Retired Utah Appellate Judge Norman Jackson’s Letter to Legislators

To Utah Lawyer-Legislators:

Executive Summary of the attached paper entitled:


By Norman H. Jackson, Judge, Utah Court of Appeals, Retired. – January 28, 2013

  1. The Utah State Board of Education adopted Federal Common Core Education Standards in 2010 without giving notice to Utah’s citizens or their Legislature.
  2. The Board signed on to Common Core to secure Federal Race-To-The-Top funding. Funding was denied. But, Utah remains locked into the Federal mandates.
  3. The Board breached its fiduciary duty to the public by failing to do Due Diligence before acting. The action constituted a denial of citizen’s rights to Due Process.
  4. Mitt Romney said Common Core is a mistake because the time may come when the Federal Government has an agenda it wants to promote. That time has arrived.
  5. Obama’s “Vision 2020 Roadmap” outlines the agenda:
    1. Control education
    2. Compel the States into resource distribution
    3. To “direct remedy” any failure to comply



By Norman H. Jackson, Judge, Utah Court of Appeals, Retired PAPER – January 28, 2013

Utah’s State Board of Education adopted the Federal Common Core State Standards Initiative before they, or anyone else knew, what the Standards would be. The Federal curriculum, assessments and other materials had not been written and some are still being drafted. We, and our legislators, had no notice of this action, and have no voice in the ongoing production of Common Core. This procedure has usurped basic education policy and content decisions from parents and our elected representatives. The National takeover rolls on despite the fact that most conservative legislators polled at the 2012 Utah State Convention voiced opposition to Common Core’s federal mandates. Further, these mandates are contrary to the Tenth Amendment of the U. S. Constitution which reserves control over education to the states and the people.

Here is the factual background and timeline for the creation and progress of Common Core.  Education “reformers” have worked for decades to impose national education standards.  The current phase began during the 2008 Presidential election when it was introduced as uniform “American Standards”.  As the Obama administration came into power, their vision for nationalizing education was labeled “Benchmarking For Success”.  To avoid the scrutiny of the democratic process, they used the Stimulus Bill to distribute an enormous pot of money to the U. S. Dept. of Education. And this taxpayer money is being used to shape state and local education without Congressional oversight.

In March 2009, the Department announced a two-part “Race-To-The-Top” competition for states to receive Common Core education funding. States could not get any money unless they signed contracts to adopt the Federal Standards. In March 2010, the “first official public draft” of the Standards (Math and English only) was released.  A final draft was released in June, and our State Board of Education immediately applied for funding and adopted Common Core.  Education Week reported Rutgers professor Joseph Rosenstein’s observation that: “Deciding so quickly … was irresponsible”.  Moreover, our School Board’s Application was not deemed meritorious. Funding was denied. But, Common Core mandates remain.

These facts demonstrate that we the people, and our children, were denied Due Diligence. Due Diligence is “such diligence as a reasonable person under the same circumstances would use.” It is “used most often in connection with the performance of a professional or fiduciary duty.”  It was not reasonable under these circumstances for the Board to act without giving notice to its constituents and providing an opportunity to respond. As fiduciaries, the Board had the duty to act in behalf of the public with care, candor and loyalty in fulfilling its obligations. I concur with Professor Rosenstein and conclude that the Board’s actions constitute a breach of their fiduciary duty to do “Due Diligence” in our behalf.

Further, these facts demonstrate that Utah citizens were denied Due Process. The boundaries of Due Process are not fixed. Fundamental to procedural due process is adequate notice prior to the government’s deprivation of one’s life, liberty, or property, and an opportunity to be heard and defend one’s rights. Substantive due process is a limit on the government’s power to affect the above rights. It is a safeguard against government action that is unfair, irrational or arbitrary in advancing a government interest.

The Federal mandates of Common Core dwarf No Child Left Behind mandates. They have the potential to be like Medicaid and ObamaCare with immense un-vetted and unfunded costs to taxpayers.  States and their citizens have the Constitutional right to local control. But, the Government requires that Common Core be fully implemented by 2014. Moreover, recent Federal revisions to the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) render student and family data – educational, health and otherwise – collectible by the Federal Government through the P-20W data systems they paid States to create. The State School Board’s denial of due process to citizens has made this possible.

I concur with Mitt Romney’s recent evaluation of Common Core: “I don’t subscribe to the idea of the Federal Government trying to push a Common Core on various states. It’s one thing to put out as a model and let people adopt it as they will, but to financially reward states based upon accepting the Federal Government’s idea of a curriculum, I think, is a mistake. And the reason I say that is that there may come a time when the Government has an agenda that it wants to promote”.

