Common Core supporters sue to prevent vote

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BOSTON –  Supporters of Common Core sued Friday to prevent Massachusetts voters from having an opportunity to weigh in on whether the Commonwealth should keep or scrap the controversial federal standards.

The 10 plaintiffs – including a former education commissioner, business leaders, parents and one teacher – filed suit against Attorney General Maura Healey and Secretary of State William Galvin in the Supreme Judicial Court, arguing that a proposed ballot measure to “End Common Core” is not technically valid.

The complaint claims that the citizens initiative “is not in the proper form for submission to the people,” that it contains subjects that “are not related or mutually dependent,” and that it, therefore violates the state constitution.

Healey certified the ballot question on the status of Common Core early last fall, along with 21 other ballot questions. If the proposed initiative clears all procedural hurdles, voters in November will have an opportunity to decide whether to direct the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to rescind its 2010 vote to adopt the federal standards for math and English and revert to the state’s own pre-Common Core standards.  

Although the board voted last fall to implement a new student assessment they are calling MCAS 2.0, the underlying Common Core standards, upon which any new test must be based, remain in place.

The citizens group “End Common Core Massachusetts,” which last fall collected more than 76,000 certified signatures (more than the required 64,750 signatures needed to advance the measure) called the lawsuit a “desperate ploy” to stop parents and other voters from having their say.

Healey faced similar objections in the summer of 2015 while the petition was under review, End Common Core Massachusetts chairman Donna Colorio said in a statement Monday.

“They already tried to stop this last summer and they failed,” she said. “Now they are trying to tie this matter up in court and deny citizens the right to vote on this important question.”

The role of the state Attorney General’s office in certifying or advancing ballot initiatives is ministerial, not political.  

“We certify ballot initiatives based on the law, to see if they meet certain constitutional requirements,” a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office said in an email to the NewBostonPost Monday. “We work cooperatively with parties who wish to challenge our rulings. The most important thing is to get the right result.”

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or on Twitter @karabettis