Federal law states clearly that no agent of the federal government may seek to influence, direct, or control curriculum or instruction. For many decades, both parties agreed that they did not want the party in power to use federal power to control the schools of the nation. Thus, while it was appropriate for the U.S. Department of Education to use its funding to enforce Supreme Court decisions to desegregate the schools, it was prohibited from seeking to control curriculum and instruction. Both parties recognized that education is a state and local function, and neither trusted the other to impose its ideas on the schools.


That explains why Arne Duncan did not use federal funding to pay for the Common Core, but it does not explain why he used the power of his office to promote the CCSS or why he paid out some $350 million for tests specifically designed to test the Common Core standards. As every teacher knows, tests drive curriculum and instruction, especially when the tests are connected to high stakes.


In this post, Mercedes Schneider explains the battle royal in Louisiana, where Governor Jindal is fighting the State Commissioner of Education John White and the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education over the CCSS and the aligned PARCC tests. Now Jindal has decided to sue on grounds that the U.S. Department of Education acted illegally by aiding the creation of CCSS and the tests. The funniest part of the post , as Schneider writesis to see politicians accusing other politicians of acting like politicians.


I hope the underlying issues get a full airing. When I worked at the U.S. Department of Education in the early 1990s in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, we were much aware of the ban on federal involvement in curriculum and instruction. We funded voluntary national standards, but we kept our distance from the professional associations working to write them, and they were always described as voluntary national standards.