Email Exchange with Dixie Allen on the State Board

Paul Rolly gives new meaning to the word spin after publishing an article in the SL Tribune today indicating that I got into a “vicious e-mail exchange” with Dixie Allen of the State School Board and that I became “unhinged”. So I decided I should publish the email exchange since it’s obvious that others are floating the exchange around and it now needs to be seen in full light.

Mr. Rolly also makes several false assumptions in his article such as saying this is a right-wing movement. It is not. There are Democrats I have corresponded with such as Lynn Stoddard, a respected retired educator who has been outspoken against Common Core for its inability to individualize education for students.  Lynn just had an op-ed published in the Deseret News which I encourage everyone to read. (link)

It’s humorous as well that Mr. Rolly says we’ve “[requested] volumes of records” when in fact we have had to dig and find documents ourselves on state and federal websites to put together a picture of the federal plan to nationalize education.

Mr. Rolly also says Carol Lear denies saying what I quote her saying below, but that came directly from communication she had in April 2012 acting in her capacity as the legal counsel for the USOE to Utah school teacher Christel Swasey. (link)

In April of this year the State School Board held a public forum to listen to public concerns on Common Core. After announcing how they wanted public input, they worked to stack the deck with UEA, PTA, and school teachers to come speak in favor of the Common Core and not actually let the public air their full concerns.

At this event, they passed out a flier with what they labeled fact and fiction, taking everything that parents such as myself have raised concerned over and calling them fiction, while listing their own explanations as fact. In their “fact” sections they didn’t reference a single document. Over the next couple days, Utah school teacher Christel Swasey wrote a rebuttal to their flier and listed numerous documents in support of the evidence as to why they were wrong. I then posted the rebuttal online and sent this first email below to the State School Board, Superintendent Shumway, and legislators. Here is the full exchange.


Dear State School Board and USOE,

Having seen your full color flier on Common Core this past week, a Utah teacher has prepared a full rebuttal based on documented facts, and challenges you to refute it.





It is so unfortunate that you feel the need to tear down policy, procedure and curriculum rather than build on what can work and move forward.  I want so to build on what is good and improve on that which is not working.  We need to prepare our students to be capable of working in a world economy and striking out against anything that may improve our curriculum because it comes outside Utah only undermines our chances to prepare our students for the world they are inheriting.

Regardless, I will take the credible concerns from teachers, parents and students and work to improve on our curriculum and support systems to the degree we can afford to do with the dollars and structure we have available.

Would love to have you work with us, instead of against us.



Hi Dixie,

So far our concerns have fallen on completely deaf ears. Nobody at the USOE or state board has given any validity to what we’ve brought up.  These concerns have been called lies and misrepresentations, or dismissed as “fiction” in official documents by the State Office and Board.  I wouldn’t exactly call that seeking to work with us, especially considering that our facts are backed up by actual documents while the board flier passed out last Thursday didn’t have a single reference to back up your “facts.” We would love to have our concerns receive serious and honest answers but, so far, that’s not been the case.




Maybe that is because we don’t have time to chase all your conspiracy issues down — we are too busy making sure we have our curriculum in place, assessment that correctly assesses the curriculum, quality instruction in every classroom, evaluations of teachers and principals to insure such quality instruction and support from our legislature to properly fund the system.  We do not have time to chase the conspiracy issues that you and others keep bringing to our table.  We are absolutely convinced that this adoption of core standards is a step in the right direction and regardless of your issues, we will be working hard to amend, improve, add to and assess these standards — rather than wasting time trying to answer all the questions that have no bearing on the quality of education we are providing.

That’s what I wish you were working for.




We know the board is busy and the state office as well, and yet we’re not even asking you to do a ton of research. We’ve done it for you and are just providing it to you. It’s quite stunning that you would call our concerns conspiracy theories when they come right out of documents the state office has filed or direct quotes from officials that are well aware of what’s going on.

For example, is it a conspiracy theory that Larry Shumway went on Rod Arquette’s radio show and announced that he’s concerned how President Obama and Secretary Duncan are taking credit for the Common Core standards and how the DoEd is already pressuring the state in some way associated with the standards?

Is it a conspiracy theory that Retired Appellate Judge Norman Jackson reviewed the documents we have concerns with and said:

“What is the role of the federal government in Common Core standards implementation? According to proponents of the standards, the federal government has had NO role in their implementation. Concerned citizens, including mothers and teachers, have done their homework and conclude the opposite. They asked me to examine the contracts. Based on my examination of three underlying contract documents—I concur with the citizens.”

