Common Core Public Forum Report

First, I want to thank the State Board for allowing the meeting to occur last night. There are many questions that need addressed that citizens have concerns over and a public forum was a good way to get those aired.

For those of you in attendance or listening in to last night’s public meeting the state board held, you already know that there were two lines for people speaking either in favor of Common Core, or raising concerns about it.

The state PTA, UEA, and apparently some from the USOE, sent out urgent pleas to their members asking them to come speak in favor of the standards. In fact, Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, the president of the UEA (who notably signs her emails “2009 Teacher of the Year”), sent an email to leaders and staff that “the far-right has launched an attack on the Utah Common Core and are misrepresenting the facts surrounding the creation and implementation of the Core Standards. It is critical that we have as many teachers present at this meeting to address the realities related to the Common Core.”

“Realities related to the Common Core” were not presented by those speaking in favor of the core. Among them, no facts concerning the creation and implementation of Common Core were presented at all. It was entirely an effort to praise the USOE and speak about how wonderful these new standards are as if the standards were the sole issue of concern.

Proving that this is not a “far-right” effort, at least one lifetime Democrat stood with those who were against the standards and drew applause after speaking of his concern that we are making all children the same with Common Core and there is no leeway to allow for human variety.

A wide variety of questions were raised by parents speaking against Common Core. Many of these comments referenced actual documents as opposed to the other side where arguments dealt only with subjective experiences in using the Common Core.

In my own remarks, I summarized the math history issue which proves the USOE was never in this to raise math standards in Utah but to attempt to get federal money through the Race to the Top grant.

Shortly after I spoke, Dr. Hugo Rossi from the University of Utah math department publicly contradicted me. I was in the hall when he made the comments and someone told me he contradicted me so I invited him into the hall and asked what he’d taken issue with in my comments. When he told me, I realized he misheard something I said. He thought I was saying the new math standards we got in 2007 were rated a D from the Fordham Foundation. When I told him that was incorrect and I’d said the standards prior to that were a D and the new ones which he helped create got an A-, he apologized and said he would apologize to the audience except that he probably wouldn’t be allowed to speak a second time. It was just a simple mistake on his part but it was unfortunate that it couldn’t be corrected for the group.

It remains to be seen if the State Board or State Office of Education will take the questions and comments seriously and respond to them appropriately, or just ignore them as if this meeting were a simple checklist item to be able to represent that they held a meeting and listened to public input.

Press reports were published last night shortly after the meeting and can be found here:

10 thoughts on “Common Core Public Forum Report”

  1. There were obviously two different meetings going on last night. One group was discussing how great Utah’s new standards are and how bad things were before. As a homeschooler who knows the joy of helping children learn, I’m very happy to hear that our teachers are finally able to teach well. Those who have stopped them from doing so all these years should be held accountable.

    The other group was discussing the Federally backed Common Core to which our State Superintendent of Schools and our Governor have obligated us. This has nothing to do with how well teachers are teaching this year; it has everything to do with how much control the federal government (and the UN) will have over our teachers and our children in the coming years. For decades the Progressives have been working on a seamless web, cradle-to-grave, one-size-fits-all, school-to-work system. To them, we are simply “human resources” to be trained and asigned to produce for the state.

    Thanks, Oak, for putting the history and the current information on this site so more folks can start doing their own homework. Those who spoke in the second group last night had certainly done theirs. The moms who have studied this issue for years and have read the documents were incredible.

    And may I suggest that parents and grandparents consider homeschooling. If you can’t take your children out of government school completely, you may still have to teach them at home in the evenings if you want them to know truth.

  2. I find it ironic that our Governor has been conferencing all week about how to free Utah from unconstitutional ownership/control of our State lands by the Federal Government, when only months before, he cheerfully signed away our State’s sovereignty over our children’s education. Whether or not the standards are good, the principle of self-government and local control is at issue. Freedoms we sign away are very difficult to regain.

    If we still had our freedom to direct education, Utah could focus on the one issue that all parties agree on: the highest indicator of a child’s success in school is parental involvement. Rather than the government trying to solve this problem from the top down with money and regulation, we could work to increase parental involvement from bottom up. Requiring MORE parental involvement, not LESS would be of lasting value to all of our children. Mentor the parents, model how they can help their kids, require them to be involved. This is a solution that hasn’t yet been tried, even though research supports it.

