- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Ten Idaho residents led by the chairman of a conservative free-market think tank are suing the state over Common Core education standards.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Boise’s U.S. District Court. In it, Idaho Freedom Foundation board chairman Brent Regan contends that Idaho’s participation in an agency that helps test and implement Common Core standards is illegal under federal rules governing agreements between states.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium includes about 19 states and territories as members, and in exchange for membership dues the states get access to curriculum tools and assessments.

Similar lawsuits have targeted the same consortium in Missouri and North Dakota. A state judge in Missouri ruled in February that the state’s membership in the consortium was illegal and that payments must stop; that ruling is under appeal. The lawsuit in North Dakota is ongoing.

Jon Hanian, a spokesman for Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter who is named as a defendant along with Idaho Superintendent of Schools Sherri Ybarra and State Board of Education President Don Soltman, said the governor’s office hadn’t yet fully read the lawsuit and was unable to comment.

In the lawsuit, Regan and the other plaintiffs contend that the state’s participation in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an illegal interstate compact that has never been ratified by the U.S. Congress. Interstate compact rules allow states to work together to address common problems. Federal law requires that some types of compacts must be approved by Congress, however, in an effort to prevent states from unduly increasing their own power at the expense of the federal government.

Regan and the other plaintiffs say that the state should be banned from using taxpayer money to pay the consortium’s dues. They contend that the state’s adoption of Common Core standards pursuant to its membership in the consortium is unconstitutional. “Idaho taxpayers have and will suffer irreparable harm if taxpayer funds continue to be disbursed by the State of Idaho to support SBAC, the illegal interstate compact, before the issues raised in this lawsuit are resolved by the Court,” Regan’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.

Regan and the other plaintiffs are represented by Christ Troupis, an attorney who unsuccessfully challenged Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden in the primary election last year, and Bryan Smith, an attorney who unsuccessfully challenged 2nd District Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson in the same primary.

When the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium started in 2010, it had more than 30 states and territories as members, but that number has dropped to fewer than 20 today. Another multistate consortium, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, currently has 11 states and Washington, D.C., as members. Both organizations are funded in part by the U.S. Department of Education as well as with membership dues.

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