Common Core Q&A for Public Gatherings   Leave a comment

Dear Schools, PTA groups, and political groups,

I’m a Utah educator and parent.

I’m writing to you to volunteer to answer questions publically concerning Utah’s adoption of the Common Core Initiative and what it means to educators, students and parents.  I am happy to present only the “sever ties with Common Core” side, and equally happy to be part of a pros and cons debate if you can find someone to defend the Common Core from the USOE (so far, I have not been successful in that effort.  They don’t want to answer questions.)

My neighbors and I have researched and found evidence that important state educational freedoms have been lost via the Common Core Initiative.  They may appear to be intact, they may be defended by some at the USOE, but evidence is solid that our state educational autonomy will be gone when the Common Core Initiative is fully implemented in 2014-2015.  Evidence not disclosed by Larry Shumway or the Utah State Office of Education proves this to be the case.

I’ve been studying the Common Core Initiative intensively for three weeks.  It has come to my attention that the initiative lacks transparency, is promoted heavily by special interests and the federal Department of Education, and threatens Utah’s educational sovereignty in real and permanent ways.  When I ask the USOE to answer questions, I get rhetoric rather than documented proof that we have local control of our own state’s education under the Common Core Initiative.

 

The question is not “does it raise Utah’s standards?” but “will Utah have any control over her own standards once full implementation of the Common Core initiative has taken place?”  Sadly, the answer is no.  Equally important:  why don’t we have a cost analysis of what is sure to be a multi billion dollar, mostly state-paid, initiative?  Sadly, the answer is: because proponents of Common Core find it expedient to gloss over costs, and, because the Congressional Budget Office, as well as the voting, taxpaying public and legislature, was left out of this “state-led” initiative.

 

Common Core slid under the radar because it was not sought after by Utah; rather, it was an afterthought:  Utah wanted to win the RTTT grant.  A condition of candidacy was Common Core and SBAC membership.  We didn’t win the grant.  Brenda Hales of the USOE assured me Utah got “not one red cent,” yet we are stuck with CC and SBAC membership and its federal entanglements.

 

We have some wiggle room now to get out before full implementation makes it cost prohibitive.

 

For teachers who like the Common Core standards, let’s be clear:  all the academic values of Common Core are available via public domain.  We can keep whatever works for Utah.  But we should keep those portions under Utah’s sovereign standards, not under the Common standards.  There are two sets of standards, Utah’s, and the federal standards.  The kids will be tested on the federal set.

 

I’m attaching a just a sampling of relevant documents and this link to South Carolina’s legislative testimony on the subject of getting out of Common Core: http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120216_Testimony_Stergios_SC.pdf.

 

A group of Heber City residents including me have petitioned the Governor to study the legal aspects of Common Core and then to get Utah out ASAP.  Unfortunately, there is a spiral of silence at the USOE.  The legal department won’t answer questions.  The official Common Core Spokeswoman’s statements contradict legal documents (RTTT grant, Cooperative Agreement, etc.) that bind Utah to the SBAC and the CCI.  And the legal department hasn’t read the documents.

 

I created a blog on this subject today.  It’s not fancy, but it’s got links to the evidence:  https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com

 

I am speaking on the Heber City KTMP radio program on Thursday.  I am speaking at a pros-cons public debate in Heber April 26th. I am speaking at the “public commentary” time at the State School Board meeting this week. I have written two opinion editorial for local newspapers.  One has been published; one is about to be published this week.  I am trying to turn around this elephant.

 

Two fellow teachers and parents with me are volunteering now to speak at any public gathering, large or small, if you would like to have us answer questions based on our research and the research of other free-thinking, non-federally funded organizations.

 

Educating the public, teachers, administrators and taxpayers about the full ramifications of Common Core is crucial if we are to retain educational sovereignty –and state solvency– in the years to come.

 

Respectfully,

Christel Swasey

 

Heber City

 

Posted April 10, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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