Addendum: If the USOE would care to respond to any of this information as a rebuttal, I would be happy to post it on this website. Consider this a challenge to debunk our information with documented facts.

The Utah State Office of Education has published a pamphlet to try and tell people that all the concerns being raised about Common Core are just dust in the wind. Here is a link to their flier and an excellent rebuttal by Utah school teacher Christel Swasey.

USOE Flier (PDF)

Education Without Representation

Response to claims of the Utah School Board’s flier

The Utah State Board of Education has a flier which is also posted on the official website. http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/DOCS/coreStandardsPamphlet.aspx

None of the claims of the flier have been backed up with references. This response will be backed up with references to verifiable sources and legally binding documents.

  • The State Board flier states that this is a myth: “Utah adopted nationalized education standards that come with federal strings attached.”

FACT:   Utah’s Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Education (via the SBAC tests; link below) presents so many federal strings, it’s more like federal rope around Utah’s neck.

The Cooperative Agreement mandates synchronization of testing arms and testing, mandates giving status updates and written reports and phone conferences with the federal branch and it demands that “across consortia,” member states provide data “on an ongoing basis” for perusal by the federal government. This federal control is, according to G.E.P.A. laws and the U.S. Constitution, an illegal encroachment by the federal government on our state. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf

FACT:  The Federal government paid for the promotion of Common Core. It paid other groups to do what it is constitutionally forbidden to do. Each group that worked to develop the standards and/or the test were federally funded and each remains under compliance regulations of federal grants. For two examples, PARCC (a testing consortium) was funded through a four-year, $185 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education to delivering a K-12 assessment system. http://www.achieve.org/achieve-names-three-directors. WestED, the other consortium test writer for SBAC, is funded by the executive branch, including the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Justice. http://www.wested.org/cs/we/print/docs/we/fund.htm. There are many more examples of federal funding and federal promotion of this supposedly state-led initative if you just do a little digging.

FACT: To exit the SBAC, a state must get federal approval and the permission of a majority of consortium states.  http://www.oaknorton.com/Utah-rttt.zip  (page 297).

FACT: When South Carolina recently made moves to sever ties with the Common Core Initiative, Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, began to make angry, unsubstatiated attacks, insulting South Carolina.   http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-1   Duncan had similarly insulted Texas educators on national television and had made incorrect statements about Texas education, when that state refused to join Common Core.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2089503,00.html

  • The State Board flier states that this is a myth: “Utah taxpayers will have to pay more money to implement the new Utah Core Standards.” 

FACT: No cost analysis has been done by Utah. (Ask U.S.O.E. to see one.)

FACT: Other states cited high implementation costs as reasons they rejected the Common Core Initiative. The Texas Education Agency estimated implementing the Common Core standards in the state would result in professional development costs of $60 million for the state and approximately $500 million for local school districts, resulting in a total professional development cost of $560 million. http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120222_CCSSICost.pdf (p. 15) Also, Virginia’s State School Board cited both educational and financial reasons for rejecting Common Core. http://www.doe.virginia.gov/news/news_releases/2010/jun16.pdf

FACT: California is asking for tax hikes right now to pay for Common Core Implementation. http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/california-wants-a-tax-hike-to-pay-for-common-core/

FACT:  South Carolina’s Governor Haley is right now trying to escape Common Core’s federal and financial entanglements. http://www.educationnews.org/education-policy-and-politics/sc-gov-nikki-haley-backs-bill-to-block-common-core-standards/

  • The State Board flier says that Utah is “free to change the Utah Core Standards at any time,” and calls the following truth a myth: “Adoption of these new Core Standards threatens the ability of parents, teachers and local school districts to control curriculum.”   These half-truths are so misleading.

FACT: It is true that Utah can change the current Utah Core. But Utah is not free to change the common CCSS standards. And very soon, the CCSS standards will be all we’ll teach. The CCSS standards are the only standards the common test is being written to. The CCSS standards are the only standards that are truly common to all Common Core states.  Unique state standards are meaningless in the context of the tests.  This has been verified by WestEd, the test maker.  http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/04/06/what-is-wested-and-why-should-you-care/

When teachers realize that merit pay and student performance depend on how well teachers teach the CCSS, and not on how well they teach the Utah Core, they will abandon the state core and focus on teaching to the CCSS-based test. Since there is no possibility for Utah to make changes to CCSS, we have given up our educational system if we take the common test. This is education without representation. Already there are significant differences between the Utah Core and the CCSS (such as, we allow lots of classic literature and CCSS does not; it favors slashing literature in favor of infotexts in English classes). When additional wrongheaded changes come to the CCSS standards, under Common Core, Utah will be unable to do anything about it. CCSS has no amendment process.

