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“The Court finds that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented, whose existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution”
From the Missouri News Tribune:
Missouri government cannot make any payments to the California-based Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) because it is “an unlawful interstate compact to which the U.S. Congress has never consented,” Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green ruled Tuesday.
The ruling is a victory for opponents of the Common Core education standards, who challenged the financial process used to coordinate the standards among the states.
“Missouri’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as a member is unlawful under state and federal law,” Green also wrote in a two-page judgment issued 5½ weeks after he heard oral arguments.
Nanci Gonder, Attorney General Chris Koster’s spokeswoman, said Tuesday afternoon: “We are reviewing the ruling.”
Missouri’s use of the Common Core education standards was the main focus of the lawsuit, filed last September by three Missouri taxpayers — Fred N. Sauer, Anne Gassel and Gretchen Logue.
They said in the original 31-page lawsuit that they wanted to, among other things, “challenge expenditures of public funds and the potential increased levy in taxes that may result if this controversy is not resolved.”
In November, Green issued a temporary restraining order blocking the state from making any payments while the legal issues were argued.
The Common Core education standards have been pushed by education officials and governors around the nation since 2009, as a response to years of complaints that it’s been hard to compare test scores and students’ knowledge from one state to another.
The standards are designed to be the same for all the states that adopt them, to help show students’ common knowledge from one state to another.
The standards originally were created by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices — not the federal government.
However, opponents have argued the standards are an unnecessary and unneeded federal intrusion into states’ rights and abilities to set and control their own classrooms — especially after the Obama administration said adoption of Common Core would be a factor in the U.S. Education department’s decisions about which states would qualify for extra education funding through the “Race to the Top” competition.
The lawsuit didn’t challenge the standards themselves. Instead, it raised legal issues about the process used to coordinate the standards among the states.
The lawsuit said Gov. Jay Nixon and then-Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro (who retired at the end of 2014) have, since 2009, “engaged in a course of conduct that would have ceded Missouri’s sovereignty over educational policy within its borders to SBAC, an interstate consortium operating under the influence of federal regulators located in Washington, D.C.”
Also, they argued, Congress never sanctioned the interstate compact that created the consortium.
Their lawsuit offered a detailed legal analysis why the SBAC’s existence violates the U.S. Constitution and various “provisions of federal and Missouri law.”
Over the years, the lawsuit also said, Congress has passed several laws making sure “States and local governments retain control over education policy and decision making.”
Green’s order found SBAC’s “existence and operation violate the Compact Clause of the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 10, Clause 3, as well as numerous federal statutes; and that Missouri’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium as a member is unlawful under state and federal law.”
Green then declared “any putative obligations, including the obligation to pay membership fees, of the State of Missouri to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium … the University of California, and/or the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (collectively, ‘SBAC’) are illegal and void.”
The judge ordered each party in the case “to bear their own (legal) costs.”
Submitted by Dora Taylor