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Lawmakers plan to discuss Wednesday formally asking state education leaders to reconsider their adoption of Common Core academic standards.
The Senate Education Committee is scheduled to hear SCR13, a resolution in which the governor and Legislature would ask the state school board to reconsider its 2010 decision to adopt the Common Core standards. The math and language arts standards, developed as part of a states-led initiative, aim to improve college and career readiness. The standards outline what concepts students should learn in each grade.
The meeting is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. in room 415 of the State Capitol.
Education leaders have touted the standards as more rigorous than Utah's current ones, and Utah is one of 48 states and territories that have adopted them. Utah sixth and ninth-grade math teachers began teaching new math classes based on the standards this school year.
But the resolution, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, would urge the state school board to reconsider the standards because they "will impair the ability of local stakeholders to innovate and continue to make improvement over time." And, it says, "the centralized decision making that governs the Common Core standards is vulnerable to manipulation by special interest groups who over time may seek to lower the rigor and quality of the standards." The resolution also notes that points were awarded to states that adopted the Common Core in the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top competition for federal money. Utah did not win that money.
In recent weeks, controversy over the Common Core has resurfaced, with conservative opponents saying Utah has ceded local control by adopting the standards, while advocates have argued the standards still leave curriculum entirely up to Utah, will improve rigor in Utah classrooms, and were not imposed on the state by the feds.
Osmond said Tuesday he doesn't personally believe the state school board should reverse it's decision to adopt the Common Core. But he believes they should "evaluate constantly and continually the implementation of the Common Core to ensure we preserve control over what's going on." He said he's heard concerns about the Core throughout the session from constituents and colleagues.
"We're just trying to communicate to the state board that we're concerned and we want them to evaluate and look at decisions related to the Common Core and make sure we can still maintain control of the development of our curriculum and tests for Utah students," Osmond said.
State school board chair Debra Roberts said Tuesday that the state board would never make a decision that would cede local control over education in Utah.
"We have reviewed them thoroughly and would never have any standards that we believed would harm our students," Roberts said. "Rather these are standards that would help our students in their critical thinking skills, in their literacy skills, in the things we need to do to help our students have the skills they need to live fruitful lives."