Governor Herbert's Outrageous Claim

Governor Herbert’s Outrageous Claim

Governor Herbert's Outrageous ClaimIt’s an election year and I think that’s about all the explanation we need to understand a recent political flier from Governor Herbert. The Governor has to be a little worried about his political race this year. His challenger strongly opposes Common Core and its associated agenda, and Governor Herbert has been one of the strongest advocates for Common Core in the country. It therefore takes special nerve to put out a large color mailer where the very first claim on it is:

Gov Herbert common core

Lets look at some of Governor Herbert’s past love affair with Common Core.

1) In November 2010, Governor Herbert published an article entitled “Governor’s Education Excellence Commission to Consider Action Items for Strategic Plan.” In this document he stated “Our next step is to put the meat on the bones of our plan and outline the clear steps that will allow us to reach our goal.”  Items three and four of his eight point plan was:

“3) Implementing the Common Core Standards.

4. Expanding computer-adaptive, formative assessments based on the Common Core and implementing college- and career- ready assessments such as the ACT cadre of tests.”

2) In February 2014, Governor Herbert was asked by The Blaze about Common Core and stated:

“Common Core was designed initially by the states,” Herbert told TheBlaze. “It’s really just a common goal. It predates my time. Governors were upset about the progress of education. We’re falling behind. So states simply said, ‘Why don’t we have a common goal on language arts and math, and whoever you are in this country, when it comes to getting a high school diploma, you have some kind of minimal proficiency?’ That aspect of it was good.”

“We certainly don’t want to have the government overreaching and dictating to the states, certainly not to Utah, about our methodology, how we’re going to do it, what our textbooks are, what our testing is going to be,” Herbert said.

“In fact in Utah, we’ve passed a law to say that can’t happen. We have a law that says if any of this federal overreach somehow gets into our system, we are mandated to get out of it. I think our education, our state school board, our education leaders, we’ve always controlled our own curriculum, we’ve always controlled our own textbooks and testing. We’ll continue to do that in Utah.”

Once you became governor, it was YOUR pen that sealed the deal by signing us onto the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium which agreed to fully implement Common Core and other federal education agenda items. YOUR signature Governor that “[certified] that as a Governing State [we are] fully committed to the application and will support its implementation.”


Then in 2011, YOU signed the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application which obligated Utah’s support for four major federal reforms. This is the heart of Common Core. It’s never been just about standards although you and the state office of education have tried to make it that. It’s a much wider net.

State Fiscal Stabilization Fund Application

The four reforms you signed us onto in this document include redistribution of teachers, setting up massive database tracking on students, adopting Common Core standards and assessments, and putting “turnaround” experts in schools so in time, every school will be reshaped by “experts” instead of teachers and parents.

Governor Herbert also signed the Race to the Top Application Assurances for both phase 1 and 2, promising to implement the four federal reforms listed above. Phase 2 was just to tweak our application and increase our chances at getting money from this federal lottery. RTTT phase 1 RTTT phase 2

Frankly, I’m surprised anyone believes Common Core was state led anymore. Except for the constant parroting of that lie by the education establishment and those who fail to actually do their homework, Common Core would have died already.

Here’s just a couple of pieces of the pie.  David Coleman was one of the chief architects of Common Core itself. In 2008, he helped convince Bill Gates to bankroll this effort, and then began the major effort to convince the governors that they should sign on. Listen to David say it himself, and how Common Core was created by a few people in a room on a napkin.

Our own Utah State Office of Education didn’t even know who was on the drafting committee of the original standards when they were being drafted back in 2009-10!

The standards weren’t state-led, they were Gates-led. Bill Gates’ Foundation gave tens of millions of dollars to the NGA and CCSSO to get them to come together on common standards and then a secretive committee wrote the standards. Why was Bill interested in this? He’s openly stated it. Big business opportunities exist when you standardize. It was never about standards. It always included assessments, and yes, curriculum would be forthcoming as Bill Gates stated in 2009, otherwise we would never know if the standards would work.

Then this would unleash huge market forces (translation: big players like Pearson, McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin, would demolish and put the small players out of business leaving them to rake in billions of dollars as those with monopoly power always do). Watch Bill state it himself back in 2009. Local control of curriculum? Not so much when the now small group of publishers align their texts to the standards and assessments (and now the college entrance exams, CLEP, AP, and GED).

Finally, even the feds have now admitted they coerced the states into adoption.

3) On April 6, 2014, Governor Herbert appeared on Red Meat Radio and made this statement:

“Now I recognize that there’s a lot of misunderstanding out there, and some of that’s in part because people think we’re involved in the Common Core, and the difference between that and the Utah core, and we think there’s some kind of a federal overreach here, and that’s an exaggeration.”

So in a classic move under pressure, the Governor sought to play a name game. Lets not call it Common Core anymore because that’s a hot potato that the state superintendent already admitted included federal pressure… Lets call it Utah Core and pretend they’re different.

Just a few months earlier in February 2014, I had an email exchange with State Superintendent Martell Menlove. This was his response to this name game. (underlining mine)

Mr. Norton,

The Utah State Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards as Utah Core Standards in Math and English/Language Arts.  I do not believe I have said anything contrary to this.  If I have, I apologize.

Thanks for seeking this clarification.

As noted previously, I continue to be willing to meet with you at your convenience to hear your concerns.


Martell Menlove

Utah adopted the national Common Core standards two days after they were made public, exactly as written.

4) Now to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which Governor Herbert crows about how wonderful it is for releasing us from the restrictive No Child Left Behind. This is the bill that Obama’s Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:

“I’m stunned. at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it…

…if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in the law are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards [i.e.,Common Core], not turning a blind eye when things are bad. For the first time in our nation’s history, that’s the letter of the law.”

He also said:

“We were intentionally quiet on the bill — they asked us specifically not to praise it — and to let it get through,” he explained. “And so we went into radio silence and then talked about it after the fact…. Our goal was to get this bill passed — intentionally silent on the many, many good aspects of the bill…. We were very strategically quiet on good stuff.”…

So Arne Duncan and the Obama administration got everything they ever wanted, by staying quiet as Republicans played themselves into their hands. Deft Arne. This should actually be of great concern to people since Arne also wants to “phase out the authority of the states,” in dealing with the disadvantaged, and is a big fan of increasing the length of the school day and week.

In fact, after ESSA passed, the Whitehouse released a document stating: “Not only does ESSA cement progress already made, it embraces much of the vision the Administration has outlined for education policy since 2009.”

ESSA’s text was released just a couple days before the vote, naturally. You wouldn’t want people reading something that size before voting on it. After a massive effort by Alyson Williams and a few dozen parents to dissect it in a day, they got that information to our congressional delegation and all four House members and Senator Mike Lee voted against this bill. Yet Governor Herbert said this about ESSA:

“This is a significant step in the right direction in our work to ensure state control of education policy. This bill reinforces that accountability and responsibility for K-12 education rests with the states. It is a clear example of cooperative federalism, which is a core tenant of this association. It emphasizes that states and localities have the freedom to provide students the world-class education they deserve.”

So what is this significant step in the right direction the governor sees?

Click on this link to go to a text comparison of some federal requirements under NCLB and ESSA. They are essentially the same.

We got rid of Annual Yearly Progress under NCLB, but what else happened? The federal secretary of education now has the ability to VETO our state education plans (The [federal] secretary shall ‘‘(vi) have the authority to disapprove a State plan”). Testing actually increases under ESSA.

We also got these very troubling additions in ESSA.

Private Schools

(B) OMBUDSMAN.—To help ensure such equity for such private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel, the State educational agency involved shall designate an ombudsman to monitor and enforce the requirements of this part.’’ (pg. 71)

What? Private schools now get government monitors?!?! Yes.

Family plans

ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.”(pg. 69) The Federal Department of HHS and Education have put together a draft implementation document to show how they recommend this be implemented. Here’s one blogger’s analysis of this plan and below are quotes.

“Implement[s] a vision for family engagement that begins prenatally and continues across settings and throughout a child’s developmental and educational experiences” (Page 5)
See “parenting interventions” (pg. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 16)
ESSA allows states to use funds to “support programs that reach parents and family members at home [and] in the community.” (, Pg. 69)
States shall “become active participants in the development, implementation, and review of school-parent compacts, family engagement in education policies, and school planning and improvement;” (IBID, pg. 218)
Provides grants to turn elementary and secondary schools into “Full-Service Community Schools”  with “Pipeline Services” that provide “a continuum of coordinated supports, services, and opportunities for children from birth through… career attainment”, including family health services. (IBID pg. 222, 223, 229)”

What? Family engagement plans with parenting interventions?!?! Yes!
The state is an active participant in a new school-parent compact?!?! Yes!
PRENATAL development tracking through career attainment?!?!?! Yes!
Reducing parents from primarily responsible for their children’s education to a stakeholder in partnership with the state and educators?!?!?!?! Yes!

Governor, which part of this is that “significant step in the right direction” you mentioned above?

Oh thank you, thank you, thank you, Governor Herbert, Senator Hatch, and the other politicians asleep at the wheel who don’t read bills before you pass or evangelize them. Wait… or DID you actually read it??? Maybe you have so fully embraced federal education policies that you value these new interventions???

5) I can’t leave this article without correcting something else. As I’ve been at some of the meet the candidate events, the Governor and his crew are still touting how the state attorney general issued a report on Common Core that says implementation didn’t cede state authority. For a more complete analysis of that report, read Christel Swasey’s write up here.

Three things came out of this report which the Governor and staff fail to ever bring up. The report states that:

  1. Utah’s math and ELA core, were in fact Common Core, something the Governor kept denying. (see point 3 above)
  2. The US Dept. of Education (by imposing waiver conditions and pushing states to adopt federally approved standards) “has infringed upon local and state authority over public education” and that Utah and other states “consented to this infringement through federal coercion.” (emphasis mine)
  3. The report correctly said that “Utah has the legal ability to repeal” Common Core.

Mr. Governor, may I bring your attention to point 2 again?

As for point 3, the governor is exactly right that we didn’t cede state authority. We just don’t exercise the necessary leadership to get us out of this mess because Governor Herbert is the current president of the National Governor’s Association (NGA) which created Common Core with Bill Gate’s money and withdrawing could prove embarrassing and start a bigger chain reaction among states. Governor, you also promised that math and ELA would be the only Common Core subjects Utah would adopt, but now we’ve adopted the Common Core science standards as well.

I encourage you all to read Christel’s full write-up because there are several things the report got wrong. Also realize that it was the Governor’s office that chose the questions the Attorney General was to answer. There are a host of other questions we wanted to have addressed that weren’t.

6) I just received Governor Herbert’s “Open Letter” on Common Core so I have to add a comment about one of the Governor’s claims here. He says:

“I signed into law SB 287 – a bill that makes it illegal for the federal government to have any control.”

No it doesn’t. No law in our state makes it “illegal” for the federal government to have “any control.” They get all the control we cede to them, and we most certainly have. They dictate flexibility requirements, and as noted above there are numerous controls they possess including veto power over our education plans.

Governor Herbert, at Senator Dayton’s request, I drafted that bill (2012 SB 287) you’re referring to. It was to be our *get out of jail free card,* and it’s largely worthless as you signed it. It doesn’t do what you’re suggesting. Oh it sort of did when I drafted it, where I listed off a bunch of triggers that said if any of these things happen, Utah “shall exit” that federal agreement. Unfortunately by the time it reached your pen, it said, “may exit.” Toothless and spineless thanks to interference from some who were nervous we might actually stand up to the federal government. If it did what you actually suggest, why haven’t you utilized it and showed the feds you mean business since some of those triggers have been pulled?

7) Someone just reminded me about this one. In 2013, 65.5% of state delegates voted for a resolution calling on the Governor, legislature, and state board to get us out of the Common Core agenda. The Governor has just ignored this completely.

In conclusion, any talk of the Common Core standards being “just standards” or “state-led” is an abominable lie. These standards were masterminded by a small secretive group with an agenda. For more information on that agenda, Please read the following articles.

This article constitutes an attempt to set the record straight. I agree with many of the things the Governor has done the past several years and applaud his efforts in blocking funding to Planned Parenthood, signing the parental rights and opt-out bill that Senator Osmond ran, and many other things. This is not meant to be a personal attack on the Governor himself, but he invites a rebuttal when he infers certain things in his advertising and openly states partial facts. His campaign statements do not reflect a reality of events that are well known nationwide, and even in his own Common Core history.

For what it’s worth I have had a number of conversations with Jonathan Johnson, currently running for Governor against Gary Herbert. I can’t tell you how refreshing it is to have a real conversation about education issues with Jonathan, send him further information, and have him actually read it and get back to me and others with specific thoughts on what we sent him. We might not always agree 100% of the time, but he’s actually put in the time and effort to understand a different point of view. In the past we have tried to discuss issues with Governor Herbert but his reply was always, “talk to my education advisor,” (who also happens to support Common Core in a huge way).  As a result of my experience and communications with Jonathan Johnson, I personally endorse him in his bid to become governor. Here are some other important reasons why I support hiring JJ.


21 thoughts on “Governor Herbert’s Outrageous Claim”

  1. Fantastic! Thank you for putting this information together, Oak. Nothing has been more frustrating to me than to hear poor information. Common Core is federal overreach and should be gotten rid of as quickly as possible. I am disappointed with the Governors support of this program. I am disappointed he has not fought to get our public lands back. Thank you for your post!

  2. Gov. Herbert has behaved the very same way on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). He said that Utah should write its own standards, that we should have local standards, but ignored the proof that Utah was just wordsmithing the NGSS into the Grade 6-8 SEEd standards and that the state board and the state office of education were duplicitous about their intentions.
    His education advisor is contemptuous of anyone suspicious of national standards.

  3. Excellent. The information gathered is remarkable. Common core is bad to the core. We must stay engaged. We will never give up on the divinely inspired Constitution. Common core strikes at the heart of the checks and balances between the federal government and the states. This usurped power by the feds leads to corruption and the ability to use curriculum to promote political agendas. The heart of common core has nothing to do with education.

  4. The fact the our entire Congressional delegation (except Hatch) voted against the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), should be enough to give Governor Herbert pause. Now that it’s clear that the ESSA is imposing federal oversight of families, he should be immediately reversing his advocacy of ESSA. But, no. He’s now just digging in his heels to support it while giving us double-speak. It’s truly disheartening. And, all the reason we need to elect Jonathan Johnson.

  5. At the last Republican state convention, both my husband and I were state delegates. I spoke with Govenor Herbert personally about his feelings on common core. He was not even willing to listen to my suggestion that every teacher I knew hated it, and Utah children needed something better than common core. In fact, he stated that all the teachers he knew loved it. Another delegate we knew asked me what I had asked him, and what his reply had been, because he had not been able to get close enough to hear, so I told him. He said he was watching the faces of the crowd around us when I asked him the question, and they did NOT like his answer. A short time later, we all went into the convention, and when common core was mentioned, nearly all of the delegates said “boo!” Those of us who have taken the time to study out the political issues do not want common core.

  6. We need to get this information in the hands of the state delegates before the convention on April 24th! If there is to be ANY hope in killing Common Core in the state of Utah, we will need a governor who is willing to fight it. Clearly, Herbert is not our choice. Jonathan Johnson CAN NOT even get on the ballot unless he is nominated at the convention. Would anyone be willing to mail or hand deliver this article to their recently elected state delegates? I’ve spoken with several state delegates in the past few days. They are taking their responsibilities seriously and most are willing to listen.

    1. After you “kill” common core in Utah, what will you replace it with? How will you do it? How will you pay for it? How will you make sure the standards are rigorous? How will you pay for teacher training in the new standards? How will you assess to see if the standards are working? Just wondering. Would love to see posts answering these questions. Who Do you trust in Utah to see that the standards are what you would like? Do you know what you want in the standards? Just hoping you know some education experts that will do this inexpensively for us. I’d be on board if you can help me with these quesitons.

      1. Dawn, when you say you’d be on board if someone can help you with those questions, are you saying you recognize Common Core as deficient and if there was another plan that made sense you’d be for it?

        1. When I look at the core standards on the state education web site I feel they are more rigorous than what we had before and rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water (at great taxpayer expense) we should fix whichever parts are most objectionable (using parents and teachers as the determiners of what is objectionable) and move on, so the focus can actually be on helping children learn. If you have a good plan that can be implemented and can answer all my questions I would love to hear about it. I posted previously below with other concerns I have. You have pages and pages of detailed comments against the governor and the core standards but I cannot see getting rid of these standards until we have a feasible plan to replace it. Do you have children in the public education system?

          1. Dawn, in 2002 the state adopted math standards that were rated a D from Fordham and a C- from the US Chamber of Commerce. They were horrible and allowed Alpine School District and others to do things like remove the times tables and long division from elementary math. I got involved with legislators to fix this and in 2007 we got new math standards that were rated an A- by Fordham. Those standards were never implemented in most districts because the USOE got wind that another set of national standards was going to be coming out which would replace those and let districts know so they didn’t proceed with implementation so they didn’t adopt and then switch right away. What Utah should do in my opinion, is adopt the CA Green Dot standards for math which have had a tremendous impact in CA by raising the number of students proficient in algebra by 8th grade, by a factor of 3, and for minority and low-SES students a factor of 6. Check it out here:
            For ELA, Dr. Sandra Stotsky offered to come to Utah and work with Utah teachers to create the best standards in the country.
            She also released for free the ELA standards revision that MA did in 2010 just before adopting CCSS. This was to make tweaks to the 2001 standards that were already excellent. These are perhaps the finest standards available.
            Now all this is great, but ultimately, I do not believe we should mandate every student has to follow state standards at the pace and content someone decides. Particularly in math, students should be able to proceed at their own pace using the standards merely as the path that makes sense to proceed along.
            To answer your last question, yes I do have children in public school. Two are in district schools right now.

          2. So how about supporting these ideas? :) We may criticize certain things but we do generate ideas to fill the gaps as well.

  7. My name is Aleta Taylor and I am a candidate for Senate Seat 10.
    I do not support common core and am attempting to meet with nearly 400 delegates in the next two weeks at several events I and the republican party have planned. I would be willing to pass out information to those candidates. I am one of three candidates. One supports common core, and the other is heavily involved in managing charter schools, and has what I believe amounts to a clear conflict of interest. He can come close to writing out his own check with public funds. I support your goals and would appreciate the opportunity to reach out to your members for support. I can be reached at aletataylor at , as well as by phone at 801-244-1585 you can look at my web page at

  8. I am a GOP state delegate. In my speech seeking election, I told my neighbors that I was concerned about 2 very big things with Gov. Herbert:
    (1) His involvement with Common Core; and
    (2) His signing SB54 without considering the First Amendment (freedom of association) violations that it embodies.
    Thanks, Oak, for articulating my initial concerns about “Item #1”. Now, as a state delegate, I am duty-bound to hear the “other side” — but I am afraid that Gov. Herbert simply will not squarely address this topic. Very frustrating, indeed.

  9. I’m interested to know what you would use to replace the standards that are now in place in the Core for Utah. (I am referring only to the math and language arts Common Core that we have adopted.) We have spent a lot of money already having education experts review all the standards as they stand now and approve or disapprove of them. I know it is at least the $100,00 mark as far as paying people at both UVU and Utah State going over all the standards. I am assuming from the comments above that you distrust ALL of the education experts at both of these universities. So, wondering who in Utah is better to develop these standards?

    Who will develop and choose the new standards, and why do we need to start from scratch? Aren’t there standards that have been developed in other places that we can go over and approve? Seems like this would cost less money. We are already in 51st place for per pupil spending and I am wondering where this money will come from to completely develop new standards? I think to have the best education standards, we should have education experts, including teachers that are developing and vetting these standards. I am not tied to any certain standards, but I want high standards that are actually implemented. I admire Gov. Herbert for trying to make our standards better. I’m sad that it’s a political issue. The most important thing in my mind is that every child in Utah has a chance to have a good education, whichever kind they choose. And, since the majority choose public education, it’s critical that we as a state spend money and time on this issue. I have talked with JJ on this also, and like some of his ideas, but he does not seem to have clear cut methodology on how to change standards/implement new standards in a way that doesn’t cost any more money that we are using now, or that is better implemented (at the same cost) than the current ones have been.

    I would prefer to see our money spent on better training for teachers to implement standards, and for hiring specialized tutors in every school to help students reach grade level (which is determined by standards as far as I can tell) in math and Reading at a minimum. All teaching ultimately comes down to the district and school and classroom level, and if teachers are not trained in how to implement higher standards, nothing will improve. I like that JJ is promoting kids at grade 3 being up to grade level. Which standard is he using to determine what grade level is? How do teachers and parents and others know if students are reading at grade level unless they know what the standard is? If we keep changing standards, how to the teachers keep up with what to teach? How do we determine if students are at grade level if there is no assessment, and how do we know how to improve curriculum and standards if we don’t have data telling us how students are doing? No politician I have talked to so far has had good, solid financial and feasible answers to these questions. I’d love feedback on this.

    1. Dawn,

      He answered your question above. There are already excellent standards out there.

      As for review of the standards, you are mistaking the timeline. These standards were adopted before almost anyone in the state could review them.

      My wife is a 7th and 8th grade LA teacher. Before that, she was a professional technical writer. I’m an award-winning fiction author. We got wind of the standards a month or so before they were adopted. We raised numerous questions and concerns.

      The state responded, not by changing the standards or addressing our concerns. No, instead they invited my wife to be part of a group to learn about the standards and discuss how they could apply them.

      Why? Because the train had already left the station. They were going to adopt these things no matter what.

      There is no vetting occurring. The only review I’ve seen is focused on how to IMPLEMENT the standards.

      The problem with the standards isn’t that the standards have issues. There’s not a set of standards out there that can’t be improved in some way.

      The problem is that the state has ZERO control over those standards. They can’t change the standards. The license doesn’t work that way. All they can do is add 10-15% more. To change any standard the state would have to lobby a private company, because it’s a private company that owns the copyright to them, not the states.

      A private company is the one that controls the standards.

      And what is that company going to do if Utah wants something changed? It’s not going to listen to one state. Why would it? If all the rest of the states are okay with that standard, they’ll tell us that they appreciate our feedback but, sorry, not going to change it.

      This means any change has to go through a huge process of convincing a majority of all other states. It becomes a federal voting process.

      Are you kidding?

      Someone in some Utah county who has a good idea or complaint has to convince the majority of the whole nation to make the change?

      Ain’t gonna happen.

      The real problem with the core is not the standards. If we have control, standards can be changed and improved. And as Oak pointed out, there are already excellent existing standards we can adopt.

      The problem is that the common core puts all states at the mercy of a private company.

      1. absolutely correct. Check out Eagle Forum newsletters for the Pearson connection. COMMON CORE is a money bag for the private company in charge of all the printing and testing etc. Here is a question- since 2+2 hasn’t changed, why don’t we improve our teaching methods for teachers and training of how to fix problems that students have instead of spending money on making sure everyone has a minimum set of skills for community college? Let the kids who want to succeed do so and let those who do not chose that choice to flounder, sad as it may be. “College ready” is not working since so many can’t do the entry level work and must take remedial courses.

  10. Dawn,

    Can you point to an explanation of the $100,000 vetting and review? The standards were already adopted. A few years ago. So what’s the purpose of folks at the university looking at them now?

    Is it because there was no review before they were adopted?

    My wife and I both have English degrees. Both of us have professional writing experience. She teaches in public schools. I teach for the corporate world.

    We may not be gurus, but we’ve done a heck of lot with LA. And there are tons more like us out there.

    It didn’t take us more than 30 minutes to read the 7th and 8th grade LA standards and spot a number of issues.

    But the biggest issue again is not the standards themselves. Heck, we could do what Alaska did and reject the common core standards and write out own that are similar. it could be done very quickly. Then they’d be ours to change as we wished.

    The problem isn’t the standards or creating them. It’s that there’s NO local control.

    If we want great schools, if we want to be able to adapt quickly to changes in the workplace etc., we MUST be able to experiment and change at a local level.

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