“In 2010, the State of Utah (Executive Branch) joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. In 2011, the Consortium signed a Cooperative Contract with the U. S. Department of Education. These contracts legally bind Utah to proceed with implementation of the Federal Common Core Standards.” ?

Is it a conspiracy theory when we say the standards are not great and Utah doesn’t currently have the right to modify them and then USOE legal counsel Carol Lear says, “The whole point is to get to a place where there is a ‘common core’ – that would mean the same standards for all the states that adopt it.  If the states had the freedom to ‘disagree’ and ‘change’ them, I guess they would no longer be ‘common’.”  ?

The problem we face is that everyone at the state who claims to value local control is so busy with so many things, they don’t want to hear from concerned citizens who have spent literally hundreds of hours researching what’s going on. It’s easy to dismiss someone else’s concerns when you label them liars and conspiracy theorists, but that doesn’t do anything to build the relationships of cooperation you claim to value.




I guess what I am saying is — We have heard your message and are working hard to be sure we are doing what is appropriate to move forward and support quality education for the students of the state.  You do not need to keep beating us over the head with the same message.



At this point one of the legislators who had been following along emailed this response.


Hello Dixie,

I have been following this ongoing conversation between you and Oak Norton. I am disappointed that a state employee would be as dis-respectful to a private citizen as you have been to Mr. Norton.  I appreciate citizens who contact the state regarding issues that could impact the education of our children.  Could you please help me understand your hostile attitude toward Mr. Norton? His emails present legitimate issues and concerns with common core.  Wouldn’t it be better to respond with rebuttals that qualify and support Utah State Office of Education positions on these issues rather than attacking people as conspiracy theorists.

Rep Mike Noel

P.S.  Retired Judge Norman Jackson is a solid citizen and a good friend


This email was followed by another representative making this comment and Rep. Noel’s final response.



I believe that Dixie should be able to express her opinion as a state employee or as a private citizen. We should be able to get input from anyone and everyone regardless of their employment.  If Dixie wants to share her opinion with us on any issue, I welcome it.

Representative Jim Bird


Hello Jim

I agree that Dixie can share her personal opinions as can any state employee or any member of the USOE or State School Board.  However, I strongly believe that state employees when dealing with their customers (the public) have an obligation to be professional and to answer inquiries from the public in a professional manner.  I am sure you agree that we don’t want state employees treating members of the public, and especially your constituents, in a rude condescending manner.    I think you are stretching it to say Mrs. Allen is responding to Mr. [Norton] from a personal point of view.   Read her statements, she is expressing the opinions of the USOE and from her position as the Vice Chairman of the State School Board.   When she assumes that role, she is no longer afforded the option of being disrespectful to those that may offer a different opinion on what I consider is an important issue.  FYI, I also don’t think Dixie was sharing her opinion with you or me or any of us, I think she was responding to a request for a policy review of the implementation of Common Core to Mr. [Norton].  I was actually interested in seeing what the official response was going to be from USOE and the Board, as opposed to … stop pestering us with your conspiracy theories.  Have a nice day.


[Rep Mike Noel]


That’s the “vicious” and “unhinged” attack in all its gore. Mr. Rolly sure weaves a fancy spin of events to marginalize people. Maybe the SL Tribune headline was properly titled after all. :)

Rolly: Rotten to the Core

9 thoughts on “Email Exchange with Dixie Allen on the State Board”

  1. I have watched with interest the Common Core debate in Utah. I am in California, where we have been implementing “common core” standards for the past 10 years, although just formally adopted this year.

    In the past decade, we have ranked lower and lower on any scale of measurement (other than post secondary) in the nation. I believe we are currently around 46/51 in our public schools. This is a sad decline for a state which once led the nation.

    As a former public school site administrator, I believe this is a direct result of an abdication by local school boards bowing to the dictums of the “state (and now the federal government) knows best.” On the other hand, our plethora of private and parochial schools are excelling.

    Why is that? Perhaps it is because in private and parochial schools, the parents, students and teachers, work together to develop a meaningful program for their individual student body. My youngest son attends a private school which follows the Classical Education model (you know, the way we USED to teach back in the day.) Or perhaps it is because our California public schools are too busy teaching “social engineering” required by the state of California, to spend much meaningful time on foundational education such as math, science and english.

    Welcome to Common Core, Utah. We look forward to consorting with you down here in the bottom 50.

  2. I do not now live in Utah, but I follow your e-mail with some enthusiasm. I am surprised that an elected official would ignore those who trusted her with the responsibility to represent their interests in the education of our children and ignore any concerns of her constituants.
    Perhaps the citizens should re-consider who is representing their interests.

    Richard Taylor Boswell

  3. Oak, you are spot on! Where on earth did these people come from that now run our DOE? I worked with them in another capacity several years ago, under another administration and had their ear and complete cooperation. Dixie’s responses seem to be very immature and based on fried froth engulfed with an overdose of incivility and manners. It seems to me that the USOE is running amuck with an attitude of definace and fly in your face, I don’t give a damn what you say, Mr. Utah public, attitude! I appreciate the hell you are facing with these uncivil servants and support your efforts to expose CCS as the unreliable, dumbed-down education they are.

  4. This is just another example of government run amok. Give someone a little authority and before you know it they want to take over and run the ship aground. They get used to hearing their own voice and like it so much they cannot accept any disagreement. Unions and particularly Teachers Unions want to stuff it down our throats whether we like it or not. I spent many years teaching in Utah and found that in almost all cases I did not want my dues going to them and abstained. The money they collect in dues always goes to elect public officials who are liberal or progressive in their leanings. Look how quickly teachers in Wisconsin bailed out of Unions as quickly as they could. Power corrupts.

  5. Nothing surprises me anymore when it comes down to how our government and government officials seem to want to ignore valid concerns from the regular people on the street. That is why I started doing my radio show and I will be reading this email exchange word for word on tomorrows show. It is sad that every time a legitimate argument is brought forward the people bringing it are considered far right or extremists. That is how our founders were labeled by the King and that is how tyrants will always treat normal folks who are concerned with their future and that of their children. Buy Back America Radio 10-1 on k-talk AM 630 unlike the people in government I welcome difference of opinions.

  6. Quite frankly, I had a series of corrospondences with Dixie regarding including the term Republic in the K-2 curriculum several years ago. I had reviewed the proposed curriculum which defined democracy, but not Republic. I was naive enough to think that defining the term Republic would be a no brainer. But the administrator who compiled the curriculum was nonresponsive. And, my mail with Dixie was very similar to yours in that I felt that my concern was inconsequential and who was I anyway to question the curriculum. Well, I am one who knows how socialism can infest the body politic in a very subtle way. I have studied this all my life. How exactly did Castro overthrow Cuba? Could it have been he conspired with others of like mind? Come on, quit the conspiracy nut mantra. Conspiracy is the historical norm; not the exception. Read Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Gibbons. It is one conspiracy after another. Conspiracy is the norm our founding fathers warned us against and gave us a Constitution designed to guard against it. Read their words on the matter. The knowledge of how socialism flys in the face of our Constitutional Republic is deep and well founded. I was astounded to be minimalized for having made the effort for something noble. Now if you want to talk conspiracy, where is the responsiveness and concern lent to caring parents and educators who take enough intertest to share their input. Quit calling us conspiracy nuts and deal with the evidence. Convince us that we are wrong and we will stand down. Take some time. What do you have to lose?

    When one is caught up in a system, it is hard to see a truth that might seem at face value destructive to the body politic. But, the minds of our children and the future of our nation is not assured. My prayer is that the dialectic can be broken, that pride can be diffused, and that we can clear our heads and listen like we never have before. This starts with school administrators ramping down the emotion and expressing their credentials with more compassion and less stilted defensiveness and open an heart. If you get this wrong—–If you get this wrong—-If you get this wrong and disregard the legitimate concerns of parents, what will be your legacy?

  7. This is not very encouraging at all. How can we get new state leadership at the USOE? Too bad we missed the opportunity (among others) to hold the governor directly accountable for his choices here.

  8. Who appoints board members such as Dixie? Who exactly do we need to elect out of office to get these people replaced? Or was Dixie elected herself?

  9. The whole process of electing a state board member is a disaster where people “run” and get interviewed by a board of 12 appointees. They send 3 candidate names to the governor and the governor picks 2 to appear on the ballot. Then the people choose from those 2 even though 10 may have wanted to run.

    Dixie is on the ballot this November and has someone running against her.

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