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NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal outlined plans on Wednesday to remove Louisiana schools from the Common Core English and math education standards that he helped usher in four years ago.
The move comes as a backlash grows against the multi-state standards that aim to boost critical-thinking skills and apply consistency to a patchwork of state guidelines, as schools have adjusted their course work to meet them.
"We won’t let the federal government take over Louisiana’s education standards," Jindal, a Republican, said in a statement. "We’re very alarmed about choice and local control over curriculum being taken away from parents and educators."
Jindal's move, which included issuing an executive order scrapping a key standardized test, fell short of unilaterally divorcing the state from the standards.
It is not clear how far Jindal can go in withdrawing Louisiana from the standards without the backing of state education officials and state lawmakers, a majority of whom have come out in the past in support of Common Core.
Louisiana Education Superintendent John White said the state would continue implementing Common Core standards despite the governor's plan.
"By using test forms and questions that make results comparable among states, we are following the Legislature's mandate that we not only measure but also compete," White said in a statement.
Jindal, who is widely viewed as holding presidential ambitions, last week vetoed a bill championed by supporters of Common Core that addressed the timing of its implementation.
With Jindal's support, Louisiana was among 45 states and the District of Columbia that adopted the standards in 2010 amid concerns that U.S. students were falling behind those in other industrialized countries.
The standards have come under fire across the political spectrum. Left-leaning groups argue they increase reliance on standardized testing and discourage creativity and flexibility in the classroom. Some conservative groups say they amount to a federal takeover of education.
Although the standards were developed and implemented at the state level, the Obama administration encouraged their adoption through a competitive-grant program called Race to the Top, which gave money to cash-strapped states during the recent economic downturn.
In Louisiana, business and civic groups have urged Jindal to keep the standards in place. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan accused Jindal of flip-flopping on the issue, noting his previous support.
Several Republican-led states have dropped Common Core this year. Indiana became the first state to drop the standards in March, followed by South Carolina in May and Oklahoma in June.
State legislatures in Missouri and North Carolina also have passed legislation to rewrite the standards, although they have not been signed into law.
The changes in some cases have been minimal. Indiana's new standards are similar enough that the state could use a Common Core-approved test to asses students' progress at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, according to Derek Redelman, an education expert at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.
Additional reporting by Andy Sullivan in Washington; Editing by Peter Cooney