Bobby Jindal was for Common Core before he was against it.
The Louisiana governor and 2016 GOP presidential hopeful announced on Wednesday that he would sue (PDF) the federal government over the now-controversial Common Core educational standards that he claims are in violation of both federal law and the Tenth Amendment. The suit comes after his attempt to overturn the standards via executive order was rejected by a judge in state court last week.
Common Core was first introduced in 2010 as part of an initiative by the bipartisan National Governors Association to allow states to adopt common education standards that would “ensure that all students graduate from high school with the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in college, career, and life.” It soon attracted some criticism on the left, particularly from teachers’ unions, for increasing the role of high-stakes testing in schools. Later, the curriculum attracted the ire of tea party conservatives, and quickly became a cause celébre for Republicans.
To some opponents of its opponents on the right, Common Core represents everything from an attempt by federal government to take control of public education to a plot to make American children gay. Jindal’s lawsuit, meanwhile, alleges that the federal government overstepped its constitutional authority by making it impossible for states to get Race To The Top grant money unless they adopt Common Core or similar standards.
Jindal’s flip-flop seems well timed, as the Louisiana governor is currently contemplating a presidential bid. After all, it’s only recently that he changed his mind and started comparing Common Core to “centralized planning in Russia.” In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that a pro-Common Core quote of Jindal’s was used in a U.S. Chamber of Commerce television ad promoting the standards. And in 2012, he heralded Louisiana’s adoption of the curriculum as an important step towards improving his state’s schools.
In a statement to The Daily Beast, Jindal defended his new stance. “The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative,” he said. “Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C. in control of everything. What started out as an innovative idea to create a set of base-line standards that could be ‘voluntarily’ used by the states has turned into a scheme by the federal government to nationalize curriculum.”
Jindal’s suit is not likely to succeed in court. In the meantime, it’s noteworthy that the man who once urged his fellow Republicans to stop being “the stupid party” is now joining up with the likes of Glenn Beck and Ted Cruz in opposing the standards. But just because something fails in a court of law doesn’t mean that it won’t succeed in the caucuses of Iowa, and when 2016 comes around, it’s unlikely he’ll regret this new pitch to the base.