FACT:  The CCSS standards amount to education without representation.  They cannot be amended by us, yet they are sure to change over time.  A U.S.O.E. lawyer was asked, “Why is there no amendment process for the CCSS standards?” She did not claim that there was one.  Instead, she replied:  “Why would there need to be? The whole point is to be common.” (Email received April 2012 by C. Swasey from C. Lear)

  • The State Board flier states that “The Utah Core Standards were created, like those in 44 other states, to address the problem of low expectations.”

This is a half-truth. While some dedicated Utahns have been working to address the problem of low expectations for years, the Common Core Initiative was hastily adopted for financial reasons. Utah agreed to join the Common Core and the SBAC long before the common standards had even been written or released, or any cost analysis or legal analysis had taken place. Utah joined Common Core and the SBAC to get more eligibility points in the points-based “Race to the Top” grant application. While Utah didn’t win the grant money, it stayed tied to Common Core and the SBAC testing consortium afterwards. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/utah.pdf

  • The State Board flier states that this is a myth:  “Political leaders and education experts oppose the Common Core State Standards.”

FACT:  Stanford Professor Michael Kirst testified, among other things, that it is unrealistic to call four year, two year, and vocational school preparation equal college readiness preparation: http://collegepuzzle.stanford.edu/?p=466

FACT:  Professor Sandra Stotsky who served on the CC Validation Committee refused to sign off on the standards as authentic English preparation for college: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/2011/04/sandra-stotsky-on-the-mediocrity-of-the-common-core-ela-standards/

FACT:  Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman has testified to the South Carolina Legislature that the math standards are insufficient college preparation: http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120216_Testimony_Stergios_SC.pdf and http://truthinamericaneducation.com/tag/zeev-wurman/

  • The State Board flier inaccurately states: “Most thoughtful people on this issue have lined up in favor of the Common Core State Standards.”

FACT:  Governor Herbert is in the middle of a legal, educational and financial review of the standards right now. He affirmed to Heber City teachers and citizens last month that he is willing to review the standards and the political complications of the Common Core Initiative and to meet again with the teachers and citizens together with his legal team.

FACT: The majority of gubernatorial candidates and candidates for senate and house representation at the Republican convention have stated that they are directly opposed to the Common Core Initiative.  This fact is verifiable via the document published for the 2012 Republican convention by Alisa Ellis, on which each candidate was asked to state whether he/she was for, against, or still learning, about the Common Core Initiative.

FACT:  In less than two weeks, more than 1,500 Utah teachers, parents, taxpayers and students have signed the petition at  http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com without any advertising or marketing efforts, just by word of mouth.

FACT:  There is a significant group of Utah educators who have not and will not speak out in this forum, although they do have serious concerns about the Common Core.  There is a perception that to speak against the Common Core Initiative is unacceptable or disloyal. This spiral of silence spins from the fear educators have of losing their jobs if they express what they really see. Some educators quietly and confidentially reveal this to others who boldly oppose to Common Core.

Utah educators might respond well to an anonymously administered survey, so that educators might feel safer in sharing multifaceted, or less rose-colored experiences in this first year of Common Core Implementation, without having to identify themselves.  Educators who have had a good experience with this first year of implementation of Common Core dare speak out.  But Utah educators who do speak out boldly against common core, if you pay close attention, are those who are on maternity leave or who have sources of income other than educating, for financial support, and are thus unafraid of losing jobs.

This final point is obviously difficult to substantiate, but ought to be studied and either verified or proven false, by the Utah State School Board.

18 Responses to Correcting the USOE’s “Facts” – Education without Representation

  • Kaye Wilson says:

    Thank you for the information. I know someone personally who is being harrassed because she is standing against the government completely indoctrinating our children across the nation on what they want taught. IT is hard to stand up anymaore for your beliefs and values; WE THE PEOPLE need to be strong! Don’t just rubber stamp anything because someone tells yuou itis so. In Utah we tend to be very trusting, and we need to be more cautious and find out what it really true.

  • John Locke says:

    Two relatives, members of my wife’s family, one of whom is a high-school science teacher, and the other who has been a counselor in elementary school for several years both stated at a recent family dinner that they would not answer truthfully, even if the survey were conducted anonymously, regarding their opposition to the new “core” standards (both have indicated they believe the changes to curriculum will harm students). They both feel that the chances of retaliation are too high, and they don’t feel that they can trust the “anonymity” of the survey would be protected.

    • Oak says:

      I agree with John Locke and would be happy to host the survey as an interested 3rd party who will guard any IP address and personal information without ever divulging it. Nothing personal has to even be gathered unless we needed to verify that individuals were not taking the survey multiple times (though there are ways to ensure that).

