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Linda Qiu
By Linda Qiu June 8, 2015

Bobby Jindal's change of position on Common Core

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal isn’t expected to announce his candidacy for president until June 24, but he’s already firing shots at future competitors.

In response to Sen. Rand Paul’s comments in late May on the origins of ISIS, Jindal called him "outlandish," "illogical," and "unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief."

Paul advisor Doug Stafford shot back at Jindal, saying, "It’s ironic Gov. Jindal would level such a charge when he flip-flops on crucial issues like Common Core and national security, and he has cratered his own state’s economy and budget."

This is not the first time critics have accused of Jindal for doing a 180 on Common Core — the state-based educational standards aimed at improving student readiness for college and the workplace. (Read our past fact-checks of claims and flips relating to Common Core.)

In light of his upcoming candidacy, we wondered: How does Jindal’s position on Common Core register on our Flip-O-Meter? It’s important to note that we are not making a value judgment about flip-flopping; we're just noting whether a change of position has occurred.

Jindal support

Common Core was launched in June 2009 as a collaboration between 49 states and territories. Louisiana adopted the standards in 2010 with Jindal’s blessing.

In 2012, he handpicked John White, a strong supporter of Common Core, as state superintendent of education. At an event for business leaders in January of that year, Jindal lauded the Common Core standards as a step forward for education in his state that "will raise expectations for every child."

Jindal echoed the sentiment early into his second term. Jindal stood by Common Core at a groundbreaking ceremony in 2013, amid an ongoing fight over the standards in his state and even after the Republican National Committee renounced the program. Though he never mentioned the initiative by name, Jindal said that "too many" governors, teachers, students and parents "have fought too hard for too many years to put Louisiana on that map (toward more rigorous education standards). And we're not going backwards."

Then, he disowned the initiative.

Jindal opposition

Jindal himself acknowledges his change of heart, which he says is due to the federal government’s stepping in.

His spokesperson Mike Reed told us, "Gov. Jindal supported (Common Core) when he believed it to be a state-led effort. Later, when he discovered it was a centralized federal effort, he opposed it and began working to remove Common Core from Louisiana."

We’ve fact-checked several statements that suggest Common Core is a federal program or mandate. It’s not. States can improve their chances of winning federal money if they adopt educational standards; the Obama administration included that as criteria for its "Race to the Top" program. But Common Core itself remains a state-based, voluntary program.

Nevertheless, by April 2014, Jindal was clearly in the opposition camp.

"I'm from the school that believes education is a matter best left for local control," Jindal wrote in an op-ed for USA Today. "The notion of Washington determining curricula is something most states are simply not interested in. It's a non-starter."

A month later, Jindal grew more emphatic in his distaste for Common Core, comparing it to centralized planning in Russia. He also tweeted:

Beyond rhetoric, Jindal has actively tried to rock the schoolhouse standards.

He sued the Obama administration over the national implementation of Common Core in 2014 (and he’s been sued for his repudiation). He asked Common Core to withdraw from the state. He broke with his own education head, an "exceptional" and "unusual" move, according to Ashley Jochim, who studies Common Core at the Center for Reinventing Public Education. He proposed an opt-out option for students in early 2015. He issued an executive order to repeal Common Core in Louisiana in 2014 and came up with a legislative plan as well.

In late May, Jindal signed off on a compromise between Louisiana legislators that allows state review and revision of the federal standards with public oversight. But, according to his spokesperson, that doesn’t mean Jindal’s done with his efforts to permanently give Common Core the boot in the Bayou.

"We support the compromise because it ensures we have local control going forward. The next step will be to elect leaders who are committed to getting rid of Common Core," Reed told us, noting that Jindal’s lawsuit against the Obama administration is moving forward.

Experts say there’s no question Jindal reversed his position on Common Core.

"Gov. Jindal has clearly flip-flopped on the issue. He went from singing the praises of Common Core to leading the charge for removing the standards in Louisiana. Because of Jindal, the state has made almost a complete U-turn on the standards," said James Shuls, a professor of education and policy at the University of Missouri in St. Louis.

Jindal’s change of position has also been noted by CNN, the Huffington Post, the Washington Times, the Washington Post’s editorial board and the Times-Picayune.

Our rating

Jindal was once an ardent supporter of Common Core (and one of the first adopters of the initiative) but has since become one of its staunchest critics, mounting lawsuits and legislation against the initiative. Despite his endorsement of a compromise in his state, Jindal remains an opponent to the core.

We rate Jindal’s position on Common Core a Full Flop.

Our Sources

Email interview with Mike Reed, spokesperson for Bobby Jindal, June 5, 2015

Email interview with Rebecca Klein, education reporter at the Huffington Post, June 5, 2015

Email interview with James Shuls, professor of education leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, June 5, 2015

Interview with Ashley Jochim, researcher analyst at the Center for Reinventing Public Education, June 5, 2015

Bobby Jindal Website, Save the Date, June 4, 2015

Talking Points Memo, Paul Campaign Responds To Jindal On GOP Hawks: He 'Flip-Flops' All The Time, June 4, 2015

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, Gov. Jindal: Senator Paul Unsuited to Be Commander-in-Chief, May 27, 2015

PolitiFact Wisconsin, Scott Walker's shifting position on the Common Core education standards, Jan. 16, 2015

PolitiFact, Fact-checking attacks on Common Core school standards, Oct. 21, 2013

PolitiFact, About PolitiFact, 2015

National Governors Association, Forty-Nine States and Territories Join Common Core Standards Initiative, June 1, 2009

Education Week, John White Appointed Chief of Louisiana Schools, Jan. 11, 2012

Foundation for Excellence in Education, Response by Louisiana Superintendent John White regarding Common Core State Standards, May 22, 2012

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana,  Governor Jindal Unveils Education Reform Plan, Jan. 12, 2012


Times-Picayune, Bobby Jindal expands comments on Common Core, Sept. 26, 2013

PolitiFact Florida, Rick Santorum says Barack Obama wants to "nationalize curriculum", Aug. 30, 2012

PolitiFact Wisconsin, Federal government required states to adopt Common Core school standards, congressional hopeful says, July 25, 2014

PolitiFact Wisconsin, How much is the federal government involved in the Common Core school standards?, Oct. 24, 2013

USA Today, Gov. Jindal: Leave education to local control, April 23, 2014

The Advocate, Jindal blasts Common Core, May 22, 2014

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal versus United States Department of Education, Aug. 27, 2014

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, Navis Hill, et al versus Bobby Jindal, Aug. 19, 2014

The Advocate, Supt. of Education White tells BESE he is unfairly being targeted, July 27, 2014

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, Governor Jindal Asks PARCC to Withdraw from Louisiana, Jun 18, 2014

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, Gov. Jindal Issues Executive Order to Protect Parents and School Districts from Consequences of Opting out of PARCC Exam, Jan. 30, 2015

Office of the Governor, State of Louisiana, Governor Jindal Announces Plan to Get Common Core Out of Louisiana, Develop High Louisiana Standards, March 28, 2015

Times-Picayune, Bobby Jindal supports Common Core compromise -- after initially withholding his endorsement, May 27, 2015

CNN, Bobby Jindal: The right's unlikely Common Core hero, Feb. 11, 2015

Huffington Post, Bobby Jindal Flip-Flops On Major Education Issue, May 23, 2014

Washington Times, Summer of GOP flip-flops: Jindal, Paul, Rubio change course on key issues, Aug. 27, 2014

Washington Post, Bobby Jindal’s Common Core reversal, June 26, 2014

Times-Picayune, Gov. Bobby Jindal flip-flops on Common Core: James Varney, April 15, 2014

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

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Bobby Jindal's change of position on Common Core

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