Yesterday, Utah’s Stop Common Core folks followed the example of Oklahoma and Maine, wearing grass-green T-shirts for a protest held in Salt Lake City outside the offices of the Utah State School Board.
Trucks honked, kids danced, families waved signs. Honestly, it was fun. A teenage protester (who was dancing with his “My Education is Not Your Experiment” sign) said he thought we were “pretty amateur protesters”. We are! Next time, we need soap boxes, megaphones for the cheerleaders, and a lot more people.
Two thousand people had signed the letter asking the board not to renew the federal waiver, in just 24 hours. But they didn’t all show up in person at the protest. Neither did the almost 12,000 people who have signed the Utahns Against Common Core petition.
Still, so many green shirts packed the public meeting of the board after the protest that two hallways outside the meeting were filled with green shirts, as well as the whole board room being filled and encircled by standing green shirts who could not find seats. The testimonies were incredible. Anyone without an already hardened heart would have been moved. I wish I could give you a link to hear what was spoken.
The vote didn’t go our way. The board signed the federal waiver that further cemented Utah to Common Core and continued the illusion (a bluff by the federal Dept. of Ed) that there is any authority for D.C. to tell Utah what to do in our schools.
Continuing Utah’s relationship with the federal waiver means that we are two steps away from removing Common Core, rather than just one. (This is because in order to get the federal waiver, Utah had to promise to do option A (common core) or option B (the also-unacceptable, unconstitutional delegation of state board authority to higher ed authorities).
A few board members had tried to sway the vote: Jeff Moss and Heather Groom, and possibly one or two others. We appreciate their efforts. But except for adding some language that affirmed the board’s wish to be sovereign over Utah’s standards, the waiver application got signed and sent to D.C. without hearing the parents and teachers who pleaded and testified against this move.
If you still don’t know who’s right and who’s wrong on this issue, consider the motivations and rewards of those who are asking for renewal of the federal waiver and Common Core, verus those who are asking for cessation of the federal waiver and Common Core. It’s pretty revealing to note that the letter to the board from Utah’s Chamber of Commerce members, favoring federal waiver renewal, was authored by Rich Kendall (the governor’s appointee to supposedly study whether Common Core is good or not) –who is a Gates grant recipient as an Education First member, and who is also a Common Core advocate as a Prosperity 2020 leading member. Remember that Gates is THE main financier of the whole Common Core and Common Data agenda. How can Rich Kendall be both an advocate for, and an impartial judge of Common Core? How can business people, directly making money from the implementation of Common Core, pretend to be objective in this discussion? How can the state school board take these people as credible witnesses?
There’s always the chance that D.C. will reject Utah’s waiver application as it did Washington’s. Then we’ll only be one step away from the possible removal of Common Core.
More articles, videos and photos of yesterday’s protest and the school board’s vote:
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/58276195-78/utah-waiver-board-state.html.csp