Common Core an assault on liberties

Ed: This op-ed by Christel Swasey was published in the Deseret News ( on 6/13/13.


Utah state GOP delegates officially disapproved Common Core when they passed the anti-common core resolution this year by a 65 percent vote.

Was that not enough for our state school board and governor?

Gov. Gary Herbert continues to promote the Common Core-dependent Prosperity 2020 initiative. And the state school board continues to label teachers and others who long to reclaim local control and who want legitimate, non-experimental education standards, “the misinformed.”

The fact is, we are not misinformed; we know what Common Core is, and we reject it.

The board won’t even respond to requests for specifics about what we’re so misinformed about.

Now, despite the Utah anti-common core resolution passing; despite the examples of Michigan, Indiana and other states passing time-out bills against Common Core implementation; despite Obama’s recent announcement that he plans to tax Americans to pay for Common Core technologies in his ConnectEd Initiative; still, Utah’s school board has not softened its rigorous-praise-of-Common-Core talking points and is moving it forward as if nothing is wrong.

In fact, the board markets Common Core as being beyond debate; it’s so minimalistic, so consensually adopted, so protective of privacy rights and so academically legitimate (none of which is true) that it is too big to fail and is beyond any future need for amendments (which is indeed fortunate for them, since there is no Common Core amendment process).

Something is truly amiss when experienced Utah teachers with credentials, like me, are perpetually rejected for requests to the state school board to discuss the pros and cons of Common Core. The board doesn’t want a two-sided discussion.

The board is silent on these simple questions:

Where is a shred of evidence to support the claim that Common Core improves education?

Where are any studies showing that the reduction of literary study improves college readiness?

Where is some evidence that slowing the age at which students learn math algorithms improves college readiness?

Where is any amendment process for Utah’s math and English standards, under the copyrighted Common Core?

How can one opt out of the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) tracking and the Common Core tests?

Where is the legal — constitutional — authority for people outside our state to set our local standards and to create and monitor our tests?

Why does Utah stand by while Obama announces that he will redesign schools and tax all Americans to pay for it, without Utah putting up a fight?

Why is there a spiral of silence culture now, that demands everyone pretend to agree; where is freedom of expression and freedom of speech in the common agenda, now that teachers and principals don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs?

How on earth can anyone call Common Core “state-led” when unelected boards that operate behind closed doors, that are not accountable to the public, developed and copyrighted the standards, bypassing voters and the vast majority of teachers and legislators?

Where is the line-item cost analysis of taxpayers’ money being spent on Common Core technologies, teacher training and texts?

When will state leadership address Common Core’s specific damages with the people who elected these leaders to serve us, rather than bowing to every federal whim?

Will the board and governor ever stand up to the Department of Education’s tsunami of assaults on liberties?

Will they continue to fight against local teachers and citizens who rightfully demand local liberty and who rightfully ask for proven, non-experimental, amendable standards — following the example set by the national and world-leading education system in Massachusetts, prior to Common Core?


5 thoughts on “Common Core an assault on liberties”

  1. A resounding AMEN and THANK YOU to Christel for saying what we’ve (majority of Utah’s parents, grandparents, and educators) been feeling for a long, long time. When are Herbert and the USOE going to wake up and also pass a “time-out” bill or better yet, drop, out-right, this horrible infringement on our Constitutional rights? When is Herbert up for re-election? Should USOE positions be decided by public election?

  2. Thank you, Christel, Oak, and all UACC supporters for your research, questioning, and speaking out. It is difficult to do so. I am a teacher who has spoken out some, but–I am ashamed to say–I am a bit fearful of saying too much. We have been told that the common core is inevitable and that we just have to do it. We were also told in a district meeting a year or so ago to go out and do our “PR work” so that people would accept what we are doing.

    When the common core was being forced on us–before we had even read the standards–I thought that the very manner of it’s implementation meant it was bad. As I became acquainted with the eighth grade standards and then the ninth grade standards it became clear to me that they were inflexible and inferior to what we had before. Before the common core I would commonly have students tell me that math was their favorite class and that they loved math. Now I hear it occasionally, but with less enthusiasm and frequency. I hear more negative comments than I used to.

    I would very much like it if our state and local leaders would stand up for state and local control. I think they are afraid of loosing the No Child Left Behind waivers. My understanding is that without those waivers virtually all our schools will be labeled as failing by 2014. There must be tremendous pressures on our USOE. I know and like some of them, and believe they are doing their best. It is time to tell the feds that we can do more for our children without their money and interference than we can do with their money and interference. (It’s time they quit taxing like tyrants and spending like drunken sailors…but I digress.)

    It requires courage to stand up and do what is right, especially in cases where money and reputation are at stake. Here are some questions that I believe are relevant. Would we rather have schools that are artificially labelled as deficient, or have schools that really are deficient? Does appearance trump reality? Have our elected leaders studied this sufficiently to make sure it isn’t just the charade it appears to be?

    I hope they will.

    Respectfully Submitted,
    Malin Williams

  3. Oak! Does the leadership of UACC have any sense of where we stand in regards to our fight/oppostion ( to common core) with the Gov and/or the USOE. If they’re not talking to us, what should be our course of action to get some kind of response?

  4. Amen to this all!

    I am becoming more and more discouraged by a culture of blindness we have. While I am enthusiastically grateful for those who fight against this and for the legislators who are defending our rights by seeking to stop this, I am SOOO worn out by my fellow citizens not knowing a THING about what is going on and preferring it that way! I try to talk to so many fellow moms about this and they clam up and give me some cognitive dissonance line about how it will all be fine and look at me from that point forward as a conspiratorial trouble maker who thrives on negative political campaigning. I am tired! I feel like I am in such a minority and what is the point of caring anymore when there are so many around me who don’t care themselves and are self-proclaimed political-athiests. They want the world to be rosy and to not have to stand up actively for anything and just figure that however things work out is how they were meant to work out and they haven’t really been proven wrong on that theory yet because of every type of bailout imaginable happening to our society and economy without repercussions that have hit home with them…yet! Now we are on to an education bailout of sorts where everyone will be marginalized in favor of a common robot that excels in the ability to be tested. We are perpetuating this educational overhall with our blind willingness to let politics happen around us and to us while taking a very absent stance on our abilities to have an impact on what happens.

    Thanks for all that you all do on here. It really is so refreshing to see. My oldest starts Kindergarten this year but my husband and I have talked and he will not go any further than that. I will spend the year preparing to homeschool thereafter and plan to home teach all of our children going forward. I look at our baby and other sons and the last thing I want for any of them is to be subjected to marginalized, remedial learning and never to reach their full and unique potentials – I am so on board with widening the achievement gap and letting them reach as high as they want to without government intrusion or retarding their educational growth to keep them at a manageable (common) level with everyone else. I want control over what and how my children learn and would like for them to be able to pursue their unique interests and skillset uninhibited by anything ‘Common’!

    Again, thanks for all that you do!!

  5. So well put, Elisabeth! I am at the tail end of raising six children, all of who have been homes chooled at one time or another. My oldest two are adults now, and I was frustrated with the system since they were in kindergarten, but it’s much worse now. I have educated my youngest three at home for the past three years and loved it. My youngest is eight years old. I sent him to kindergarten, then have educated him at home for the past two years. I have to say that kindergarten was just a wasted year. He would have learned more by osmosis if he just stayed home. I went in weekly to help in the class room, and was appalled by the behavior of many of the other students. It seemed the teacher was really just a glorified baby sitter. I can’t say kindergarten did my son any good, and if I had to do it over again, would not have sent him. Thank you for sharing your passionate remarks. I was beginning to think I was alone in my views about these things!

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