The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that the language in the Common Core ballot initiative is unconstitutional.
In their opinion they wrote:
We conclude, as the plaintiffs argue, that the Attorney General’s certification of Initiative Petition 15- 12 did not comply with art. 48, The Initiative, II, § 3, of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution because it contains provisions that are not related or mutually dependent.
They further explain:
An initiative petition properly may contain only subjects “which are related or which are mutually dependent.” Art. 48, The Initiative, II, § 3. The two subjects in this petition are clearly not “mutually dependent.” In fact, the opposite seems true. That is, whether the diagnostic assessment tests are based on the common core standards or some previous set of academic standards — the focus of sections 1 through 3 of the petition — will not affect in any way the commissioner’s obligation under section 4 to release before the start of every school year all of the previous year’s test items in order to inform educators about the testing process; the commissioner’s obligation will exist independently of the specific curriculum content on which the tests are based.
In a nutshell they said voters are in an untenable situation to vote yes or no on both the standards and the assessment because those are two separate, distinct questions. Had the standards and the assessment been two separate ballot questions that may have satisfied the Court on this particular issue. They didn’t rule on the other claims made by the plaintiff.
Donna Colorio of End Common Core Massachusetts expressed disappointment in the ruling in a released statement:
No emotions can express how disappointed we are with the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today.
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.
This ruling is an example of big special interest money using intimidation tactics with scores of lawyers and public relations machines to do what is best for them and drown out the voices of the people. The special interests behind Common Core do not want an open and fair debate about education in Massachusetts, so they rely on legal maneuvers and technicalities to control public education in Massachusetts.
The ones who really lost are the students. They are the ones most negatively affected by this ruling.
We are not sure what the next steps may be, but we are exploring all of our options. There was never a doubt in our mind that if the truth was brought before the voters in November, Common Core would have ended in Massachusetts and the very best standards in the nation would have been restored.
The special interests may have won this time, but ultimately the people will prevail and overcome a corrupted system that does not represent the children and their future.
We will continue to fight for our children and try to make sure Massachusetts has the best possible education for our students.