  • Susie Schnell says:

    Thank you Christel for writing this up! This is exactly what I was thinking while sitting there at the State meeting Thursday night. They spent OUR tax dollars on expensive color fliers with cute pictures of children and label their feely good rhetoric ‘FACTS’, and our documented proof ‘FICTION’ but don’t offer any references to PROVE that their ‘claims’ are indeed facts. Those fliers must have cost thousands of tax payer dollars. Once again, we’re to believe anything coming from the district because they say so. But where is the documentation based on signed legal documents? These are supposed to be educators. If a student turned in a research paper to even a Jr. High school teacher without stating references in footnotes and a bibliography to back up where all the information came from, they’d throw that paper back with an F. If educators expect their students to prove their arguments with documented facts, we expect the same from them.

    On the contrary, the reason we know that all of our claims are facts is because we did our homework! We took the time to look up the contracts and official documentation (with absolutely no help from Utah State Office of Education, by the way). In fact, we gave them all OUR information because they either ignored the request or said they didn’t have it. We wanted to make sure both sides had the same information. And the governor says he doesn’t remember signing anything? We found that too and made sure that he got a copy. In fact, he not only signed us onto nationalized ObamaCore years ago, he had all our documents and heard our concerns way before any candidate this election cycle. Yet he chose to ignore the facts, believe his staff and attack his opponents over this because they saw the danger when he didn’t.

    It is time administrators and PTA leaders stop handing out expensive undocumented rhetoric as fact and be honest with the public. The PTA was paid $2 Million from Bill Gates to make up fliers to sway the public. There is an easy way to solve this argument…LOOK AT THE SIGNED LEGAL DOCUMENTS and have an intelligent conversation with concerned citizens instead of spending more of OUR TAXES on cute colorful fliers to sway the public against us. Stacking the supposed public comment meeting with Pro-Common Core teachers, administrators and PTA leaders to take up 1/2 of our precious time was obvious. Only teachers, school board members and PTA leaders stood on the Pro Common Core side. Not one parent. But there were many in the education field who stood with parents.

    Again thank you Christel for sending this documentation out for everyone to see the facts. We’re getting tired of warm fuzzies from the state that everything is fine, we love the children, and stay out of our business because educators know more than parents, as if you are the only ones with an education. If you disagree with our findings, show us your proof. We’ve showed you ours.

    Susie

  • Alisa says:

    Christel,

    Thank you for the work you are doing. I’m glad to see so much evidence. I was looking at the USOE’s flier at the Forum and thinking that I wanted to do something like this too.

    I’d like to add some more evidence to back your letter.

    Membership in the assessment group SBAC, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, then required states to adopt Common Core Standards (http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Smarter-Balanced-Governance.pdf) – pg. 3

    Nearly at the same time as the above RTTT, the Federal Government announced additional incentives with the Race to the Top for Assessments (RTTTA) Funds requiring states to join with other states and create common assessments and standards to receive the prize.
    EVIDENCE: “To be eligible to receive the award an eligible applicant must include a minimum of 15 states.” (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/rtta2010smarterbalanced.pdf – pg.12)
    EVIDENCE: “…an eligible applicant must submit assurances from each State that the State will adopt a common set of … standards” (pg. 15)

    The Utah State School Board was given a weekend to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which;
    a. Authorized the creation of Common Core Sate Standards
    b. Gave the Federal Government permission to “provide key financial support for this effort in developing a common core of state standards and in moving toward common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund. (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/appendixes/utah.pdf- pg. 90)
    EVIDENCE: Dr. Hales presented the information about developing Common Standards to the Board on May 1, 2009 and “Indicated that they would like us to sign a MOU on Monday [May 4th] if we are going to participate.”
    (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Minutes/2009/090501.aspx – pg. -18068-)

    In the audio of the above meeting they said that ACHEIVE, ACT, and all of these groups were willing to write these standards for FREE but ONLY if we signed the MOU by Monday.

    The Utah State School Board recognized Common Core Standards as National Standards from the beginning as is noted in the State School Board Minutes from April 2009.
    EVIDENCE: “WestEd which is an arm of the US Department of Education has askedfor some that are in that [American Diploma Project ADP] to come together to create some common standards. All is coming to a peak moment with the stimulus package for national common standards.
    On April 17 Board Leadership has approved her [Superintendent Harrington] travel to visit with CCSSO and the expectation is that Utah might sign a Memorandum of Understanding that we might begin the dialogue. It will not commit her [Superintendent Harrington] or the Board but would add Utah to the states that are interested in understanding on how we might develop common standards.
    It was clarified that the national standards would focus around language arts and math.”
    (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Minutes/2009/090403.aspx – pg. -18048-)

