Review of Common Core, Federal Role in Standards Sought by Utah Gov. Herbert

By Andrew Ujifusa — July 17, 2014 2 min read
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Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced July 17 that he has asked state Attorney General Sean Reyes to determine whether the Common Core State Standards are inappropriately linked to the federal government the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

In his lengthy announcement regarding the common core, Herbert, a Republican, wrote, “The term ‘Common Core’ has become so contentious that it is dividing us on things we all actually agree on, like the need for local control, setting high standards, and preparing our students to succeed. It is time for us to stop talking past one another and to start talking to one another.”

Utah residents will also get a chance to review and make comments about the common core English/language arts and math standards. There’s also a survey option where people can make suggestions about the standards.

In addition, Herbert announced a review of the standards from “a higher education perspective” led by Rich Kendell, a former commissioner of the Utah System of Higher Education.

In case you’re wondering, Herbert is sounding pretty similar to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a fellow Republican who in his attack on common core and aligned tests has also raised the spectre of common-core-as-Trojan-horse for federal intrusion. And then there’s Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican who, in an about-face last month, called common core a “failed” program that should be replaced by state-led efforts. (Oddly, his spokeswoman subsequently said that Bryant’s position on the standards had not changed, despite his comments.) You get the idea.

But while there will be a review of the common core by the executive branch in Utah, there’s nothing in there about repealing the standards.

There’s no significant and truly new federal activity linked to the standards in, say, the last six months or so that would obviously trigger alarm bells for GOP governors. (I’m not including the ongoing federal funding for the two common-core testing consortia.) However, Utah is considering whether it wants to extend its waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act, and states must have “college- and career-ready standards” in order to receive consideration for waivers. State officials were slated to meet July 17 to discuss a waiver extension. So the U.S. Department of Education is certainly on people’s minds in the Beehive State.

One person who should be happy about today’s announcement is Gayle Ruzicka, the president of the Utah Eagle Forum. She may have been the first person to publicly tag the standards as “Obama Core,” as my colleague Alyson Klein reported nearly two years ago from the 2012 Republican National Convention.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.