• Education Insiders: Louisiana Ground Zero In Common Core Fight

    Louisana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s efforts to forcibly yank his state off the Common Core education standards will have effects will outside that state, a poll of education insiders indicates.

    Whiteboard Advisors, an education consulting firm, has released an August poll of about 75 insiders on education policy, who include current and former Department of Education personnel, think tank leaders, congressional staffers, and state policy chiefs. The anonymous poll allows a variety of education experts to frankly express their thoughts on key issues.

    The battle over Common Core in Louisiana has become far more intense than in any other state. Jindal’s effort to withdraw the state from Common Core and its associated standardized tests through a series of executive orders has been fiercely opposed by the state’s Republican-led school board, which argues that Jindal’s orders are illegal. The disagreement is currently being hashed out in court through three separate lawsuits, two against the school board and one against Gov. Jindal.

    The battle is the product of a sudden turn on Jindal’s part. The governor played a key role in the adoption of Common Core in 2010, and as recently as last year he continued to support it. However, this past spring Jindal took a sharp turn against the standards, which he decried as a Soviet-style effort by the Obama administration to centralize education.

    The insiders were nearly unanimous in agreeing with Louisiana school board chairman Chas Roemer, who has repeatedly said that Jindal’s change in position is driven by 2016 presidential aspirations. 74 percent of the insiders said that Jindal’s shift was “pure politics,” while 26 percent thought it was mostly politics or a mix of both politics and principle. Not a single person believed Jindal was primarily motivated by principle.

    “The race among 2016 hopefuls not named Jeb Bush to put distance between themselves and Common Core is in high gear now,” said one insider. “[It’s] total politics but the political logic is clear.”

    Insiders also were in general agreement that the Louisiana fight mattered well beyond the Bayou State’s boundaries. Fifty-six percent said that if Jindal’s quest to dump Common Core is successful, it would be “very” or “somewhat” significant. Only 27 percent thought success would be insignificant. One insider said that if Jindal could unilaterally pull out his state, it would embolden other governors to do the same. Another said that a victory would “up the ante” for other Republican contenders who want to appeal to 2016 primary voters.

    The insiders were also asked their opinions on Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Duncan fared about as well as his boss President Obama has in recent months, with an approval rating of only 42 percent. On K-12 education, his approval was a lowly 36 percent. One expert quipped that Duncan now “equally irritates” both Republicans and Democrats, while others complained that federal policy is in “disarray.”

    “Other than taking out Corinthian Colleges, is there even a game plan?” complained one insider.

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