Governor Launches Review of Academic Standards

Jul 17, 2014

Governor Gary Herbert is calling for a comprehensive legal review of the state’s adoption of the Common Core Standards. He’s hoping a legal analysis performed by Utah’s Attorney General will quash any misconceptions and ease ongoing concerns that the state has lost control of academic standards and curriculum.

In a conversation with the media and public education officials Thursday, Herbert stressed that in Utah, parents and teachers, principals, local school board members and the state school board are and always will be the primary decision makers when it comes to public education.

“What this is going to do is reassert that we have Utah standards that are standards that we as Utahns believe are appropriate,” Herbert says. “That will in fact give us the goal of making sure that our students are college and career ready.”

But many groups in the state and some state lawmakers contend Utah’s adoption of the Common Core standards come with federal strings attached, including mandated texts, curriculum and social engineering.  

That’s why Herbert has asked Utah’s Attorney General to verify that the Common Core complies with state law, specifically SB 287, which requires Utah to exit any agreements or contracts that relinquish control of Utah’s standards or curriculum to the federal government. And he’s asked the AG to confirm the state’s waiver from No Child Left Behind complies with that law as well.

The governor has also enlisted Dr. Rich Kendall, former education advisor to Utah Governor Mike Leavitt to review the standards and possibly recommend changes. Herbert says legislative leadership has agreed to work with his office and the state board of education to address concerns about protecting student data and testing.

State School Superintendent Martell Menlove says he anticipates no new information will come from this review, but he supports the governor’s efforts.

“It’s my opinion that these efforts will reconfirm the actions of the state board of education,” Menlove says. “It’s my opinion that Utah’s already in control of those standards and I would hope that these efforts reaffirm that.”

The governor has launched a website where people can review the standards and provide feedback.