Dear Superintendent Menlove   Leave a comment

Dear Superintendent Menlove,
Congratulations on your new role as Superintendent of Utah Schools.
As a Utah teacher with an up-to-date credential, who has taught high school English, 3rd grade, and Freshmen and Remedial English at Utah Valley University, I’m writing to ask four questions:
1.  Why have Utah education leaders allowed classic literature to be minimized –and almost eliminated– by the time our students reach 12th grade, under the new Common Core?
I do not believe that increasing the amount of informational text and decreasing the amount of time-tested classic fiction that we expose students to, is a good idea. (Neither do many of my colleagues and friends, including, notably, Professor Alan Manning of BYU, an English Language/Linguistics expert who told me he is also alarmed at the damage Common Core is going to do to our educational system.)
2.  Why was the theft of classic literature from high school seniors and others done without transparency?  The decision remove so much classic literature from our schools has been done without any sort of vote or vetting, and without a request for input ever being put out toward lifelong educators like me or Professor Manning, and without parents being told what kind of transformation was happening to their children’s literacy program –without their consent.
3. Why have we accepted a cap on learning?  I have learned that Utah is under a mandate not to add more than 15% content to the Common Core minimum standards, and that the Common Core is under copyright by a nonelected group called CCSSO/NGA.  This troubles me; we should not have given away our voice over our own educational standards.  We should not allow anyone to put a cap of 15% or any other percent, on what we teach our students.  This seems like a sovereignty issue as well as an educational issue, to me.
4. Why won’t Utah Technology Director, Utah Data Alliance Director (and state database-combiner) John Brandt answer a teacher’s or a parent’s questions?
It is of great concern that our students are being tracked with personally identifiable information, not aggregate data, by a State Longitudinal Database that  creates a permanent record of nonacademic, family, health, psychological, and academic data for every child in Utah.  This, too, has been done without parental knowledge; the only reason I know is that I asked the Utah State School Board if it was true.  I asked them if I could opt out of this P-20 surveillance of children.  Their email indicated that the answer was no; there is no way to opt out of the tracking.
I have repeatedly emailed Utah Technology Director John Brandt to ask him about the data collection issue, and he will not respond to me nor to other citizens’ emails.
These issues are deeply troubling.  Please let me know what you understand about these issues, and what you plan to do to right these wrongs.
Sincerely,
Christel Swasey

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