What’s so bad about Common Core?   Leave a comment

How the Common Core Educational Initiative hurts kids, teachers, parent rights and Utah’s budget

Why are many Utah teachers and parents questioning Utah’s adoption of Common Core Education and the SBAC tests?


  • No cost analysis was done before Utah adopted Common Core.
  • No legislative input has been used to consider Common Core and the public doesn’t know what it is.
  • The Federal Government, not states, have control of educational testing under Common Core.


  • No local control of educational standards can happen under Common Core. The standards are copyrighted and cannot be amended by legislators or educators.
  • Common Core lowers standards in significant ways. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/state_edwatch/Controlling-Education-From-the-Top%5B1%5D.pdf
  • Other states are have opted out of Common Core for smart reasons. (Virginia, Texas)
  • No law states that the Federal Government can withhold educational funding from states if they refuse to adopt Common Core.
  •  Common Core gives Utah nothing good that we didn’t already have access to without giving up our autonomy.   
  • Common Core requires Utah to “address barriers in state law” including FERPA (privacy law) that takes away parental authority over private student data in favor of “all stakeholders” being able to view both academic and nonacademic student data. 

 Here’s why:

How Common Core affects kids, teachers, and Utah’s budget 

Why are some Utah teachers and parents questioning Utah’s adoption of Common Core and the SBAC tests?

1.  No cost analysis of Common Core has been done in Utah nor been provided by the U.S. Department of Education.  Researchers estimate that Common Core implementation will cost consortium states 16 billion dollars collectively over the next seven years, a sum that goes on top of the costs states already struggle to come up with for schools. States adopting Common Core will need to spend billions in one-time costs and ongoing implementation costs to obtain aligned English language arts and mathematics instructional materials.

2.  No public or legislative input. Common Core and SBAC membership require many changes to Utah’s educational system but legislators and the public were hardly aware of the adoption of the Common Core Initiative, and the Congressional Budget Office was never asked to review costs. The Common Core Initiative slipped under the radar of just about everyone except Utah Superintendent Shumway, the 15-member State School Board, and the Governor.

3. No local control of testing is assured under the Common Core initiative and its accompanying SBAC membership.

Although the USOE is correct in stating that control is to be maintained by Utah over the Utah standards because the Utah Board can vote to change the Utah standards, that is a moot point.  WestEd, the testing arm of the SBAC, has affirmed that they are writing the test to match CCSS standards. Utah’s educational standards will very soon be irrelevant; power and control are held by the SBAC  because teachers teach to tests.  When teachers realize that the Utah standards are not perfectly aligned with the SBAC test, they will abandon the 15% unique Utah Core and will teach to the national CCSS standards. The binding Federal Department of Education/SBAC Agreement document shows all reports concerning the test will be controlled and overseen by the federal government. The Federal Department of Education, in the same document, mandates information sharing “across consortia,” meaning that all the SBAC states (like Utah) plus all the PARCC states (like Florida) must coordinate tests as well as sharing all results with the Federal Department of Education.  This triangulates data and means we have directly signed up for nationalized, centralized testing and have indirectly signed up for nationalized standards and curriculum.

Our State School Superintendent sits on the board of WestEd, the SBAC’s testing arm.

4. No local control of standards is assured under the Common Core initiative and its accompanying SBAC membership.

There are two sets of Common Core standards.

1) The CCSS are the federal standards, developed by a D.C. group called Achieve, Inc., and these CSSS are the basis for the test that Utah students will take.

2) The Utah Core Standards (USS) are our state’s version of the CCSS standards.  Utah was “allowed,” by the rules of CC, to add up to 15% of our own local content to their standards and curriculum. Yes, we could teach our own USS and curriculum, but we would only be tested on the CSSS.

Our state has a voice on the SBAC testing board, but had no voice in what had already been written in the CCSS governing standards by Achieve, Inc., nor in the Cooperative Agreement document that binds Utah via the tests to the Federal Government’s oversight and coordination.

5. No amendment process exists.

There is no local process for amending the CSSS standards, upon which  the SBAC test Utah kids will take, is based.

6. Common Core lowers standards in signficant ways.

Expert testimonies argue that Common Core lowers standards in significant areas.  One of the official Common Core Validation Committee members, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, refused to sign off on the CCSS because they “significantly weaken the intellectual demands on students in the areas of language and literature. They also weaken the base of literary and cultural knowledge needed for actual college-level work.” Stanford Professor Michael Kirst wrote, ” My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for four-year universities, two-year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented”. Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman testified that “Common Core is not on par with international high achievers, nor will meeting Common Core qualify students for entry to either CSU or UC.[i]

7. Other states are fleeing the Common Core entanglement:

Texas refused to join Common Core, citing the fact that their math standards were already higher than Common Core, and they valued state sovereignty over consortia membership.  Virginia valued its Sequences of Learning and had already invested financially in SOL; also, Virginia did a cost analysis on Common Core and quickly said, “No, thanks”.  South Carolina, like Utah, initially joined, but is now opting out of Common Core.  South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said that she saw no difference in ceding control to the Federal Government and ceding control to a consortium of states. Senator Mike Fair said that South Carolina had “sold our educational birthright without even getting the mess of pottage”.

8. No law states that the Federal Government can withhold educational funding from states if they refuse to adopt Common Core. Although the Federal Government is attempting to bribe states to stay in Common Core by holding out the No Child Left Behind waivers as a trade, Utah should not succumb to the bait.  We are protected by the U.S. Constitution and cannot be force to submit by our Executive Branch, which holds no legal authority over education in any state in our country.  Three federal laws in addition to the U.S. Constitution state that the federal government has zero authority to direct states’ education. Senator Rubio of Florida is currently in the news over this very issue.

9. Common Core gives Utah nothing that we didn’t already have.  Utah can access and use any standard we find useful in Common Core. Utah receives no benefit from Common Core membership that isn’t already available, but we do take on financial burdens, obligations, and threats to our educational autonomy and diversity if we do this under the thumb of Common Core.

Posted April 6, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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