Letter to Utah State Board, Part 3

You should read part 1 and part 2 before reading this installment. This is the last exchange of emails with Dixie Allen on the state school board. I think now I have provided everyone with both sides of the story so you can understand the State Board and USOE position better. Again, I strongly encourage you all to do your own research. You don’t need to believe what I’m posting. Many people helped put the timeline and links together on our Common Core page and I encourage you to look at the links and do your own homework and ask yourself if you want the state of Utah to be involved in Common Core. If not, you really ought to consider running for school board, state school board, or legislature to influence these things. The deadline is Thursday March 15. Decisions are being made that will impact your children and grandchildren.

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Oak,

Most of the information you have listed below, we did know.  However much of your concern comes from your lack of the perspective of those working in the system and trying to make a reasonable move to better standards, but with no money or help from our legislature to work to improve our standards.  We were well aware of the improvements of Massachusetts and a few other states, but we did not have the money to evaluate and upgrade the standards to the degree necessary.  So when the Governor’s and Chief School Officers Associations started looking into a quality upgrade for common standards to help our students score better on national and international testing, it was the next important step for our state to move forward.

In answer to who evaluated the Common Core Standards for out state, you need to know that specialists at the State Office of Education, State Board Members, District Curriculum Directors, Teachers, specialists and our partners in the K-16 Alliance.  It is believed that the Governor’s Office also checked out the standards, as they signed off on them and added their support.

Your quotes from professors and others are interesting, but they were not part of any information we saw as we adopted the Common Core Standards, a year and a half ago.  I am not sure I disagree with their take on the Standards, however, we see these standards as a stepping stone to move our students closer to the best standards possible.  If you could listen to how hard our districts, administrators, teachers, parents and students are working to raise the bar high enough to meet the expectation of these standards, you would realize it will take some time to move our state to an ultimate level of curriculum standards.

As I stated before, we did know that the Gates Foundation had help fund the standards.  The Gates Foundation have funded many new programs in the educational arena and did not appear to me to be contributors with a specific agenda.  We knew that money was given to pull these standards together — money we did not have to do such work on our own.

Finally, I don’t believe you still understand that regardless of the reasons that Debra made her statement — your reaction and email was accusatory and not that of someone who wanted to better understand the issue and help move our work forward to the best possible quality standards.  Your email was accusatory and uninformed as to what work we have put into this issue and the agendas we have been hearing from the “far right” which Debra was attempting to address.

Bottom line, we have worked for about four years to move our standards to a higher level to improve our student’s ability to be ready for college and/or careers.  It would be nice if interested individuals like you would help us take this step and then take more if needed when it is appropriate.

Dixie

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Dixie, thank you for clarifying that the board knew the connections with the Gates Foundation but was unaware of the agenda. With this important new knowledge that the public has brought to you, what specific actions will the board now take? Clearly this is game changing.

I find it interesting that you say the legislature wouldn’t help to improve the standards when in fact it was the legislature that forced the state to improve the math standards back in 2007-08. The USOE didn’t want to do it.

The USOE also reviews and modifies standards every few years so your argument doesn’t make sense to me. If the legislature wasn’t funding the raising of the standards, then why would the state adopt Common Core standards without a commitment of money from the legislature? If you knew MA was making improvements to their standards, why not ask a standards writer like Dr. Milgram or Dr. Hu, who both helped us before, to make a recommendation for a small sum of money rather than say we couldn’t afford it? Who made the decision then to adopt Common Core if nobody could be paid to review them? I cannot fathom a circumstance where the legislature wouldn’t have supported a move to top of the line standards, especially when they now have to fund Common Core.

You indicate below that you didn’t see these quotes critical of the Common Core back when you adopted the core and quite frankly, that doesn’t surprise me. These standards were approved before there was even a final version for anyone to review. It was breathtaking to those of us who had to battle the USOE to raise standards just a few short years ago to have these brand new standards sail through so fast. Did you know that before the Fordham Foundation rated them an A- (the same as Utah’s math standards), that the Gates Foundation paid Fordham a sizeable sum of money (ie. bribe)? Did you know that the Fordham Foundation actually said that between Utah’s math standards and the Common Core it was “too close to call” as to which was superior? If the state board is truly concerned with raising the bar, why didn’t we adopt California’s math standards which Fordham listed as “clearly superior” to the Common Core? It leaves the public wondering what the real thought process is at the state level because on a common-sense level, this makes no sense spending millions of dollars for a lateral shift (unless of course RTTT funds were tied to adopting Common Core in which case it’s perfectly logical that the state wanted to pull the slot machine handle in the hopes of getting a federal jackpot).

You indicated in a prior email that Debra’s comment was not talking about people like me but about those who thought these standards were too hard.

However, in this reply you indicate that Debra was in fact talking about people from the “far right”. In that case, I’m quite certain most everyone on this email considers myself, Eagle Forum, and other parents part of the “far right.” So it would appear that my “accusatory” email to Debra was exactly on target with what you are now portraying. Her comment fanned the flames that “right wing” people don’t really care about education and in this case don’t want our children to have career and college ready standards. That was completely uncalled for and that’s why I wrote. I happen to like Debra and most of the members of the board that I’ve been able to speak to, but accusing me of not getting both sides of the story before assuming what Debra meant seems now to be completely baseless. In fact, I’d say the board members are more guilty because the USOE and State Board has been representing to the governor and legislature that Common Core was a state-led effort when it actually seems you knew it was funded by the Gates Foundation.

You end by saying this:

“Bottom line, we have worked for about four years to move our standards to a higher level to improve our student’s ability to be ready for college and/or careers.  It would be nice if interested individuals like you would help us take this step and then take more if needed when it is appropriate.”

I’ll end by saying, are you really saying this to me? :)

Oak

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Sorry traveling today- Will get back to you later – But wanted you to consider all the changes in relationship to bringing thousands of students and teachers along on this journey of upgrading our standards and curriculum.

Will answer your other questions later.

Dixie

 

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