"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

In Education Reform, We are all Utahns Now.

Their arguments hold true in your state too.  Remember, these standards are "common".

Folks in Utah are making a unified effort to get common core standards overturned in their state.  How standards were implemented in their state is how it happened in Missouri and other states: standards signed onto by the governor, state board of education officials (appointed, not elected officials in MO), superintendents and union representatives.

Did you notice what group of stakeholders was missing?  The voters were never given the option to vote on standards affecting their local schools, districts and their students.  This occurred even as the taxpayers are the ones footing these unfunded mandates...estimated in MO to cost $350 Million.

Utahns are facing the same future as Missourians with these standards because they are common.  States can no longer differentiate themselves and decide on their own standards.  The "common" in common core standards is of utmost importance in a "one-size fits all" education to be adopted in the majority of school districts.

I received the following letter from Utahns Against Common Core.  Citizens from all states should study their site and techniques and start the journey to compel their legislatures to eliminate these untested, unproven, unfunded and unconstitutional mandates.

This letter could be written to any of the State Boards adopting Common Core.  It will give you an idea on how to approach these members and what questions you would like answered.  It is quite astounding that the taxpayers who fund these bureaucrats cannot receive factual documentation on the claims these officials state are true:


Letter to State Education Officials

Alisa Ellis sent this letter to Brenda Hales, other USOE officers, and the State School Board this morning. We wanted to share this with the public and ask that you share this as well. There is a need for a hearing, perhaps in an education committee interim legislative meeting. Questions are not being fully answered by state officials who continue to say we’re wrong but without producing documentation.
Brenda -
I know you and others at the State office are frustrated with our continual fight against Common Core.  This is why I feel it is time we sit down and talk.  As noted after the public forum at Granite district offices by a reporter (loosely quoted) “both sides left further entrenched in their views”.
I have seen the articles and statements put out by you and others at the state office and I have read many, many government documents relating to the Common Core Standards and other educational reform ideals.  From my perspective the documents and the statements  put out by your office do not mesh.
I’ve seen your timeline and also studied the minutes of your meetings.  I’ve studied the minutes from other states and feel that there is a lot of misrepresentation.  I know you feel that I am misinformed but I can assure you I’m more informed than I’ve ever been in my life.
Of course there are some documents and meetings I am not privy too and so I feel it is imperative to sit down with you and Superintendent Shumway and go over all the questions I and other parent’s and citizens have. At a meeting on April 6th with Governor Herbert, he promised to help us set up a meeting with Superintendent Shumway and so I’ve copied his secretary to get that ball rolling if I must.
I would like to see documentation to the statements made by the state office.
I would like to see exactly how you and other’s in UT wrote the Math and ELA standards.  Especially after I listened to the audio of the board meeting where you said they didn’t want us (UT) to send a team to help write the standards because they didn’t want it to turn into a Constitutional convention.  I’d like to see a comparison showing the difference between Common Core State Standards and the Utah Core.  I am very confused as to how UT claims to have written copyrighted standards.  I read in the NCLB waiver that UT cross-walked our standards with Common Core standards.  I’d like you to show me exactly how that was done and like I said show me the differences in the standards.

I’d like to know why members of the board are of the opinion that UT is not bound to any contractual obligations.  We have an approved waiver application to NCLB (contractual obligation) and yet members of the board are of the opinion we can change our standards whenever we want.  Be prepared in the meeting to explain exactly what process this will take when we’ve agreed to the definitions in the document and attached evidence of how we’ll meet the requirements outlined by the Dept. of Ed.
It is not effective to continue this “he said, she said dialogue”.  We must have a meeting.  I recognize it is summer but feel an urgency to sit down and talk with you.
I am available this week.
We do not need to keep down this path of confrontation.  It is not conducive to constructive dialogue.  I have 6 children in the public schools in UT and have no plans of backing down on my questions until I am satisfied that the answers given are backed up by fact and documentation and that this is the best move for our state and our children.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you,
Alisa Ellis

One reader responded to Alisa's letter and her comment holds true for all common core states.  My only addition would be not only did the federal DOE push for these standards and assessments, they were also supported by two private entities unaccountable to taxpayers, the NGA and CCSSO:

I stand behind you Alisa. This should be the start of a public petition for a legislative hearing. 

After all, Common Core was never approved by our representatives in the Utah legislature or brought up in the public forum before it was signed into law and yet it deals with our most precious resource, our children. It never went through the US Congress either and yet the Federal Gov’t is spending billions of tax payer money implementing Common Core. It was pushed only by the Dept of Education, which is an unconstitutional entity run by the questionable Arne Duncan, and Obama’s executive overreach of power, causing the biggest national takeover of education in history. It was approved immediately by our Utah Board of Ed without doing a cost analysis or a trial run anywhere in the nation. Legal documents do not mesh with the USOE’s unproven claims that they continue to publicize.

A legislative hearing would be a great opportunity for BOTH sides to offer up their facts and come to a conclusion which is best for our Utah children. Thank you for standing up with courage and calling Brenda Hales and the USOE on the carpet for their very poor decision making, lack of documented facts and elitist attitude towards the parents, representatives and citizens of this state.


We are all Utahns Against Common Core now.  Take a page from their playbook and start holding these bureaucrats accountable.  Public officials are spending our money and using our children for reforms having little or nothing to do with improving education.  Here is the link of Utahans Against Common Core Standards' petition you could fashion for your particular state:

Based upon the factual evidence documented at www.UtahnsAgainstCommonCore.com I ask the Governor, State Board of Education, and State Superintendent to immediately take the steps necessary to rescind Common Core adoption, SBAC membership, the Race to the Top application, the No Child Left Behind waiver, and all other requirements upon the state that are related to these, and return to the Utah Core standards in use prior to Common Core adoption.

Second, I request the Utah Attorney General in conjunction with the Federalism Subcommittee of the Constitutional Defense Council, to review all documentation related to such applications and contracts as mentioned above to ensure our state sovereignty is held inviolate. I further request that this review of programs, documents, and applications, include an examination to ensure no private or personal information about students is transmitted outside of local schools and districts.

Third, inasmuch as the Utah State Board of Education adopted Common Core State Standards before they were even finalized, failed to perform a cost analysis related to statewide adoption, and failed to hold public meetings where citizens could review the actual standards prior to adoption, I request that a committee be appointed to rewrite Utah’s standards through a well-developed and transparent process that includes numerous public hearings and input from committees that utilizes knowledge-based, academic, clearly worded, grade-level specific, measurable standards from other states as models.

Fourth, give individual schools and districts full local control with the ability to adopt their own high standards, assessments, and research-based curriculum to encourage and allow for greater parental participation in the education system.

Fifth, I request that a committee of legislators and citizens be formed to develop a 5-year plan to get Utah off all federal funding of education, and if the federal government threatens to pull non-education related funding away from the state as we pursue this course, that this knowledge should be made public and fought with the assistance of the state Attorney General.

Sixth, I ask that the state strengthen privacy laws and make sharing of personal student data with any state or federal entity a crime both for the one disseminating and the recipient who requested personal information.

[Your Signature]
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