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Last summer, Gov. Gary Herbert called for a review of the Common Core State Standards to determine, "once and for all," if Utah had control over its schools and curriculum.
On Friday, Herbert released two reports that say the state has.
The governor presented state school board members with separate reports from Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and a panel of higher education representatives.
Both the attorney general and the governor's panel decided the state school board had maintained control over teaching in Utah and actually improved previous education benchmarks when they adopted the Common Core.
Herbert stopped short of saying the question of local control had been settled. But the reports, he said, provided clarification that Utah has the ultimate authority over its math and English standards.
"We determine what they are," Herbert said. "We can change them, modify them, we can do whatever we want. We are in control."
The Common Core has become a controversial flashpoint in education circles with both liberals and conservatives critiquing the set of math and English grade-level standards.
While the reports from the higher education panel endorsed the rigor and structure of the Common Core, members of that committee suggested that Utah teachers had been inadequately prepared to teach the new standards.
Rich Kendell, chairman of the review committee, said a greater investment in training and materials is likely necessary to make headway with the Common Core.
"I think the issue that we ran into was an important one, that it does have to do with implementation," Kendell said.
Prior to the recession, the state education budget included roughly $77 million for teacher training, David Thomas, school board vice chairman, said. Today, that funding has been reduced to $1 million.
Herbert said school funding is always a challenge in Utah, where per-student spending ranks at the bottom of the country. But he added that his proposed budget calls for increases in teacher training funds.
He said he was encouraged by the endorsement of Common Core by the review panel and the legal review by Reyes.
"I've always felt like our education system is working pretty well, in spite of some of the naysayers out there," he said. "We're getting a pretty good bang for our buck. We're getting good outcomes."
Friday's school board meeting was attended by a number of anti-Common Core demonstrators, who dressed in green and stood along 500 South in Salt Lake City waving signs while Herbert met with board members.
Kris Kimball, a Salt Lake City resident, said she believed some of the information provided by Reyes and Herbert was inaccurate, particularly in regard to the role of the federal government in education.
She said she attended her first school board meeting in February of 2011, after the board adopted the Common Core standards in 2010. At the time, she said, there were only four or five Utahns following the debate and she was pleased to see that thousands of Utahns have now signed petitions calling for withdrawal from the Common Core.
"The movement is growing," she said. "It's huge."