The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission problem

This article was submitted by Tami Hirsch. Thank you Tami for this well-researched article.


My name is Tami Hirsch and I am a former High School teacher who has taught in both UT and in CA. I have also lived in Japan and Taiwan, where National Standard-based high-stakes testing is destroying their freedoms. I have also home schooled for 10 years while living in CA, because my values and morals were absent in their textbooks. I moved back to UT, where my values match those locally.

I value American public schooling where creativity and innovation are instilled by talented and exceptional teachers. I value the freedom of choice to home school my own children or choose to send them to public or private school. I value local control over choosing standards, curriculum and assessments. I also value the American Dream to have the freedom to choose whatever college or career our children want to pursue. I am also the mother of five children who are currently in public school from K-12th grade. I most likely will choose to home school once again, because I have just learned that SAGE testing will now be FOUR times next year, which I am adamantly opposed to due to students directly having to long onto SAGE servers most likely located in Washington, D.C. where American Institutes for Research is located and were paid $39 million to write, support and score the test. The scores will be given to USOE and then to each school district. This is a top-down approach to testing and opposite to what CTR’s were in the past. Also, the 1974 FERPA law has been changed unconstitutionally so that any third party research company can have access to student data WITHOUT parental consent.

I began researching what Common Core was when my children’s math classes were changed. I have read the standards at and compared them against Utah’s Core Standards. USOE was given permission by the copyrighted holders of Common Core, which are NGA and CCSO, (back door entity to push agendas) to modify the ELA standards on July 2010 to add in cursive writing. Common Core State Standards are Utah Core Standards in both Math and ELA. They are one and the same although, our Governor has said they are not. He knows the truth as he is on the NGA’s Executive Committee and I will prove that Governor Herbert is LEADING the implementation of Obama’s corporate-federal national standard-based, high-stakes testing education in Utah unconstitutionally. We have legislation to back out of Common Core, and now is the time to get out.

Because of my education background, I require facts to find the differences between fact vs fiction. Opinions are not facts. I had started my personal search by putting together a notebook with tabs that read: 1. The White House 2. US Dept. of Ed 3. NGA  4. CCSO  5. AIR 6. USOE 7. Legislation 8. Articles

I wanted to first see what Obama’s blueprint for education was and then compare it against what we have here in Utah. I have found that Utah’s education blueprint matches closely to Obama’s education blueprint. I also found half-truths and flat out lies coming from our Governor and USOE.

While scouring the NGA for anything published about Gov. Herbert, I scrolled down to State News for Utah, where it said, “Utah Education Reform Proposals Aligned with Common Core” at this link:–center-newsletters/page_2010/col2-content/main-content-list/front–center—november-19-2010.html

Utah Education Reform Proposals Aligned with Common Core

Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s Governor’s Education Excellence Commission recently adopted eight recommendations for state leader action to increase the number of Utahns ages 24-64 with a postsecondary credential. The Commission’s recommendations focus on college and workforce readiness. The recommendations include:

◾ implementing the Common Core State Standards and adopting a new assessment system based on the Common Core State Standards that expands computer-adaptive, formative assessments and college- and career-readiness assessments;

◾ Funding an initiative to provide high school seniors with opportunities to complete college credits built on the Common Core State Standards; and

◾ implementing a funding system for institutions of higher education that is mission driven.

These recommendations are part of an overall plan that includes a vision statement and five education imperatives, all of which have been endorsed by the State Board of Regents, the State Board of Education and the Utah College of Applied Technology Board of Trustees.

I clicked on the recommendations and printed it off. If you type in the http address from my printed version, the article will NOT be found on the Governor’s site anymore. It can only be found through the link at the NGA.

So, I found out that the Governor had formed his own commission that he named, Governor’s Education Excellence Commission. I googled some more and found this article that announced the inaugural meeting of his commission on March 24, 2010 that would meet monthly and form an agenda that would impact the future of public and higher education in Utah powerfully by introducing legislation to force the agenda, which is the back door way to get what you want done.

