When opponents of the Core surfaced last year, blaming their adoption in Utah on a socialist plot, the Governor was quick to denounce these claims, saying the Common Core is not a “socialistic program foisted upon us by the federal government.”
Oh, how quickly opinions change when election season is upon us. This apparent hypocrisy is all too evident in the introduction and swift progress at the Utah State Capitol of SCR13 (Concurrent Resolution on Common Core Standards). This resolution was released to the public only last week, well after the time when most bills are usually unveiled. Since then, two new versions of the bill have been adopted and this morning it’s already passed the Senate. Though only one day remains in the session after today, the momentum this bill is enjoying could easily carry it through the House before the session ends at midnight on Thursday.
The adopted second substitute of SCR13 that’s moving forward now is a resolution of the Utah Legislature and Governor that asks the Utah State Board of Education to reconsider its unanimous decision to join dozens of other states in adopting the Common Core State Standards in 2010.
These more rigorous academic standards for Math and English Language Arts, now known as the Utah Core Standards, set clear goals for grade-level progress so students, parents and teachers all understand what is expected of students. Utah educators and subject-area experts had a seat at the table in developing these standards, and public meetings were held seeking input prior to their adoption.
The Utah Core Standards are now being phased in to our schools in a carefully planned, statewide effort, which includes a significant amount of professional development for teachers. Participants in these Core Academies have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to receive additional training and excitement over the prospect of improved instruction and learning in their classrooms. This professional development has also placed Utah ahead of the curve in implementing these standards and has become a model for this type of training, which is so crucial to successfully rolling out a new set of state standards.
I am troubled to see the Governor now signing on to this Concurrent Resolution in a clear reversal of position, asking the Board to reconsider a decision it made a year and a half ago.
Since they were first introduced in 2009, the Common Core Standards received the support of the Governor’s Education Excellence Commission, the Commissioner of Higher Education, the Lieutenant Governor and Governor Gary Herbert, himself.
When opponents of the Core surfaced last year, blaming their adoption in Utah on a socialist plot, the Governor was quick to denounce these claims, saying the Common Core is not a “socialistic program foisted upon us by the federal government.” And Governor Herbert was quoted as recently as Feb. 26 – the day before the Concurrent Resolution urging reconsideration of the Common Core was made public — explaining the benefits of adopting the Common Core:
“Utah’s Common Core is a state-initiated, state-designed effort to raise the bar on public education outcomes and ensure Utah’s school children can compete post-graduation in a global economy,” the Governor told the Provo Daily Herald. “We owe it to our kids to demand higher standards and more competitive outcomes.”
I am troubled to see the Governor now signing on to this Concurrent Resolution in a clear reversal of position, asking the Board to reconsider a decision it made a year and a half ago. Typically, a parliamentary request for reconsideration is an indication by the sponsors and supporters they do not believe the original decision was correct. But clearly Utah’s Governor had previously supported the Core.
So why this sudden change of heart?
One wonders if the Governor’s puzzling actions in joining in this resolution are due to the fact that Utah’s Republican caucuses are just around the corner. With a vocal minority opposing the Common Core with virulent and preposterous conspiracy theories (see “Comon Core goals: ‘Federal takeover’ or an opportunity for Utah schools?”, Salt Lake Tribune, February 20, 2012), I propose a possible answer: He fears for his job. Is political fear trumping good policy?
Kim Burningham represents District 5 on the Utah State Board of Education. Prior to joining the State Board of Education, he served for 15 years in the Utah Legislature and was an educator for many years, twice named Outstanding Teaching of the Year.