    1. Sorry, but I disagree. First of all, “mentoring” or “requiring” certain actions by parents is EXACTLY part of the problem. Coming into our homes and telling us what our requirements are as parents is not the governments or anyone else’s business. Secondly, that program already exists and it’s called “No child left behind”. Surprise! A government based program. Each school year teachers send home “assignments” for the students to have their parents sign. (The parents signature is actually THE assignment.) Then they receive a grade based on whether the parent signs the paper or not! Each year we have to send the papers back and tell the teacher they have no business giving my child a grade based on MY performance. It’s absolutely ridiculous and frustrating. Especially when the kid is otherwise getting straight A’s. I don’t like or want to be lumped into one big category, assuming we’re all dead beat parents and we all need to be told what to do. That’s exactly what and why we’re fighting against common core.

  3. I am a grandmother and a former teacher. Several of my grandchildren have been and are students here in Utah. My husband was a teacher for 40 years and I was a teacher for nearly 30 years. We have taught in Oregon, Colorado, and Idaho, as well as in the American International School in Dhaka, Bangladesh for 7 years.

    Having taught in a variety of States and overseas, we have a fairly broad perspective of curriculum and the policies that drive that curriculum. We have both written curriculum and understand that demanding process. We have been in schools that used AP, IB, and Concurrent Credit. The only one that did not drive the curriculum was Concurrent Credit. Common Core will also drive the curriculum. From what I heard at the meeting last night, it sounds like the Common Core curriculum is very good, but that is the only thing I heard from the proponents side. I have spent a lot of time going through the paper trail and documents showing the history of this program. I am convinced that the origins from our State and probably most of the other States who began looking at common curriculum across States had very good intentions. My concern is much like what you heard last night. Whether you want to believe it or not, this is already becoming a program that will and is becoming driven by organizations and people who are determined to take over the education of our children.

    There is a much broader danger here that I believe is being overlooked. But as I listened to the comments and saw the reaction of those on the Board and many in the audience, I realized that those who oppose this program really are not going to be listened to. I am sorry that this has begun the way it has, because I feel that there are much better ways to deal with raising the standards by looking at and adopting successful curriculum rather than becoming part of a system that others will use to control what will be taught in our schools.

    Money is the root of all of this. Will we or will we not take federal dollars to cover some of the costs of this program. We have opted for those dollars and thus we are now obligated to follow what the money will dictate. It all sounds so nice, especially when we are continually ensured that we will still have our autonomy. Dr. Krauthhammer made a very telling comment, “Don’t listen to what they are saying, look at what they are doing.” Look at what these people who control the money are doing in other areas. Who are they working with and what are their goals. I know that you feel that this is some kind of “conspiracy” theory, but are you really willing to look at their track record and who they are aligned with? You were presented with written facts at the meeting last night, and I do not believe those who are dedicated to this program are even willing to look at this information with an open mind. If we blindly push ahead without looking at the fine print, we will learn to our great loss, what control we have lost.

    My concern last night was that those who opposed Common Core and showed documentation were often dismissed, while those who were for Common Core used emotion to persuade others to accept it. I have no doubt that this is a good program, if those who testified last night were honest in their assessment. I am grateful for high standards for students. I am substitute teaching in a private school in American Fork and I find that their standards are good. I have only seen one program in a public school and was a little concerned about the lower standards there. I am not against high standards. I am only concerned about how we implement them in our School systems.

  4. Where in the Constitution does is say that the Federal Government has control over our children’s education? I understand that in law school the Constitution is not taught anymore, just precedents. Our government officials break their oath constantly because they do not understand or do not know our Constitution. Read THomas Jefferson’s letter to Joseph Cabell about education and that is how our educational system should be run. The arguments go on and on but the point is this is unconstitutional!

  5. Is there anyway to reverse what has already been done? I went to a meeting at our local elementary school to review some math books- 2 choices? I didn’t like either. One required way too much writing (with some of the examples of what they wanted to be written being ridiculous) and the other had absolutely no examples of the problems. THey wanted the children to decide how the problem should be solved and then explain why their interpretation and answer were reasonable. Here is an example of the written response that was wanted on a math question.

    Please explain what number comes next in the sequence? (these are not exact words)
    11.1 , 11.2, 11.3, 11.4, __?

    What they wanted:

    I notice that the first number in all the numbers is 1, therefore I will write the number 1


    Then I notice that the second number in all of them is 1, therefore I will write 1 as the second number


    Then I notice that the number after the decimal goes up by one in each number so I will write the next number in the sequence which as 5


    The next number in the sequence is 11.5

    I asked my 5th grader who would have this question next year if this is the math book.

