A Reply to Superintendent Menlove

The State Superintendent recently responded to someone who had concerns about Common Core with this email:


Mrs. ______,

I understand you and others do not like Common Core.

Can you help me understand what you think our standards should be.  Should we have standards?  Do you think our standards should align with tests our children will take to determine college entrance and scholarship opportunities?  Do you think our standards should align with what the Utah System of Higher Education has determined our student need to be successful in college in Utah?   Which specific standards would you eliminate or change?  What standards are missing and need to be added?

I invite you and others concerned with Common Core to be part of the solution.

Martell Menlove


I’d like to respond to the Superintendent line by line to make sure I address each of these points.

Dr. Menlove,

>I understand you and others do not like Common Core.

Good start establishing common ground.

>Can you help me understand what you think our standards should be.

Certainly. They should be strong standards on par with what the best states in the country were using before Common Core. In fact, our Utah 2007 math standards were better than Common Core so I’d suggest we return to those or else consider using CA’s, MA’s, or IN’s pre-Common Core math standards which have been recognized as exceeding Common Core. Our Utah ELA standards weren’t great according to the Fordham Foundation, but Massachusetts had some great standards that Sandra Stotsky helped create. Did you know she volunteered to come to Utah for free and help us write the best standards in the country with the help and input of Utah teachers? That’s what I’d suggest we do for ELA. This combo would give Utah children a real advantage and we would actually have a Utah core that wasn’t a relabeling of Common Core.

>Should we have standards?

Is this meant to be thought-provoking or just an expression of frustration that a growing segment of the public is feeling disenfranchised and complaining to our public education leaders? Standards are important. Standardizing all students on the same standards at the same pace is destructive. If you’d like more information on this, please watch Sir Ken Robinson’s just released TED video on the problems of No Child Left Behind.

>Do you think our standards should align with tests our children will take to determine college entrance and scholarship opportunities?

What was wrong with the ACT, SAT and AP exams before they were being aligned(ACT, SAT and AP) to Common Core? Nobody complained about them not being aligned to our standards. Why start now? It just becomes a graduation test instead of a test of broader knowledge. If a student graduates from high school and gets A’s on their Common Core aligned computer adaptive tests, why do we even need the ACT, SAT, and AP exams? They’d be redundant and make students sit through the same exam content questions.

>Do you think our standards should align with what the Utah System of Higher Education has determined our student need to be successful in college in Utah?

To my knowledge, the USHE didn’t participate in the creation of Common Core. However, USHE professors did participate in the creation of our 2007 math standards. Why are you rejecting the work they did on the 2007 math standards in favor of what out-of-state special interests created in order to profit their companies?

>Which specific standards would you eliminate or change?

I’m hoping you can see the wisdom of not picking flecks of manure from chocolate chip cookies. The batch is tainted and it’s time for a batch made from fresh ingredients.

>What standards are missing and need to be added?

Dr. Menlove, what standards were missing in our 2007 math standards that needed to be added? Perhaps it was the ones the external reviewer Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu from Berkeley said needed to be modified that the USOE refused to fix to give us A rated standards. Still, we wound up with A- rated standards that the Fordham Foundation said are actually clearer than Common Core. So why did we need to change? Oh yeah, the feds offered us money if we’d switch and then didn’t give us any money when we complied. I guess that’s what happens when you gamble with the dealer…

>I invite you and others concerned with Common Core to be part of the solution.

We’ve actually given you a solution. Why do you resist higher standards for Utah children? Aren’t our children deserving of the very best education? With the rest of the country following mediocre standards, why do you not want Utah children to have the advantage of a better education? Why do you not listen to your constituents solutions? Wasn’t the state board who appointed you, also elected as watchdogs for the public? Why don’t they listen to the public? With 65.5% of GOP state delegates getting informed about Common Core and rejecting it, what is your plan to listen to the people and act on their solutions? Why is your solution for the public to just accept whatever you and the USOE decide is best for our children? That’s not an acceptable solution from a public servant.

Oak Norton


19 thoughts on “A Reply to Superintendent Menlove”

  1. Excellent response, Oak. Thanks for taking the time to clearly answer Dr. Menlove’s questions. I hope he takes them to heart and acts like a leader of excellence instead of a follower of mediocrity.

  2. Thanks for replying with sources too. I appreciate being able to look beyond points of view and see where the facts line up. I hope the entire USOE body will listen and do something about this issue. Thanks for all of your hard work and study to help the rest of us understand this complex issue.

  3. Powerful reply. I suspect there will be no response to your response. Don’t confuse them with facts. EDB

  4. If that’s a directly quoted email, I’m frankly not impressed. If the state superintendent can’t even proofread his email before sending it, how does he expect us to trust his educational expertise in other areas?

  5. I wouldn’t give too much credence to the 65.5 % delegate vote at the convention. It is not truly representative of the general population in Utah. Why else would Utah’s own Republican Resolutions Committee give an unfavorable recommendation to the anti-common core resolution ?

    The current Republican caucus and convention methods have a way of skewing the votes cast and opinion formed at such gatherings. Hence the effort by prominent Utah Republicans to change the whole caucus initiative process. Here is a recent article from Deseret News.


    1. These days, the establishment Republican Party interests are rarely entirely coincident with those of the people. Without the caucus system, the Party leaders would always appoint candidates that reflect the establishment party line, and the people would be locked out from vetting and promoting other choices to party candidates. Incumbents would remain in office, virtually for life.

      With the caucus system, the people have a voice in selecting candidates of their choice; otherwise, the people would only have the right to vote for the parties’ choice of candidates. There are many who would like to take control of our political system away from the people. Those who fit in this category are fighting against our constitutional freedoms.

      In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court said that political speech is the type of speech most highly protected by the Constitution, that there cannot be too much free speech, and that limiting free political speech is not permissible. Abolishing the caucus system would be limiting free political speech in favor of allowing a few influential party people to choose our candidates.

      Do not allow them to take away the caucus system which would allow a few power-hungry people to interfere with the people’s choices. If you feel that some voices are not heard in the caucus system, the solution is to get those people out to the precinct meetings allowing more people to exercise their political rights, not to abolish the caucus and make it so virtually none of the people can exercise those rights.

      Personally, I have just about had it with giving up natural rights–I’ve decided I will not give another inch. Whether it’s fighting Common Core/DOE, the IRS, abolishment of the caucus system, unconstitutional search and seizure, gun control, the Fed, growing government spending and deficits, higher taxes, redistribution of wealth, crony capitalism, central planning of anything, promotion of illegal immigration, unrelenting government attempts to deceive and manipulate the people and complicity of the press in this, ObamaCare, the EPA, OSHA, NLRB, DHS, BATFE, FBI, CIA, DOJ or other governmental “acronyms of abuse”: I’ll do all in my power to preserve our natural rights against any further erosion.

      One of the methods prominent visionaries (i.e. Ghandi, MLK) have proven in practice successful in fighting for natural rights is non-violent, civil disobedience. I intend to apply this to the fight and I encourage others to do the same, as was said by the immortal Beck: “I Will Not Comply”.

      1. You are right. It would be great if they could increase the general participation at the caucus and convention level but the disappointing reality right now is that the present delegate make-up does not represent the average republican or the average utahn.
        A convention delegate wrote a letter to a prominent newspaper published today that the delegate group at last saturday’s convention did not truly represent Utah. The vast majority of the delegates were male and of those, a disproportionately large number were over the age of 65 that do not have school age kids.

        1. Thank you for your thoughtful reply. Our Republic wasn’t designed such so our elected bodies would be adjusted to be demographically equal to the population demographic. We have not yet had a woman president or vice president, The Senate has historically been a virtual old white men’s club. The House has more diversity but still the majority are white males.

          What our government was designed to do was to enable each adult the right to have and the responsibility to exercise that voice and vote in electing and advising our leaders. As American citizens, we all have the duty to learn about the issues, evaluate the candidates, discuss our views and beliefs with others and vote for the candidates of our choice. In Utah, each adult can speak up in her precinct, try to influence the vote, run for precinct leader or delegate, and vote for the candidates of her choice.

          Anyone that can’t be bothered with becoming informed about current events and local and national issues or even to vote (and the uninformed probably shouldn’t vote even though they have the right to do so) is voluntarily surrendering her right to participate in the political process.

          Also, I would not be so quick to dismiss all young people as disengaged; we have a large number of vigorous conservative activists in the College Republicans and my observation is that there are a large body of youth that are awakening to their duty as Americans and are hungry for the truth, for real freedom and for true principles like those in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I have great faith in the youth.

          I would also not dismiss us older folk. We have lived recent history and have learned much through living life for some time. While our children may be grown and not in schools, we do have grandchildren and we care a great deal about their well-being, their opportunities, their prospects for the future and the world that we’ll leave to them.

  6. Frankly Alpine School District had better standards back in the 80’s with the old ACE than Utah had or than Common Core is. We would be better off going back to locally created standards. They are better supported than nationally created ones – more likely to be taught without coercion or cheating, and the process of creating them makes better teachers and parents!

  7. Dr. Menlove’s letter is proof to me that he has not listened to a word the opposition has said. If he had truly been open minded and willing to listen to our point of view, he would not of been asking these easily answered questions. However Mr. Norton, your response bring great clarity to his questions! I hope he will take the time to read your response and take it to heart! Thanks!

  8. As I understand it, improprieties have occurred involving the USOE and USOE’s attempts to shove Common Core down the throat of Utahns against the better interests of our children. Then Dr. David Wright wrote USOE Superintendent Menlove asking questions of him regarding the above-stated improprieties. UACC members then wrote Dr. Menlove requesting that he answer Dr. Wright’s questions.

    In response to UACC members’ emails, Dr. Menlove asked a number of questions of UACC as to why some people are opposed to Common Core. Then Oak wrote his response to Dr. Menlove’s questions. All well and good, but what’s missing in this picture? Dr. Menlove failed to answer Dr. Wright’s questions or address or even acknowledge the claims of USOE improprieties/corruption.

    Politics 101: Don’t like the question? Change the subject by asking questions of your own. Don’t let this snake oil salesman off the hook–make him answer the questions, investigate the corruption, and publically report what’s going on in our star chamber USOE. Better yet, let’s have an independent prosecutor investigate the entire process, all the connections & conflicts of interest, and all involved in bringing Common Core to Utah.

    1. Bruce, not quite. Yes the USOE has tried to shove Common Core down our throats, but the Dr. Wright issue is separate and relates to a math grant from last year. We asked people to write Dr. Menlove and ask him to answer Dr. Wright’s questions which point to serious unethical behavior from some USOE employees. One or more of the people writing Dr. Menlove mentioned concerns about Common Core and this was Dr. Menlove’s response which was forwarded to me. We will continue to press for Dr. Wright’s questions to be answered. I emailed out the State School Board President’s response to someone the other day which was similar in deflecting the wrongdoing by saying the A.G. had investigated and found nothing wrong. Some behaviors are immoral and unethical but aren’t deemed criminal according to law. This is where it appears the situation lies. You can see the details about Dr. Wright’s concerns here.

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