"But if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by...any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward [district], it is a belief against all experience." --Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Why I Oppose Common Core

Who is in control of our children's education?

This shift to the Common Core is a huge lurch away from bottom-up, local control to top-down, centralized control. Common Core is about creating a single pathway to supposed economic and educational success. Think about it, 45 states all adopting the same standards at the same time. 45 states all implementing Common Core testing, nationwide, at the same time. All the publishers and teacher training courses aligning to Common Core at the same time. And, what about college? the ACT and SAT? They, too, will be aligning to Common Core. What are the options should you object, as a parent, as a school, as a district? What are the options if we decide, once we have full implementation and actual experience to back up the Common Core experiment, that we made a mistake? How do we amend? How do we turn back? A few years from now, it will be too late. We have just signed on to a system to eliminate, through attrition, virtually all other options in public education. 

And who made this decision about what our kids will learn? Five people with a nod from Bill Gates and a couple of DC lobbying groups, were able to get their untested vision implemented via financial and legal incentives, as well as disputed promises of 'greater rigor', 'college and career readiness', and 'international benchmarking'. We have decided to go down this path due, in part, to incentives, but also to the idea of not being left behind the rest of the states. That, somehow, Utah wasn't capable of taking care of our own. It shows a supreme lack of confidence in the people, teachers, and principals of Utah that our State Board thought they needed to rush to adopt the Common Core, along with other states to get the federal money, instead of allowing the debate, discussion, and involvement of local Utahns in this process. 

People will say, “It doesn't matter where we get it, the ends justify the means.” We must reject that notion. What we are saying, in effect, is that the principles we stand for don't matter. That parents and local communities don't matter—only the opinion of the so-called experts matters, as long as our kids learn what the experts want them to learn. Why would we want to encourage a system where the people are not involved in creating the best schools? Instead, we have a system where we trust the experts to tell us what 'the best' actually means. And in this case, those 'experts' are in control.

In 1816, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter about education and linked it to the proper role of government. In it, he articulates two important principles. He said, “if it is believed that these elementary schools will be better managed by the governor and council, the commissioners of the literary fund, or any other general authority of the government, than by the parents within each ward, it is a belief against all experience. …
No, my friend, the way to have good and safe government, is not to trust it all to one, but to divide it among the many, distributing to every one exactly the functions he is competent to.”

Common Core violates both these principles: 1) Parents must direct the education of their kids in school, not the government, and 2) Good and safe government, and that includes public schools, comes from dividing and distributing power. Consolidated power is not safe, and creates the potential for corruption, and, at the very least, destroys the means for innovation and outside the box thinking.

Jefferson goes on to say,“What has destroyed liberty and the rights of man in every government which has ever existed under the sun? The generalizing and concentrating all cares and powers into one body...” 

This is EXACTLY what Common Core does.

We are at the crossroads. We can abdicate our parental and local responsibilities to the so-called experts and the rich philanthropists, or we can reclaim bottom-up, parent-controlled education. In the end, I will stand on the side of parents, local teachers, and local communities deciding what is of most worth to pass on to their own children.


  1. Excellent remarks! Thank you.

  2. AMEN! You are right on, Wendy Hart!

  3. Having moved states many times, it has really helped my daughter to pick up where she left off in this synchronized educational system.

    1. How long have you found this synchronized system working for you?

      How has the integrated math worked out, since Utah is only one of two states to use the integrated math? Our curriculum people have said that is quite a challenge when kids move in from other states.

  4. Wendy, you are amazing! Keep up the good work for our community--we appreciate you!

  5. Thank you for standing up against Common Core! You're a brave warrior!

  6. Wendy,

    What have been the responses from mathematics organizations throughout the country to the Common Core in math? Math teacher organizations, math professors, etc. I know you can find individuals from all educational areas with differing opinions. What about those who are a group of "experts"? What are their positions?


  7. Part of the problem with fuzzy math came from the NCTM. They have lost all credibility, in my opinion.

    However, the Fordham Foundation, which rates standards, did a state-by-state comparison in 2010 of the existing standards in all 50 states and compared them to the Common Core. Despite having received millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation for developing supportive materials for the Common Core, Fordham said the following about Utah's 2007 math standards (while giving the 2007 Utah standards the SAME rating as the Common Core: A-minus).
    "Utah’s standards are beautifully presented and generally both clear and specific. They receive three points out of three for Clarity and Specificity
    The standards are generally very strong and cover most of the essential content with both depth and rigor. The high school standards are particularly strong...."

    "Utah’s standards are briefly stated and usually clear, making them easier to read and follow than Common Core. In addition, the high school content is organized so that standards addressing specific topics, such as quadratic functions, are grouped together in a mathematically coherent way. The organization of the Common Core is more diffi­cult to navigate, in part because standards dealing with related topics sometimes appear separately rather than together."

    My personal experience is the Common Core math standards are not grouped together in a coherent way.