The Governor will serve as chairman for the Commission, which includes key stakeholders from the state’s education and business communities, as well as legislative leaders. Governor Herbert has tasked the group with examining Utah’s systems of public and higher education and delivering recommendations for improvement prior to the end of the year.

“The Educational Excellence Commission is one of the most exciting initiatives I’ve undertaken as Governor,” Governor Herbert said. “It has great potential to make a lasting impact on our state’s future by developing a blueprint for educational success in Utah.”

The Commission’s inaugural meeting will take place Wednesday, March 24, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Capitol Board Room. The meeting is open to the public and members of the media.

Governor Herbert developed his Education Excellence Commission consisting of 31 members from politicians, business leaders, PTA and stake holders. After close review of Obama’s blueprints on education, and reading directly from web-site, his Education Excellence Commission was set up to mirror President Obama’s Equity and Excellence Commission. Notice the slight name difference because it reveals the federal commission’s goals of EQUITY. Read his, “For Each and Every Child”. This is a progressive, socialist way of distributing wealth and the most qualified teachers to the poorest neighborhoods to level the inequality. Governor Herbert’s commission’s 2020 Vision stems from a report written by Linda Darling Hammond who is President Obama’s former education policy adviser. She helped form the Presidents’ EEC and is in charge of content specifications for SBAC Common Core aligned assessments. Please see these links:

The next few links contain Governor Herbert’s Education Excellence Commissions Vision Statement, with five education imperatives and how they will be implemented. Remember, this Commission does not represent Utah Citizens by an elected position. In politics now, the way to PUSH AGENDAS through back doors is forming Commissions, Associations and non-profits. The NGA and the CCSSO are both such entities, but have used their influence for powerful legislation to implement Obama’s Race To the Top plan for National Standards-based reform, and the high-stakes testing that goes with it along with data-backed teacher, principal and school evaluations and funding.

The purpose of our Governor’s Education Excellence Commission is also to PUSH AGENDAS through the legislation. The name of Vision 2020 has now been changed to Prosperity 2020 and to PACE 2020, but it still closely mirror’s Obama’s Vision 2020. Our Governor has had to rename Common Core State Standards to Utah Core as well, to confuse the lay public to not make the connection to the Federal Government.

Here is what Governor Herbert’s original Vision 2020 said, “By 2020 and thereafter, at least 66% of Utahns ages 20-64 will have a postsecondary degree or certificate, ensuring a well-educated citizenry and workforce that qualitatively and quantitatively meet the needs of Utah employers, which will lead to greater economic prosperity and a better quality of life for all Utahns.” He developed a 10 year plan, mirroring Obama’s plan.

I thought Governor Herbert was a Republican? The corporate-federal unconstitutional grab at our children’s education must be more than partisan politics. It must be about MONEY and DATA collection. In fact, that is what I am finding. The Governor boasts that his STEM initiatives will have a “Return on Investment” by “attracting high tech employers such as Adobe and NSA.” REALLY?! NSA?!

Each of his initiatives have stated specifically how much it will cost and what the “return on investment” will be. His Education Excellence Commission has NEW initiatives each year. In 2011, there were 8 proposals.

Proposal No 1: Optional Extended-Day Kindergarten will cost $7.5 million.

Proposal No. 2: Reading and Literacy of achieving proficiency by 90% by 3rd grade. Cost is $2 million. It bothers me that they said, “Some States use 3rd and 4th grade reading test scores to predict future crime rates and to forecast the need for prison beds.” Finland STARTS public school at age 7.

Proposal No. 3: Common Core State Standards: Provide funding support for USBE to complete the first phase of CCSS implementation by the 2010-2011 school year, which will include, among other things, extensive professional development and full implementation from kindergarten through 12th grade. Cost $2 million. They called them Common Core State Standards back then, not Utah Core as they do now. In this proposal under “Importance,” it says CCSS provides the foundation for alignments that lead to other efficiencies in the system. The CCSS will also focus students on moving through the education pipeline preparing for postsecondary education and training. The CCSS provide the framework for developing alignments between public and higher education and between education and economic development in the state.

Proposal No. 4 Assessment Improvements for computer-based adaptive testing that line with CCSS. These are high-stakes data driven tests. Cost $1 million.

Proposal No. 5: Mission-Based Funding which holds colleges and universities accountable for funding. Cost $1 million.

Proposal No. 6: Internal Alignments among relevant government divisions that focuses education on supporting economic development. They want to standardize general education for Utah’s System of Higher Education (USHE) with Common Core State Standards, CCSS K-12 standards. In addition, they want Utah Data Alliance (UDA) to track data of students to career employment. Cost $250,000. Career Pathways programs will help students choose careers.

Proposal No. 7: External Alignments: focuses on extending alignments to business and industry through public/private partnerships.   They want to align education, training, and research with the needs of Utah businesses and industries, making the colleges and universities engines of economic development. Cost $250,000

Proposal No. 8: On-line Early College: Develop and on-line college classes to high school students using technology. Cost $500,000

The top link in the group of links above has the specific 2011 proposals. I was unable to find 2012 proposals but found 2013 proposals and the PACE 2020 Booklet. Proposals for 2013 are not listed by numbers but there are 10 proposals totaling in the millions of dollars. The proposals that I am concerned about are spending $13.2 million for computer adaptive testing (CAT) hardware for all students and for $2.9 million to provide one-to-one computer learning devices.

As a teacher, I do not think this is a wise use of money. I would NOT want computers in my classroom. They are a distraction. Computer centers used by all teachers at specific times are a much better use of time and money. They tout that teachers would now be facilitators, not teachers. Teach America’s six week course to become a teacher, uses the term facilitators. Will teachers be replaced by facilitators with each child having to conform to learn only through computers?

Also, in the 2013 proposals, again they revisit teacher performance evaluation and funding, which I think is a BULLYING tactic to force teachers to teach to the High Stakes Tests and to have to teach subjects with CCSS aligned curriculum only. When the Governor and USOE say CCSS are ONLY STANDARDS, they say this KNOWING that they are NOT ONLY STANDARDS, but curriculum, high-stakes testing and college entrance exams and general education at universities are ALL now aligned to CCSS. These documents even state that ACT cadre of tests that cost $800,000, called EXPLORE, PLAN and ACT, will offer common core standard-based assessment in summative form throughout a student’s secondary schooling. These tests also have personal attitudes and behaviors in parts of them. ACT Inc., has announced their new testing, which will include ongoing testing for kindergarten on to help with career placement.

The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission asked for $2.4 million for collecting data on With the UDA database, they can now collect individual data from UEN, USOE, USHE, UCAT, GOPB, DWS and other government divisions can be stored in an integrated database so students can be tracked from Pre-K through employment. Obama calls his “cradle to career” data collection.

The next link below was found through the White House web-site and shows Obama’s 2020 plan and check marks are placed on which states have plans in place to mirror his plan. Utah’s is check-marked because our Governor has his plan in place through is Education Excellence Commission. It says 38% of Utah’s population holds bachelor degrees or above.

The breakdown for getting 66% in Governor Herbert’s PACE 2020 plan is a hoax, because if you add the bachelor and graduate degrees together, it is 39%. So by 2020, our goals really only represent 1% increase, as the other degrees are associates and certifications. Governor Herbert never graduated from BYU but went the certificate route to become a realtor and business owner before seeking office.

Personally, if Utah needs education reform, it should be at a local level, involving local parents, teachers, and school districts in our own communities to draft the reform. Parents should be the leaders in this reform, as they are constitutionally protected as the primary stake holders. Without parental involvement, students do not perform at their best. Utah has talented public school teachers who are the most qualified to discuss reforms because they are in the trenches each and every day and understand what reforms should take place. Education reforms should not come from the government or from the business community, as they have no clue how education happens in the classroom. Reforming education based on how businesses are run will not work, as well.

