Education

Common Core-Killing Ballot Measure Torpedoed In Massachusetts

Common Core has a new lease on life in Massachusetts, after the state’s top court torpedoed a ballot measure seeking to abolish the curricula, finding the measure violated state law.

The group End Common Core in Massachusetts collected over 30,000 signatures for its proposed measure, far in excess of the amount needed to secure a spot on the November 8 ballot. The measure would have required Massachusetts to repeal Common Core, which it adopted in 2010, and replace it with the state’s old standards. The measure would have also required the state to appoint a committee of college professors to make sure Massachusetts’ standards were aligned with those used in other technologically advanced places.

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Instead of getting a chance before voters, the measure died Friday in a Massachusetts courtroom, when the state’s Supreme Judicial Court ruled that its structure was illegal.

Massachusetts state law requires that an initiated measure concern a single topic. In her ruling, Judge Margot Botsford agreed with Common Core supporters who said the proposed measure violated this requirement by including two unrelated provisions.

The initiative would have also required the state to publicly release all questions on whatever standardized tests it uses, so they can be scrutinized by the public. Botsford held that testing transparency and school standards do not directly concern one another, meaning an initiative concerning both topics was invalid.

Botsford’s ruling means that, at least for this election cycle, End Common Core’s work was all for naught.

“No emotions can express how disappointed we are with the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today,” Donna Colorio of End Common Core told the Wicked Local. “Parents, educators, and concerned citizens collected over 100,000 signatures to put this critical question on the ballot, and their voices have been silenced by this disastrous ruling.”

While Common Core foes were forlorn over the ruling, supporters of the standards rejoiced.

“Superintendents, principals, teachers and parents support these standards and tell us they are working for students,” said William Walczak, a plaintiff in the case and a member of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education. “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.”

While several Republican-dominated states, such as Oklahoma and Indiana, officially repealed Common Core, Massachusetts would have been the first Democrat-controlled state to withdraw.

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