BATON ROUGE – The rest of the country could learn a lesson from Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' decision to end a lawsuit filed by his Republican predecessor against Common Core, a spokeswoman for the governor said.
Much of the Louisiana governor's intent was summed up in a statement released at the same time he announced the lawsuit would be scrapped, Shauna Sanford, his press secretary, said in an email to the Louisiana Record.
"The main lesson for Louisiana and other states to learn from this case is just as Gov. John Bel Edwards has stated," Sanford said, before quoting from the governor's statement. "'It does not benefit students to continue to use time and resources to pursue litigation that no longer has any bearing on classrooms in Louisiana. Instead, we need to focus on doing everything possible to provide students and teachers with the support they need to ensure a quality educational system.'”
The lawsuit's dismissal also led to the termination of a $475,000 state contract with the law firm hired by the previous administration to represent the state in the suit, Sanford said.
"This is in keeping with Gov. Edwards' promise to the people of Louisiana to implement sensible and responsible budgeting, and his decision to terminate an unnecessary lawsuit in order to provide cost-saving efficiencies that hardworking Louisianans deserve," she said. "The Edwards administration will not continue the practice of wasting taxpayer money on lawyers and lawsuits that instead could be much better used in the classroom."
Edward's decision marked the end of the lawsuit filed by his predecessor, the now failed Republican presidential hopeful Bobby Jindal. The lawsuit itself marked an about-face in Jindal's support, and then opposition to, Common Core. Jindal supported Louisiana's adoption of Common Core Standards in 2010 and continued to do so even into his second term as Louisiana governor, into 2013, after the Republican National Committee renounced Common Core.
By the following spring, Jindal had reversed his opinion of Common Core, stating in a USA Today op-ed piece that "the federal government became increasingly involved. Unless you are fighting a war, the kind that requires tanks, submarines and jets, you really don't want the federal government involved."
The following August, he filed his lawsuit, Jindal v. United States Department of Education et al, in U.S. District Court for Louisiana's Middle District. The lawsuit claimed states were being forced to gradually adopt a national education curriculum, a violation of federal law and the state sovereignty clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Jindal's case made little headway before the court. Last September, U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick rejected allegations in the lawsuit, saying Jindal failed to prove Louisiana was coerced. The case was pending before U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals when Edwards announced earlier this month his decision to scrap the lawsuit.
Some news outlets reported that Attorney General Jeff Landry might move to keep the appeal alive but Sanford told the Louisiana Record that this is not the case. She also provided some detail of how the decision was carried out. First, she said, Edwards reached his decision to dismiss the appeal and Executive Counsel Matthew Block filed the motion. Shortly after, Landry agreed with the administration's decision and the two offices filed a joint motion for dismissal.
"That motion was granted and the appeal has been dismissed," Sanford said.