Earlier today, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced that he was unilaterally withdrawing his state from participation in Common Core. Jindal was once a proponent of the national education standards, but the federal government's heavy-handed way of promoting them has made him wary, he said.
"We're very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators," he said at a press conference. "If other states want to allow the federal government to dictate to them, they have every right to make that choice."
The standards were developed back in 2009 by the National Governors Association, and they initially drew support from many Republican governors, including Jindal, New Jersey's Chris Christie, Florida's Jeb Bush, and Wisconsin's Scott Walker. But the more people hear about the standards, the less they like them—unless you ask them in an outright misleading way, as the Cato Institute's Neal McCluskey notes in a hilarious post, "Common Core Survey: You'll Love the Pufferfish!."
Common Core is especially unpopular among the conservative grassroots, given that the federal government is vigorously pushing it and has incentivized states to adopt it in exchange for grant money. The controversy has made Common Core an important political issue heading into the 2014 and 2016 election cycles, and it's going to be very difficult for Core-supportive candidates to survive in the more competitive Republican primaries.
Given that, Jindal's shifting perspective on Common Core is probably an indicator that he is going to run. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a major Core backer, knocked Jindal's defection from the cause as a transparently political move:
"Gov. Jindal was a passionate supporter before he was against it," Duncan said. "In that situation it was about politics. It's not about education. That's part of the problem."
Was Jindal's move a sincere change of heart or cynical political calculation? Probably the latter, but who cares? It is preferable for politicians to be flip-floppers as long as they are flipping in the direction of greater local autonomy and personal liberty.
The Core standards may not be as evil as some opponents claim, but there is very little that supporters can offer as evidence that this reform was worth adopting. On the other hand, there are many good reasons to be fearful of Common Core: Its implementation will be obscenely expensive for taxpayers, it contributes to the creeping nationalization of local education decisions, and amounts to crony capitalism for some very largely coroporate education interests.
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