor Jindal has finessed this issue to the point of inaction which surely isn’t pleasing to Louisiana parents who want to see these standards gone.  He’s not entirely to blame, he had a (largely, opponents of the Common Core excluded) do-nothing Legislature to deal with.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore