Letter to Dr. Menlove – Please verify Utah Core = Common Core

This letter was sent to Dr. Menlove on 2/17/2014. His reply is below along with my reply. Don’t ever let someone tell you that the Utah core differs from Common Core. Math and ELA standards are Common Core. Dr. Menlove acknowledges this below.


Dr. Menlove,

I received an interesting email today. Evidently someone was at the capitol last week and heard you state in a meeting several times that the Utah Core has nothing to do with the national Common Core. Is this correct? I am sure this person misheard what you said because I can’t imagine why on earth would you ever state something like that? I am well aware that Utah adopted Common Core and then renamed it Utah core to try and deflect criticism, but I don’t know how openly USOE officials are disavowing any relation to CCSS. The only difference in the standards that I am aware of is that after 8 months of pressing the USOE and state board to restore cursive writing into the standards, they were added as part of the 15% additional standards we are allowed to have. Can you please explain what else makes the Utah core different from the national Common Core or is the ESEA Flexibility Waiver that Utah filed with the Feds inaccurate in the statements the USOE represented to the Federal department? I tend to put a lot more weight in source documents than I do in verbal assurances and I just want to make sure we are on the same page. I will gladly post your response online so everyone is clear on how the USOE views Utah’s Common Core adoption.

CCSS=Common Core State Standards for any who might not know the acronym.

What I see in the ESEA Flexibility Waiver to get Utah out from No Child Left Behind are the following items (and after jotting these down I quit because there were so many references to CCSS and I’m short on time tonight):

Pg. 21, “The USBE adopted the CCSS in June 2010 along with a statewide implementation timeline. Letters were sent to school district superintendents and charter directors regarding the adoption and timeline; making it clear that all LEAs would be expected to adopt the standards within the given timeline.”

Pg. 22, “Implementation efforts after the USBE adoption in 2010 were focused on communication and gathering stakeholder input. A website (http://www.schools.utah.gov/core/) was assembled providing information for parents and educators to assist in understanding the new CCSS. The following activities were the focus of our first year efforts.

• Communicate reasons for adopting CCSS to stakeholders

• Gather stakeholder input about CCSS adoption and implementation plans

Pg. 23 “The English language arts crosswalks follow the pattern of showing where the new standard is found in the current core and then reverses this process; showing the current standard in the new core.” (Oak note: this seems to very clearly be stating that the Utah core was being replaced by the new CCSS)

Pg. 30, “An important development is the onslaught of requests from various states, including Race to the Top states, to help them craft professional development in their states to better implement the Common Core Standards.”

Pg. 34, “Promises to Keep includes the 4th Promise: Requiring effective assessment to inform high quality instruction and accountability. With that promise in mind, Utah’s current assessment system is being adjusted to support Utah teachers as they begin the instructional transition to the CCSS prior to the administration of a fully aligned assessment system. Pilot items will be included on the summative assessment aligned to the common core and the results made available to schools but not counted in scoring.”… “In addition, Utah’s online formative assessment system’s item bank has been aligned to the common core and new common core items are being written.”

Pg. 87 is from the August 10, 2010 State Board Meeting minutes and contains this paragraph.


Pg. 91 from the same board minutes:


Pg. 127, “B. The Board shall use the Effective Teaching Standards and Educational Leadership Standards to direct and ensure the implementation of the Utah Common Core Standards.”

So again, can you please once and for all verify for everyone that Utah is in fact using the Common Core State Standards developed through the non-governmental private organizations, NGA and CCSSO? Will you please make sure your people are well aware of this?


Oak Norton


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


Thank you for acknowledging this. Either you or some of the individuals in the USOE seem to be contradicting this, perhaps inadvertently, and declaring to legislators and the public that the Utah core is somehow different from the Common Core State Standards. I appreciate you acknowledging they are the same.



The Utah Core Standards and the Common Core State Standards are not the same.   The Utah Core Standards are much broader and contain standards for subjects other than Math and English/Language Arts.  Additionally, as you have noted, we have added cursive writing to the Utah Core Standards.



Right, the total Utah core includes subjects beyond Common Core because we haven’t adopted Common Core for those subjects, but for math and ELA which we have adopted, they are identical aside from us adding cursive to the standards.



One thing I think there is also some confusion on is that apparently, you or others have represented that we are not bound to the Common Core standards we’ve adopted. Clearly our ESEA waiver application to free us from NCLB states that we are. We agreed in the document that we “agree to accept all of the standards as they are written” and we will use it as our framework and only add up to 15% more. Do you disagree with what we sent the feds in this application?



I am not sure where you find these statement in our ESEA waiver application.   I do not believe they are included in the sections of the waiver that you noted in your email.   Can you point to me where they are found?

What I do find in the ESEA waiver on page 21 is a statement by Supt. Shumway and contained in a letter dated Mach 5, 2012 in which Supt Shumway stated, “On behalf of the Board, I assert its right to complete control of Utah’s learning standards in all areas of our public education curriculum.”   Also on page 21 of the EASE waiver is reference to a letter dated March 16, 2012 from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stating that “states, not the federal government, have the sole right to set learning standards.”



Sorry, I should have included a link for you. This is the ESEA waiver we filed, correct? The page numbers and statements below are all related to this document (clicking the link will load a pdf file).


As for Sup. Shumway’s letter, that holds no legal weight. Declaring a belief in the face of a contract is meaningless.

Arne Duncan’s statement is correct. We have every right as a state to set standards. However, we set them in concrete through the contracts we have entered into.


Awaiting reply 2/18/14

5 thoughts on “Letter to Dr. Menlove – Please verify Utah Core = Common Core”

  1. Thanks for clarifying Oak!

    They should rename Common Core.

    I am thinking OBAMAcore would be just about perfect at this juncture in time.

    This Crony Capitalistic, Fascist, Progressive power grab by the big Corporate Mega Church Pearson, brought to you by the William Ayers School for Advanced Collectivist Studies, a Global Think Tank devoted to Nanny State Busybody’s controlling every aspect of your hobbit existence, IF THEY choose to allow you to live and procreate.



  2. I think Superintendent Menlove is probably not interested in clicking on that link. He also does not care to take the time to reply. “What a bother you are,” he probably thinks, “Leave me alone!” Maybe more of us should bother him.

  3. I have grandchildren in other states also where Common Core (I call it “Communist Core”) is being implemented. It is sorrowful to see their frustrations. This dumbs down our children and inserts ideas and philosophies that are contrary to the core values of our Founding Fathers. It is ridiculous how many people I talk to that are truly unaware of what is happening in our children’s classrooms.

    I refer them to this website. I wonder about the great moral teachers of this country. Individually and collectively. At what point will they rebel and stand against this and stand for our children.

    Grandma Brenda Shaw

  4. We claim that the Common Core and Utah core standards for language arts and math are the same and prove it by referencing secondary documents, but I wanted to see for myself and have just completed a line by line comparison of the two documents—The Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and the Utah State Office of Education Core Standards for Mathematics. Here are my findings.

    1. The standards in the two documents are exactly word for word identical, right down to the footnotes. Nothing was added, deleted, or modified.
    2. The copyright for the Utah standards is owned by the the CCSSO and the National Governors Association. Utah doesn’t have the copyright to its “own” standards!!
    3. There are differences in layout, including title pages, the table of contents, font, color, margins, pagination, footnote style, etc.
    4. Beyond the standards themselves, there are necessary difference in the documents. CCSSO includes instructions for packaging the standards for specific courses. Utah follows those instructions by including “scope and sequence” tables that package, with some explanatory material, the exact same standards into courses (Mathematics I, II, and III) and units. Nothing in these courses varies from the core standards.
    5. Utah omits the Glossary, possibly by mistake, as it is named in the table of contents.

    My analysis puts to rest once and for all the fiction that these documents are in any way different. Utah has not even used it’s option to add a single local standard, let 15%!

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