Obama’s “2020 Vision Roadmap” for America’s schools was co-written by his former education advisor, Linda Darling-Hammond. Darling-Hammond is now in charge of content specifications for half the country’s testing under Common Core. Yet, she attacks the use of standardized tests! In Nation Magazine, she compares America’s education system with South African apartheid and proposes that poverty requires the government to guarantee “housing, healthcare, and basic income security” to all. Then she praises nations that centrally control their schools.

At the end of her article, she touts Obama’s grand “2020 Vision Roadmap” (which she helped write) stating: “The Federal government should compel states to review inter-  and intra- school resource distribution using established indicators. States that fail to comply would be subject to withdrawal of Federal funds, and the Federal Government would have the right to the direct remedy to correct the problem.”

The citizens of Utah and the United States are in for some spectacular surprises, including federally controlled education and redistribution of State and school district resources during Obama’s second term. I urge Utah’s lawyer legislators to evaluate the State Board’s denial of due diligence and due process to Utah citizens, and to protect taxpayers and students from Obama’s Education policies to ­be fully implemented by 2014.

4 thoughts on “Retired Utah Appellate Judge Norman Jackson’s Letter to Legislators”

  1. I agree whole heartedly. It is stated in the roadmap that any state not adhering to the rules and regulations set forth by the federal government pertaining to common core, “shall have federal funds withdrawn and that steps should be taken to compel them to follow suit”? I think we should take this one step further or maybe pre-emptively. Lets stop funding them. Lets give the federal taxes to the state! We pay it anyways, why not keep it here. That should easily pay for the things we need that are paid for by the federal funds so generously given back to us. I believe that It would almost assuredly create a surplus within our own state. Our state law makers should treat this great state of ours like its own home. Defend it and it’s occupants as if they were part of the “family”. When the federal government tried to enforce any law requiring a resident of this state to pay owed taxes to the federal government, this state should step in and protect its family member, after all, that’s how it was supposed to be in the first place. Let us fund our own programs and we can be a template for a better system. It’s obvious that we don’t need someone from outside of this state telling us how to live life here. I would never ask a wall street banker how to raise a cow, nor would I seek help from a cattle rancher on how to reprogram my computers operating system. I want someone who’s been a teacher and has dealt with learning triumphs and downfalls on a daily basis. I would also like to see responsible parents and guardians to help make these decisions. The idea that it’s better to have someone who has spent more time in classes on how to educate than actually educating just leads to people trying to come up with a new way of doing the same thing. I’m not saying that some things were not broken, but when the light bulb burns out, you shouldn’t hire an astronaut to come to your house and explain the physics behind the earths gravitational pull against the space shuttle and how much thrust or force you would need to overcome such opposite force. Just get another bulb. If it wasn’t bright enough before, get a stronger one. We have some very educated people in this state that would be more than willing to sit on a board and help decide what is in “their kids” best interest. Defunding common core should be the “second” step. The first step should be defunding the federal government and then let us vote as a state, how much the “state” should owe the federal government. That debt should be just that though, a debt, for services rendered. It’s simple to put into perspective. If you went to a steakhouse and ordered New York strip medium rare and they brought you a chard hockey puck, would you pay? We should pay for services rendered not the other way around. If you don’t agree with this line of thinking that’s ok. These are my thoughts and for now, I can still voice them. But, just ask yourself this, what in the last 10 years of your life can you look at and say “this is a program that is working and want to continue to pay for it”! I can’t think of any off the top of my head that are run or funded by the federal government. We, as residents of this state are responsible for its well being, and in turn it is responsible for ours. I too am frustrated when my 9 year old child comes home from school with math work and when I question him on how he came up with the wrong answer and how he reached that answer, his reply? I don’t know dad, we didn’t have time to get to that so I guessed. I’m pretty mathematically inclined and can learn to do trigonometry from the textbook without an instructor. I believe it has a lot to do with the way I was taught in grade school. Repetition! Every new year started with a review of the basics. I’m not saying I should be elected to a board to decide what and how to teach the young minds that we so desperately need for the coming age but, when the index of the guidelines that should be used contain words and phrases that half the population couldn’t define, I start to wonder what the goal is. Let’s us, as a state, decide what’s best for our young minds. Let us take responsibility for our own and gain worth and through our own achievements. Thank you for reading if you made it to the bottom. Thank you for the forum in which to express my opinions.


    Sean Jaeger,

    a Utah resident and parent of 2 wonderfully gifted and amazing children and husband to an extraordinary wife.

    1. “shall have federal funds withdrawn and that steps should be taken to compel them to follow suit” – I can’t find this quote anywhere. Do you have a link?

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