Court Tosses Massachusetts Common Core Ballot Question

By Daarel Burnette II — July 01, 2016 1 min read
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A Massachusetts court served a major blow to Massachusetts’ anti-Common Core movement Friday when it ruled that the state’s attorney general improperly certified a petition to ask voters whether to repeal the standards this November.

The ruling essentially kills the ballot initiative effort.

Late last year, End Common Core, an activist group based in Worcester, got more than enough signatures to get a question on the ballot this November that asks whether voters want to keep the state’s common-core standards. The group argues that the standards were secretly put in place by a board that wasn’t elected by the people (the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, also known as BESE). Since the state adopted the common standards in 2010, the group claims, the state’s educational outcomes have slumped and local educators no longer control what’s taught in the classroom.

In January, a group of parents and business leaders who support the Common Core sued the state, arguing that the ballot question does not seek to make a constitutional amendment or new law.

According to the Worcester Telegram, the state’s Supreme Judicial Court on Friday ruled that a portion of the question that requires test item disclosure does not meet the requirement that petitions contain only subjects “which are related or which are mutually dependent” so that voters can decide on a unified statement of public policy.

Board Chairman William Walczak of the Massachusetts’ Business Alliance for Education on Friday said in a statement, “The current standards focus on the skills and knowledge students need for success after high school. Superintendents, principals, teachers and parents support these standards and tell us they are working for students. The SJC decision will not only save teachers and students from unnecessary upheaval, but also means cities and town will not incur the significant costs that the ballot proposal would have created.”

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.