Two Moms Against Common Core

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Deseret News Article

The above article did a decent job of trying to tell an even story but just by the title you can tell which way it's slanted.  I need to clear something up - "There's no harm in raising the standards," Ellis said. "I just don't think it should be done the way it's being done." 

 I never said there is no harm in raising the standards.  I told Mr. Wood that I am all for raising standards but I don't think we're doing it the right way. 

If you don't want to read the entire article skip down to the bottom to see the facts they've been looking for.


SALT LAKE CITY — Criticism of the Common Core State Standards is intensifying as Utah's election season progresses.
Utah has been a part of the consortium of states implementing common educational standards for more than two years. But the topic has gained notoriety in recent months, from multiple bills debated during the legislative session asserting the state's educational sovereignty, to candidates for public office frequently being questioned on their support or opposition to the standards.
The Common Core State Standards are a set of achievement benchmarks in mathematics and English language arts. They are voluntarily adopted, with the goal of improving college- and career-readiness among students as well as establishing a degree of educational consistency between states.
To many, however, that push for inter-state consistency and collaboration echoes over-reaching federal control of local education. After 10 years of hearing educators lament the teach-to-the-test burden of No Child Left Behind, many parents are crying foul.
The group Utahns Against Common Core has launched a petition on its website and has gathered more than 1,000 signatures. The petition calls for a withdrawal from the common core standards and demands that full control over curriculum and assessments be given to local school districts. It also calls for the state to develop a five-year plan to remove any and all dependence on federal education funding.
Sydnee Dickson, director of teaching and learning for the State Office of Education, said most of the concerns she's heard regarding the standards are based on misinformation. She said much of the furor over Common Core is politically-motivated — stemming from anti-federal sentiment and ignoring the standards themselves — and is perpetuated by blogs instead of factual data.
"We're already seeing higher pass rates," she said. "Our experience since we began the adoption is that it's changed the instruction. Teachers are expecting more rigor."
Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka said she supports raising education standards in Utah, but doesn't agree that the states needs national benchmarks to do so.
"We don't have to do Common Core to raise mathematics standards," she said. "We don't have to do Common Core to work with other states. Raising standards and Common Core are two different things."
Ruzicka, like many opponents of Common Core, foresees a federal takeover of education with Utah's participation held hostage by federal dollars. Dickson said that there is no tie between adopting the standards and receiving federal funding and emphasized the  standards do not threaten state sovereignty.
"Teachers and school districts are still in control of what is being taught and how it's being taught," she said.
The topic was addressed recently at an April 11 Republican gubernatorial debate. Nearly all the candidates expressed a need for greater local control of education, with Morgan Philpot and William Skokos stating explicitly their opposition to the Common Core State Standards.
"I will fight to get us out of Common Core," Philpot said, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Gov. Gary Herbert, who has overseen the adoption of the Common Core standards, instead focused on the need for greater rigor in Utah classrooms and spoke favorably of shutting down the federal Department of Education.
While anti-federal ideology plays a large part in the debate, there is also a concern among some parents, like Alisa Ellis, that the common standards would impede well-performing students from accelerating their education. Ellis has worked with her children to get ahead in math and hopefully complete AP Calculus in their junior year of high school. She said she was unsure what effect the new benchmarks would have on students in the tops of their classes. 
"How can you take a whole nation and put it into the same window without hurting the top and bottom?" Ellis said.
Dickson said that under Common Core, accelerated tracks and honors courses will continue to be available. If a student is gifted enough to skip courses, parents and school districts can work together to make that happen. 
She also said that with AP examinations taken independent of a classroom, there is nothing to stop a student in their junior year from registering for and taking the test if they feel proficient.
Dawn Davies, Utah Parent Teacher Association vice president, agreed with Dickson, saying the standards set a minimum benchmark for each grade but do not prevent anyone from moving ahead. She said the standards help make students better able to meet global and local business needs and prepare students who are entering or exiting the state.
"We are a mobile society and as people come to our state we need to have the high standards," Davies said.
Ruzicka, however, downplayed the need for inter-state consistency as a solution in search of a problem.
Ellis said she is more worried about federal control than the standards themselves. She said she met with Herbert and members of the State Board of Education but that they had failed to answer her questions, instead turning discussion back to the benchmarks raised under Common Core.
"There's no harm in raising the standards," Ellis said. "I just don't think it should be done the way it's being done."
Dickson said officials focus on the standards because that is, in essence, what the Common Core State Standards are. She said the peripheral discussions of socialism — she's heard the standards referred to by opponents as the "Communist" Core — and federal manipulation is little more than political fodder in a campaign season.
"I have yet to hear any of the political comments that are valid," Dickson said. "It's all steeped in fear and not fact."


