SJC Derails Common Core Standards Ballot Question

A citizens-backed initiative petition that sought to end the state's use of Common Core learning standards was improperly certified by Attorney General Maura Healey and is now ineligible for the November ballot, according to a Supreme Judicial Court ruling on Friday.

The decision "will prevent the proposed measure in the petition from being placed on the 2016 Statewide ballot," the court said in a ruling written by Judge Margot Botsford.

The petition sought to roll back the 2010 incorporation of the Common Core standards into the state's curriculum frameworks and revert Massachusetts to its previous standards. It also would have set up a new review structure for learning standards and mandated that education officials annually release all state assessment test "questions, constructed responses and essays, for each grade and every subject."

The court ruled that a section of the question requiring test item disclosure did 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.

"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," William Walczak, a plaintiff in the case and board chairman of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, said in a statement.

During oral arguments in May, Assistant Attorney General Juliana Rice had said the release of assessment items was related to the repeal of Common Core because the tests were an "implementation tool" that would show whether the chosen standards were taught in classrooms.

Donna Colorio, Worcester School Committee vice chair and chair of the End Common Core Massachusetts, did not have an immediate comment when reached by the News Service Friday morning.

When the suit was filed in January, the End Common Core ballot campaign blasted the move as "a desperate ploy to stall the petition's positive momentum." In March, Colorio alleged that "the wealthy special interests behind Common Core are going to continue the frivolous lawsuits, misrepresentations of the ballot measure, and using money the buy their influence at the state and local level."



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