A group of pro-Common Core educators and business leaders seek to keep the referendum on Common Core off the ballot in Massachusetts in November.
Newbury Port News reports:
A group of educators and business leaders wants to block a ballot initiative that seeks to reject the Common Core, arguing that a move to abandon the educational standards would be disastrous.
The group wants a state judge to keep the referendum off the November 2016 ballot. It says the question is vaguely worded, conflicts with the state Constitution, and never should have been certified by Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State Bill Galvin.
Supporters of the ballot question call the challenge weak, and say voters should decide whether to adopt Common Core.
“They’re grasping at straws right now,” said Donna Colorio, founder of Common Core Forum, a nonprofit group that is leading the campaign. “And, by doing so, they’re trying to deprive parents and taxpayers of the right to vote on this.”
The ballot question asks voters to rescind a vote by the state’s Board of Elementary and Secondary Education five years ago to adopt Common Core for math and English. The initiative says Massachusetts should instead restore curriculum frameworks that were in place prior to that vote.
Colorio and other Common Core critics say the standards are a federal takeover of education that usurps local control.
“Common Core is a top-down educational standard,” she said. “We’re being ignored as parents and teachers.”
Supporters of Common Core say it would be complicated and costly — if not impossible, at this point — to back away from the standards because the state’s 408 school districts have spent years retraining teachers, buying new textbooks and revising their curricula around them.
“We’d be undoing the work thousands of Massachusetts educators have done in the past five years,” said Linda Noonan, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, which is advising the group, which has filed a lawsuit against Healey and Galvin in hopes of blocking the ballot question.
What I’m reading here is that this group is basically asking a judge to block a lawful referendum that was achieved by collecting the signatures required and went through all of the steps required by Massachusetts law to get on the ballot because this group doesn’t want to see their work undone.
That isn’t a legal argument. That’s not even a rational argument. That’s emoting. As far as the “vagueness” of the referendum question, I think the people filing the lawsuit need to look up the word vague because it seems pretty specific to me. Also how can a voter referendum, allowed by Massachusetts Constitution, conflict with the state constitution?
First, the state constitution states that government is ultimately accountable to the people.
Article VII says, “Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.”
They absolutely have a right to weigh in on Common Core via the ballot box as their constitution provides for voter referendums. These pro-Common Core advocates just want the power to remain with the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Here’s the language in the Constitution dealing with voter referendums:
Section 1. Legislative Procedure. – If an initiative petition for a law is introduced into the general court, signed in the aggregate by not less than such number of voters as will equal three per cent of the entire vote cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election, a vote shall be taken by yeas and nays in both houses before the first Wednesday of May upon the enactment of such law in the form in which it stands in such petition. If the general court fails to enact such law before the first Wednesday of May, and if such petition is completed by filing with the secretary of the commonwealth, not earlier than the first Wednesday of the following June nor later than the first Wednesday of the following July, a number of signatures of qualified voters equal in number to not less than one half of one per cent of the entire vote cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election, in addition to those signing such initiative petition, which signatures must have been obtained after the first Wednesday of May aforesaid, then the secretary of the commonwealth shall submit such proposed law to the people at the next state election. If it shall be approved by voters equal in number to at least thirty per cent of the total number of ballots cast at such state election and also by a majority of the voters voting on such law, it shall become law, and shall take effect in thirty days after such state election or at such time after such election as may be provided in such law.
So unless the group filing the lawsuit is saying they didn’t follow the proper procedure which they did or the Secretary of State and Attorney General wouldn’t have signed off on it, I’m unclear what is unconstitutional about this referendum. The state constitution does not restrict certain types of laws from being decided by voter referendum.
This is just an attempt at keep Massachusetts parents and concerned citizens from voting on Common Core. They are apparently afraid they will lose this referendum.