    His answer:

    The numbers go up by .1 each time so the next number in the sequence will be .1 higher than the last number in the sequence so the answer is 11.5.

    PLEASE tell me that he won’t be docked for this answer. He would HATE it if he had to write each step like that down. His answer shows he understands. Honestly would any kid write the answer that they wanted?

    as for the book with no examples at all…….is there a parent book or something online that we could refer to that goes along with the book? I look at the example almost EVERY time I help him with his math. I would not like it- seems like a lot of frustration for kids and parents.

    anyway- my two cents with the information I have seen thus far from the core curriculum as far as math for 6th graders is concerned.

    a concerned mom, Brooke

  6. It has been said, “As soon as you feel yourself against me you have ceased to understand my position and consequently my arguments! You have to be the victim of the same passion!” One of the issues abundantly apparent last night was the emotion of the dialectic. For the most part teachers sat on one side of the room and parents on the other. What an odd occurance. Two groups of people who should be joined in the common goal of educating children entrenched against each other. Why? Did this event speak more to the lack of ability of the educational establishment not hearing or considering the issues of a sincere disconnect parents have with the federal encroachments tagging along with CC? Correct me if I am wrong, but education is one of the last bastions of State sovereignty left to the individual states. To label caring parents as “far right’ for raising legitimate issues regarding the funding of CC, federal encroachments, curriculum content sources, etc is a simple tactic of name calling to marginalize the worthiness of concerns as well as the people seeking for resolution within themselves and asking for consideration from the educational establishment. Parents should not be treated this way, nor dismissed so readily. Those educators who participate in such tactics should reevaluate their hearts and motivation. Is it not true that both the Smarter Balance and PARCC evaluation tools are federally funded? Is this not an issue on the table for the State School Board. And if federal dollars are not attained, what is the cost to the tax payer for this element of CC? Are these “right wing” concerns, or fiscally responsible questions? I am of the opinion that this issue is easily resolved; but only if the emotion of the dialectic is breached and adult people begin to put their pride and position aside if only to hear the hearts of each side. Using CC-type analytical thinking techniques, the State School Board should be able to list the concerns, evaluate their true worthiness, and make this a win/win situation. Not one parent that I heard was opposed to raising standards and using those parts of CC that are of value. With CC in the public domain, it is not a decision to dump or not dump the entire package. Let us not allow ourselves to ridicule and fall into a devisive debate where parents and teachers are at odds with each other. Finally, in my studies of the Constitution, I read the Federalist Papers. But, I did not stop there. I then read the Anti-Federalist Papers. Then I learned that, had it not been for the Anti-Federalists, we would not have had a Bill of Rights. Both sides of this issue need to be addressed with caring reason. And let us not leave God out of this equation. If we cannot bring ourselves together, let us implore His intervention to assist us in this endevour. Let us hear each others passion in an atmosphere of mutual respect and love. Otherwise………………..who are we really!

    1. Thank you!!! I agree, we need more concerned parents like you, I feel like I am being made the bad guy if Im concerned about the cost to us Tax Payers or if I feel like we are giving away our Birth right for money from a government that has no money to give us! It really is Insane, I feel we have some of the best teachers and educators why not raise our own standards and do what we want in our state? Why limit ourselves? Our children deserve more!

  7. I wish to acknowledge in this way that I did indeed misunderstand Oak’s historical review, and for this I apologize once again. I said that the 2007 Utah standards received an A- from the Fordham foundation, as do the CCSS, and that is indeed what Oak said. However, I do not want to lose the point I made later. The CCSS writing group began their work by reviewing all state standards and deciding on a small set on which to base their work, which they construed as that of highlighting a small set of basic mathematical concepts that thread their way through the entire K12 curriculum. This is a significant value-added, and gives the CCSS a conceptual strength that was not in the Utah standards, and allows the teacher, once this structure is grasped, to be free of much content transmission to concentrate on the work of instruction. The teachers in this State are up for this task, as demonstrated by Ms. Baker’s description of her work with teachers.
    The Utah 2007 Core was one of those selected by the CCSS committee to serve as a background for their work. So, we should rightly be proud of the role Utah has played in the CCSS and embrace the additional value of the CCSS in its conceptual structure and – in addition – the standards of practice.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting Dr. Rossi. As we discussed in the hall outside the meeting, this isn’t so much about the standards themselves as about all the baggage (strings) they come with. There are positives in the CC standards, though there is still quite a bit of room for improving them. I don’t believe Utah has the ability to do that under present circumstances. I would direct you to this page for more on that topic:

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