Lawsuit Filed Over Common Core

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7

    A lawsuit was filed Wednesday against the Obama administration, accusing it of illegally manipulating federal grant money and regulations to force states to adopt the Common Core education standards.

    The Common Core standards are math and English benchmarks describing what students should know after completing each grade. They were developed by states to allow comparison of students' performance. More than 40 states, including California, have adopted them.

    The U.S. Department of Education has used a $4.3 billion grant program and federal policy waivers to encourage states to adopt uniform education standards and testing. Gv. Bobby Jindal says that "effectively forces states down a path toward a national curriculum" in violation of the state sovereignty clause in the Constitution and federal laws that prohibit national control of education content.

    The lawsuit, obtained first by The Associated Press, was filed in the federal court based in Baton Rouge.

    The legal challenge puts Jindal, a Republican who is considering a 2016 presidential bid, at the forefront of a dispute between conservatives and President Barack Obama, bolstering the governor's profile on the issue as he's trying to court conservative voters nationwide.

    "The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative," Jindal said in a statement. "Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything."

    U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has criticized the governor's opposition to Common Core as politically driven.

    Duncan's office didn't immediately respond Wednesday to a request for comment on Jindal's lawsuit.

    The Public Policy Institute of California found that when people were read a short description of the initiative, seven in 10 said they favored it. 

    The Obama administration embraced the standards and encouraged states to adopt them as part of the application process for the Race to the Top grant program. Two state testing consortia -- the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium -- received $330 million from the grant program to develop standardized testing material tied to Common Core.

    The lawsuit seeks a judge to declare the Department of Education's actions unconstitutional and to keep it from disqualifying states from receiving Race to the Top funds based on a refusal to use Common Core or to participate in one of the testing consortia.