Well Ms. Dickson here are the facts:

1.        The Governor of Utah has signed Utah on as a governing member of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)( - see page 301) whose assessments include psychometric attribute testing of our children.
·         Psychometric testing is “any test used to quantify a particular aspect of a person's mental abilities or mindset–eg, aptitude, intelligence, mental abilities and personality. See IQ test, Personality testing, Psychological testing.”(
EVIDENCE:  Psychometric testing is a violation of Utah law per code section 53A-302. (
EVIDENCE:  Utah is “committed to implement a plan to identify any existing barriers in state law, statute, regulation, or policy to implementing the proposed assessment system and to addressing any such barriers prior to full implementation of the summative assessment components of the system” – (

2.        Membership in SBAC obligates us to work in consensus with 30 other states thus eliminating local control of Utah education.
3.       There are only two organizations, SBAC and PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers), creating assessments for the standards and those groups were funded by the Federal Government.
4.       Utah, along with other states didn’t officially adopt Common Core until being incentivized through the Federal Race to the Top (RTTT) grant process. 
EVIDENCE:  The Whiteboard advisors said, “…the effort gained a great deal of momentum when the Obama Administration included participation in the Common Core as an eligibility criterion for many of the programs created out of the $110 billion stimulus funds. Programs such as Race to the Top rewarded states that not only participated in developing the Common Core, but also adopted them.” (From Education Insider: Common Core Standards and Assessment Coalitions: Whiteboard Advisors)( - pg. 7)
EVIDENCE:  States were given more points for “raising standards” and also for joining a group of states to create assessments.
·         Membership in the assessment groups then required states to adopt Common Core Standards ( – pg. 3
5.        Nearly at the same time as the above RTTT, the Federal Government announced additional incentives with the Race to the Top for Assessments (RTTTA) Funds requiring states to join with other states and create common assessments and standards to receive the prize.
EVIDENCE:  “To be eligible to receive the award an eligible applicant must include a minimum of 15 states.”  ( - pg.12)
EVIDENCE:  “…an eligible applicant must submit assurances from each State that the State will adopt a common set of … standards” (pg. 15)
6.        The Utah State School Board was given a weekend  to sign an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which;
a.        Authorized the creation of Common Core Sate Standards
b.      Gave the Federal Government permission to “provide key financial support for this effort in developing a common core of state standards and in moving toward common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund. ( pg. 90)
EVIDENCE:  Dr. Hales presented the information about developing Common Standards to the Board on May 1, 2009 and “Indicated that they would like us to sign a MOU on Monday [May 4th] if we are going to participate.”

7.       The Utah State School Board recognized Common Core Standards as National Standards from the beginning as is noted in the State School Board Minutes from April 2009.
EVIDENCE:   “WestEd which is an arm of the US Department of Education has askedfor some that are in that [American Diploma Project ADP] to come together to create some common standards.   All is coming to a peak moment with the stimulus package for national common standards. 
On April 17 Board Leadership has approved her [Superintendent Harrington] travel to visit with CCSSO and the expectation is that Utah might sign a Memorandum of Understanding that we might begin the dialogue.  It will not commit her [Superintendent Harrington] or the Board but would add Utah to the states that are interested in understanding on how we might develop common standards. 
It was clarified that the national standards would focus around language arts and math.”
8.        The Utah State School Board hastily and negligently signed our state up for the Common Core Initiative which included SBAC in an effort to receive money from a Federal grant.
EVIDENCE:  “Part of our Race to the Top Application was participation in a Common Assessment Consortium - Associate Superintendent Judy Park reported that states are scrambling to see who they want to align themselves with or partner with.  Because the federal government required we declare what consortium you were in we were under an impossible deadline.  To make it work we all agreed we would do a Non-binding MOU’s into a Consortium.  Utah along with many other states signed on to multiple consortiums.”  State School Board Meeting Feb. 2010
·          Three of the consortiums joined together forming SBAC and we later signed a binding MOU

1 comment:

  1. Alisa... I was so offended when I first read this article. Its reminiscent of how condescending the media was when people first started speaking against No Child Left Behind. Thank you for your in depth research and response. I want to use it to help me get other moms in my area involved in opposing this!