Judge Rules South Dakota’s Adoption of Common Core Tests Is Legal

Published July 6, 2016

A South Dakota judge has ruled in favor of the state government in a lawsuit brought by two parents alleging the state’s adoption of a compact with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a group providing states with tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards, is unconstitutional. 

Plaintiffs Amber Mauricio and Shelli Grinager, with support from the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), filed the suit in November 2015. The plaintiffs claimed the state’s adoption of SBAC is unconstitutional because the state failed to obtain congressional approval for its action.

TMLC wrote in a press release regarding the lawsuit, “Plaintiffs seek to stop South Dakota from paying yearly SBAC membership fees totaling over $600,000 by state taxpayers on the grounds that SBAC is an unconstitutional compact.”

The release also said the state’s membership in SBAC “was never approved by Congress, as required by the Compact Clause” of the U.S. Constitution regarding interstate compacts.

South Dakota Circuit Court Judge Mark Barnett ruled in June 2016 court documents show the Constitution does not require congressional approval for the state’s action and the state had not violated any laws.

Hope for Appeal

Lora Hubbel, a former South Dakota state representative and current Republican gubernatorial candidate, says the ruling is “discouraging.”  

“In South Dakota, we are, by law, supposed to develop our own educational standards, and instead we opted to ignore the will of the people and adopt the federal standards of Common Core,” Hubbel said. “I dearly hope we will appeal.”

‘Guilty of Malfeasance’

Tonchi Weaver, a board member of SD Citizens for Liberty, says the way the state adopted SBAC takes power out of the hands of South Dakotans.

“They are guilty of malfeasance, because they used their official positions to surrender [South Dakota’s] state sovereignty over education policy to the governing board of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium,” Weaver said.

“Common Core sacrifices the natural yearning for knowledge and truth on the altar of ‘consensus’ and collective thought,” said Weaver. “Children have a right to be who they are, determine their own interests, develop their own talents, and blossom at their own pace.”

Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.