Dear Representatives and Senators:
I’m writing to ask what steps the legislature plans to take to protect our citizens from Common Core’s mediocre standards and non-representation. Here are a few suggestions.
Included in the duties of the state school board to direct education is no authority to give their authority to direct education away, to forces beyond the Utah Constitution’s jurisdiction (forces that include NGA,CCSSO, Dept. of Ed, consortia, etc.) Can the state school board can be held accountable for that sobering overstep of Utah Constitutional authority?
The Utah legislature can add conditions or prohibitions to the funding that are provided to the School Board. An option would be to attach a requirement that funds cannot be used to implement Common Core as it currently stands, requiring a process that involves top scholars nationally to revisit the standards and revise them to ensure that math standards are truly internationally competitive. Similarly, something could added regarding the focus of English standards on classic literature rather than allowing the Common Core mandate of dominance for info-texts over classic literature and narrative writing.
It is appropriate for the Legislature to require a detailed cost analysis of what it has and will cost to implement Common Core.
Common Core annulment may loom as an embarrassing and awkward step for a few leaders, but to not end the arrangement is a much more serious mistake. Right now, when only a handful of Utah schools have already implemented Common Core, it will be the easiest time for Utah to change course. It may not even be possible, later. As Jim Stergios of Pioneer Institute has said, “Gentlemen’s agreements quickly turn into mandates.” We should agree to reject what we now recognize as literature-limiting, math-slowing, cursive-ending, un-Amendable standards.
TRANSPARENCY AND EDUCATOR INPUT
The USOE and State School Board is not listening to educators or citizens who oppose Common Core. They claim to have spent time with us, but in reality, they flee from any discussion of the standards, especially with a credentialed Utah teacher like me, because I oppose the national standards. I’ve been told “no” to a face-to-face talk with lawyer Carol Lear, and have had numerous written requests for references and verification of Common Core’s claims of “rigor” totally ignored by Superintendent Larry Shumway and USOE’s Brenda Hales.
Disregarding the unanchored claims and promises (of CCSSO’s Gene Wilhoit, Sec. Arne Duncan, and the USSB/USOE) we are left with the legally binding, written facts, the simplicity of which are startling:
1. NGA/CCSSO is in charge of Utah’s standards.
2. NGA/CCSSO holds copyright.
3. US Dept of Ed sets a cap on the copyrighted standards at 15%. No amendment process exists.
4. Limitation of classic literature.
5. Limitation of math.
6. Common Core only prepares kids for nonselective community college, according to Common Core architect Jason Zimba himself.
7. Common tests require giving data directly to the federal government, including nonacademic and family data.
8. No voice exists for Utah to change any of it –except to pull out of Common Core.
We do not want to be found siding with those who are trampling on freedom of education and the sacred right to privacy. This is one of the most important fights there could ever be– the educational decisionmaking power that touches our own children’s lives. Giving in to nationalized standards will set a precedent for more and more educational intrusion by forces who have no legitimate stakeholder vote.
I am asking you to be heroes to future generations of students and teachers in leading Utah’s reclamation of educational freedom and citizen privacy. All of America is watching.
Utah parent and educator