Finland, who is one of the top performers, does not run their education as a business but as mentors to one another to find what each individual’s learning and teaching styles match up to foster learning. Their standards are broad, not specific and measurable, because they treat each child as an individual, rather than the same or COMMON. They don’t collect data and are not data driven.

As a teacher, I knew if my students understood what I taught without collecting data through SAGE. I was told by Alpine School District Board member, JoDee Sundberg, that next year, SAGE testing will be now take place four times a year. In states where this is happening already, teachers are quitting, children are having to see psychologists for anxiety and depression and creativity is gone in the classroom, as so much time is spent on testing and collecting data. Obama’s Equity and Excellence Commission calls for INCLUDING health and social workers in the schools and that more psychologists need to be hired at each school. Interesting….

Today our children, teachers, principals, and school districts are now being BULLIED through local and federal governments by being forced to give and take high stakes tests and having teacher, principal and school evaluations according to these forced tests.

If the education community and parents in Utah were to vote on whether or not to have high stakes testing in our schools, I am confident that our talented passionate teachers and our caring parents would NEVER vote for this type of reform. This type of reform punishes creativity and individuality in both the children and the teachers. We will lose our competitive edge and become like the Asian countries where they have lost these skills and where suicide is the number one cause of death in children due to cut-offs and career paths chosen. High stakes testing takes away freedom to choose a career they have passion to pursue.

Reforms in education should not be driven by businesses to create a workforce. I was disturbed by our USOE Kindergarten flyer that has the words, Department of Workforce on the front. Our children should not be considered as human capital and the needs of businesses should not circumvent their needs to supply their workforce over the freedom and liberties that we each been given by God.

One of Governor Herbert’s Education Excellence Commissions’ imperatives ( is called: “Align Education and Workforce Data. Maintain Utah Data Alliance to develop a comprehensive data integration system for collaboration” among UEN, USHE, UCAT, USOE, and DWS ($600K) My children should not be considered WORKFORCE, but as precious humans that can explore, learn, create, and become their own unique person, without being told to align or choose a career path until they are ready. Recently, in Texas, they passed a law that says students have to choose their career path by 8th grade. Really? In Germany, their high-stakes cut off test is given at the end of 4th grade and then they are forced into three career paths. Their future depends on their test taking skills at age 10.

I feel like our precious children’s futures are at risk by allowing Governor Herbert to continue on this education reform path that mirrors Obama’s education blue print. He didn’t listen last year when the appointed delegates at the GOP conference voted against Common Core in Utah.  He also emulates Obama’s deceit by saying that Utah Core is not Common Core, when he is LEADING the implementation of Common Core in UT exactly as planned by Obama’s administration. We need to replace our Governor.


6 thoughts on “The Governor’s Education Excellence Commission problem”

  1. I have for some time been concerned that Herbert is an Obama man. He is either stupid or stuck on this change thingy. The governor has made too many choices that lean towards us losing our state as a state and giving all of our rights over to the Feds.

  2. SAGE tests FOUR times next year, REALLY? I’m dreading the one time our school is doing it this year. It goes on for days! When will the kids learn? I opted my kids out and they are so tired of reading while the others spend hours on practice tests AND the real tests. This is so frustrating to watch. Why are there not more parents outraged by this? We have to stop this!

    1. Can’t fully blame him, though a big part rests on him for not doing ANYTHING to get us out of this. Primary fault is with the state school board who are essentially selected by the Governor’s committee, not elected.

  3. Wow! Tami has really done her research on the governor. I have personally seen these reports she printed out. This is a very comprehensive letter. Thank you, Tami, for your efforts.
    For those of you who don’t read lengthy letters, but will read a short message… Tami’s concluding paragraphs sum up the concerns of which parents should be aware.

    I would also recommend that Oak also post a separate synopsis of this letter beginning with the paragraph, “Personally, if Utah requires education reform,” and ending with Tami’s conclusion.

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