    The Utah State School Board hastily and negligently signed our state up for the Common Core Initiative which included SBAC in an effort to receive money from a Federal grant.
    EVIDENCE: “Part of our Race to the Top Application was participation in a Common Assessment Consortium – Associate Superintendent Judy Park reported that states are scrambling to see who they want to align themselves with or partner with. Because the federal government required we declare what consortium you were in we were under an impossible deadline. To make it work we all agreed we would do a Non-binding MOU’s into a Consortium. Utah along with many other states signed on to multiple consortiums.” State School Board Meeting Feb. 2010
    (http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Minutes/2010/02-05-10.aspx – pg. -18257-)

    Three of the consortiums joined together forming SBAC and we later signed a binding MOU
    (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/rtta2010smarterbalanced.pdfpg. ut-16)

  • Alisa says:

    I should note that the MOU became binding when SBAC was awarded the grant for the assessment. In the application for the grant Washington, the fiscal agent acting in our behalf, stated, “I certify on behalf of the consortium that each member of the consortium has agreed to be bound by every statement and assurance in the application and that each Governing State is fully committed to the application and will support its implementation.”

  • Laurie says:

    Hmm. Both MOU links you listed are no longer available. When you click either link, the ED.gov website states:

    404 – Page not found
    Sorry, the page you requested cannot be found.

    Do you have a new link?

  • Alisa says:

    http://www2.ed.gov/policy/eseaflex/ut.pdf – read the requirement on 18 and how we fulfilled that requirement and pg 32. shows how we are fulfilling the requirement of assessments with SBAC – pg 83 shows the state school board vote to adopt CCSS pg 105 shows our Governor and Superintendent signing us onto SBAC

    Although NCLB was bad for our country holding it over the States to comply with their agenda is no better. We need to regain our sovereignty.

  • Alisa says:

    It was brought to my attention that two of my links were broken. It was a typo. Here are the working links:

    The Utah State School Board was given a weekend to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which;
    a. Authorized the creation of Common Core Sate Standards
    b. Gave the Federal Government permission to “provide key financial support for this effort in developing a common core of state standards and in moving toward common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund. (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/phase1-applications/appendixes/utah.pdf – pg. 90)

    Three of the consortiums joined together forming SBAC and we later signed a binding MOU
    (http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/rtta2010smarterbalanced.pdf pg. ut-16)

  • Bruce Armstrong says:

    The final “fact” suggesting that teachers fear speaking out about their concerns about the common core is pure speculation. Suggesting that teachers “on maternity leave” are more likely to oppose the common core is downright insulting and weakens the other arguments. Suggesting that the USDOE must disprove all speculation is not a defensible point.

    There are absolutely conceptual problems about giving up control of curriculum and standards. Pointing out the flaws and half-truths put forward by the USDOE is extremely valuable. Mixing facts and speculation is not helpful. I would speculate that the vast majority of teachers support the UEA and NEA and the direction towards a nationalized curriculum. But that doesn’t make it right. The majority of educators in Alpine School District supported the implementation of Investigations Math. They were wrong then, and could be wrong now.

    A core problem I see in the implementation plan in the common core math is that is does not seem to fit well for advanced students. The goal seems to be focused on mainstreaming a more rigorous curruculum for all students. Mainstreaming is efficient, and the new implementation may even raise the overall student performance somewhat (but not dramatically). As inherent in any mainstream curriculum, it must be tied to the capabilities of all students, and thus is not tailored to the capabilites of advanced students.

    The key word that has been used to gain support for the curriculum is rigor. Who could be against more rigor??? However, I have not seen documentation of what more “rigor” actually means. How does this “rigor” compare to a current advanced math approach (where you can get up to two years of calculus in high school)? I would speculate that the curriculum is more rigorous than current basic math approaches (which just take you through algebra in high schoo) and less rigorous than current advanced math approaches. If so, this simply represents another “raising the floor” approach, which will result in incremental gains in student performance, but not make significant strides in college prep for math and sciences.

    The State Superintendent has voiced the key to improving education in Utah — moving control of curriculum and staffing to local schools. Unfortunately, he will meet strong resistance to this direction at both the state school board and local school board level.

    The state school board makeup, in which candidates are appointed by the governor (yes,really), will not change under the current administration, which seems to be giving defference to the UEA. Local school boards, are thus the most effective change agents in the current environment. Supporting school board members that support local control of staff and curriculum CAN make a difference.

  • Carol G says:

    Thank you for answering some of the questions that the Utah State Board of Education would not answer for me. I was the first to ask a question at Governor Herbert’s Woods Cross rally. I wondered why he offered to give me the name of some one on the State Education Committee so that I could sit down and talk with them but then became ‘too busy’ to actually follow through. He never responded to my e-mail reminding him of his promise.
    I was disappointed to see that no other Republican candidate made the Primary. I will have to research the Democratic option.

  • Dale says:

    When we adopted common core, we made the jump downward to become just that. Common. These standards make no place for anyone to be exceptional. Only common.

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