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"I don't know what they have to say

It makes no difference anyway

Whatever it is, I'm against it!

No matter what it is

Or who commenced it

I'm against it!" — Groucho Marx

The fear that the Common Core academic standards are a plot to surreptitiously indoctrinate the innocent schoolchildren of America into becoming gay socialists should be fatally undermined by recent reports that most Utahns don't even know what the Common Core is.

If Bill Gates and other backers of the educational standards developed by a voluntary confab of governors and state education officials have not yet succeeded in brainwashing all of us into a drone-like acceptance of the plan, that proves that their ability to lead our children astray is limited.

Sadly, though, no good conspiracy theory dies so easily. In fact, poll results pointing to the conclusion that widespread opposition to Common Core standards is based on ignorance and misinformation are likely to be held up as proof that the whole program is so successfully stealthy that it is even more frightening than previously feared.

The facts are these: Common Core standards were thought up and developed at the state level by a group of state officials. Those folks felt, quite logically, that in a large nation where policy and curriculum choices are practically and traditionally made at the local level, everyone would benefit from a set of overall goals intended to help those local decision-makers know the kinds of things their graduates will be expected to know if they are to compete with students from other areas — and from other nations.

The Utah State Board of Education made its own decision to adopt the standards as an overall guide, and it and local school boards retain control over curriculum, testing and other key matters.

Yet a recent Dan Jones and Associates poll commissioned by notes that, while 41 percent of Utah likely voters oppose the standards, 29 percent back them and the rest expressed no opinion, less than a quarter of those polled knew what the program is or where it came from.

Both the Utah poll and a recent Gallup survey suggest that opposition to the plan is based on the widely spread falsehood that the Common Core is a federal mandate.

It isn't. And people who want to have a say in education policy, locally or nationally, must first grasp that.