Letter to State Education Officials

Alisa Ellis sent this letter to Brenda Hales, other USOE officers, and the State School Board this morning. We wanted to share this with the public and ask that you share this as well. There is a need for a hearing, perhaps in an education committee interim legislative meeting. Questions are not being fully answered by state officials who continue to say we’re wrong but without producing documentation.

Brenda –

I know you and others at the State office are frustrated with our continual fight against Common Core.  This is why I feel it is time we sit down and talk.  As noted after the public forum at Granite district offices by a reporter (loosely quoted) “both sides left further entrenched in their views”.

I have seen the articles and statements put out by you and others at the state office and I have read many, many government documents relating to the Common Core Standards and other educational reform ideals.  From my perspective the documents and the statements  put out by your office do not mesh.

I’ve seen your timeline and also studied the minutes of your meetings.  I’ve studied the minutes from other states and feel that there is a lot of misrepresentation.  I know you feel that I am misinformed but I can assure you I’m more informed than I’ve ever been in my life.

Of course there are some documents and meetings I am not privy too and so I feel it is imperative to sit down with you and Superintendent Shumway and go over all the questions I and other parent’s and citizens have. At a meeting on April 6th with Governor Herbert, he promised to help us set up a meeting with Superintendent Shumway and so I’ve copied his secretary to get that ball rolling if I must.

I would like to see documentation to the statements made by the state office.

I would like to see exactly how you and other’s in UT wrote the Math and ELA standards.  Especially after I listened to the audio of the board meeting where you said they didn’t want us (UT) to send a team to help write the standards because they didn’t want it to turn into a Constitutional convention.  I’d like to see a comparison showing the difference between Common Core State Standards and the Utah Core.  I am very confused as to how UT claims to have written copyrighted standards.  I read in the NCLB waiver that UT cross-walked our standards with Common Core standards.  I’d like you to show me exactly how that was done and like I said show me the differences in the standards.

I’d like to know why members of the board are of the opinion that UT is not bound to any contractual obligations.  We have an approved waiver application to NCLB (contractual obligation) and yet members of the board are of the opinion we can change our standards whenever we want.  Be prepared in the meeting to explain exactly what process this will take when we’ve agreed to the definitions in the document and attached evidence of how we’ll meet the requirements outlined by the Dept. of Ed.

It is not effective to continue this “he said, she said dialogue”.  We must have a meeting.  I recognize it is summer but feel an urgency to sit down and talk with you.

I am available this week.

We do not need to keep down this path of confrontation.  It is not conducive to constructive dialogue.  I have 6 children in the public schools in UT and have no plans of backing down on my questions until I am satisfied that the answers given are backed up by fact and documentation and that this is the best move for our state and our children.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you,

Alisa Ellis

13 Responses to Letter to State Education Officials

  • Ed Barfuss says:

    The concern over the CC Standards is legitimate but the assessments will drive what is actually taught and that concerns me more. If a Muslim wrote a question on the Declaration of Independence it might read something like this. “What are the five pillars of Islam upon which the Declaration of Independence was based?” The student may or may not know anything about the faith of the Founding Fathers but rest assured they will know the five pillars of Islam in order to pass the course. EDB

    • Donna L Abele says:

      Spot on! Our Grandchildren have been encouraged to be empathetic with the Muslums.

      ps How may I get some Brochures?

  • m says:

    Thank you Alisa. I feel the same way you do. How is it these folks who represent us, and avoid answering any of our questions. The other significant question is cost? And, where will the money come from? My understanding is that they don’t know the cost, we would or should never adopt a program/plan, without knowing the cost assoicated with it, and who is going to pay for it. Thanks for all your hard work and efforts, they are so much appreciated as we try our best to get to end of this. Mattie

  • Susie Schnell says:

    I stand behind you Alisa. This should be the start of a public petition for a legislative hearing.

    After all, Common Core was never approved by our representatives in the Utah legislature or brought up in the public forum before it was signed into law and yet it deals with our most precious resource, our children. It never went through the US Congress either and yet the Federal Gov’t is spending billions of tax payer money implementing Common Core. It was pushed only by the Dept of Education, which is an unconstitutional entity run by the questionable Arne Duncan, and Obama’s executive overreach of power, causing the biggest national takeover of education in history. It was approved immediately by our Utah Board of Ed without doing a cost analysis or a trial run anywhere in the nation. Legal documents do not mesh with the USOE’s unproven claims that they continue to publicize.

    A legislative hearing would be a great opportunity for BOTH sides to offer up their facts and come to a conclusion which is best for our Utah children. Thank you for standing up with courage and calling Brenda Hales and the USOE on the carpet for their very poor decision making, lack of documented facts and elitist attitude towards the parents, representatives and citizens of this state.

    • Joyce Ostler says:

      I would love it if they would just spend billions of dollars just to lower class size! That alone would give our classrooms a huge boost!

  • Debbie says:

    Amen to Brenda’s letter & Susie’s comment. I am a grandmother of six, have worked for ASD school district for over 23 years & attended the CC mtg last week & the one in SLC with the state school board. I’m so glad for all the research & hard work you’ve both done on our behalf & I support you 100%!

  • Mary Lynn Peterson says:

    I agree completely with both Sisie and Alisa. They are very articulate in stating my concerns. I want to add my voice and support to Alisa’s effort!

  • Darrell McAdams says:

    The lack of responsiveness to a meeting request is most telling. It is telling you and those of us who are in agreement with you that our representatives are falling short in a vital and foundational manner. It is those elected officials who have lost their way when they say we the people are wrong. They represent us and when we say they are not representing our interests and those of our children they run foul of their entrusted responsibilities. There is no place for hubris at the table for matters as important as these, especially when they refuse to even sit down at the table in the first place.

  • Lynda says:

    Thank you, Alisa, for your hard work and endless investigation into this matter. I am so grateful that you have been working so hard to save our Utah schools. I am a concerned mother and grandmother and hope that we can retain or regain our freedom of the education in our state. Thank you to all the others who are helping so diligently in our behalf. I have been canvasing my neighborhood passing out fliers to inform my neighbors about this issue. I hope more citizens of our state become aware of what has and is happening on this issue. Thanks again.

  • Sheryl Nelson says:

    Thank you Lynda for helping where you can. More of us need to do things like this to help and support those who are leading in this fight. This is a grassroots movement and without more help like yours, it may not have the push from behind that it needs to get there. I hope more of us will do something/anything to make sure we stop this dangerous trend to Federalize education and get back to a true education for our children that will produce not just “good workers”, but entrepreneurs, inventors, and free thinkers! We need to keep and get real teachers in our schools that are allowed to do more than “teach to the test” but to inspire and motivate our youth to be self learners and leaders so that they can lead our nation out of the mess it has gotten itself into. Thanks to all of you great people leading this fight and to all of you “Lynda’s” willing to do something to help and support this immensely important movement to reclaim our public schools!

  • Susan Wilcox says:

    Absolutely 100% behind this meeting. Better make it a large gathering or try to record the proceedings…we are all sitting on the edges of of chairs after the meeting in June at SLCC in Sandy – I went home and retired from my teaching position with Canyons District, and felt SO FREE – ready to help in any way I can.

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