Lawsuit Filed Challenging North Dakota's Involvement In Common Core


A group of citizens, and one state lawmaker, have filed a lawsuit challenging the legality of North Dakota’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Consortium, the group charged with implementing Common Core standards in states contracting with it.

The group includes Bismarck-based activist Steve Cates, Rep. Bob Skarphol (R-Tioga), Catherine Cartier, and Charles Cartier.

“The suit asserts that the state is illegally participating in an unconstitutional entity called the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium that is in both form and function an illegal interstate compact,” Cates said in a press release. “This suit seeks to stop the disbursement of North Dakota public funds to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and end the state’s membership in that illegitimate organization. The suit names as defendants state officials charged with administering North Dakota’s actions toward that illegal organization.”

You can read the full filing below.

Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is named as the defendant in the case. Cates is working with the Thomas More Law Center. Here’s more from their press release:

The Compact Clause of the United States Constitution provides that “[n]o state shall, without the consent of Congress . . . enter into any agreement or compact with another state.” As the Smarter Balanced Consortium is an interstate compact which Congress did not authorize, its existence is a violation of the Constitution. Accordingly, North Dakota’s membership in the Consortium and membership fee payments of over a half million dollars per year, equate to participation in and funding of an illegal entity.

In addition to violations of the Compact Clause, SBAC also violates laws enacted by Congress.  For nearly fifty years, federal statutes have prohibited the Federal Government—and, in particular, the federal Department of Education—from controlling educational policy, including curriculum decisions and educational-assessment programs in elementary and secondary education.

Although an increasing number of governors and state legislatures have expressed reservations about Common Core, a majority of states still belong to either SBAC or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”), both directed by the Federal Government.

North Dakota’s agreement to participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium leaves North Dakota schools little choice but to align their curriculum to meet the imposed national standards and assessments, allowing the federal Department of Education to effectively control public education in North Dakota.

Cates noted in his release that a similar lawsuit in Missouri resulted in a court ruling finding that state’s involvement in the Smarter Balanced Consortium to be illegal. That ruling has been appealed, but in the meantime the Missouri legislature has cut off funding for Smarter Balanced.

Here’s the full complaint: