A legal review by Attorney General Sean Reyes has found that Utah has not lost control over its education system through adoption of the Common Core standards.
The review of the state’s legal commitments was requested by Governor Gary Herbert after concerns about the standards were raised. Herbert hopes the findings will calm any lingering fears that the standards will give up control to the federal government.
“There’s really some exaggerated notions out there that we find with the legal review are not true. So I would hope people would say, ‘Oh, gee, I’m so relieved. I’m glad to know that is really not true,” Herbert said.
However, the review has not settled opponents’ concerns.
Created in 2009 by a group of governors and state school officials, the standards hoped to unify curriculum across the country. The Obama administration played a key role in promoting the standards.
Since Utah adopted the standards in 2010, opponents have continued to pop up claiming that they promoted federal control.
The review did not look at every aspect of the Common Core, but rather focused on specific issues raised by the governor. Findings of the review stated that Utah has not lost any control over its education, nor has any control been given to the federal government within the state.
Also, the standards were found to have been implemented legally. No federal money was received for using the standards, and no federal money will be lost if they are changed.
However, Oak Norton, an organizer with the group Utahns Against Common Core, said the review was limited and did not answer all the questions posed by the group, who feel the standards were implemented as a result of receiving federal grant money.
“These questions are very narrow in scope and they don’t paint the whole picture,” Norton said.
The group feels that Utah did not review the cost of the “sub-par” standards prior to their adoption.
“This wasn’t about picking the best standards,” he said. “This was about applying for federal money.”
Norton did mention that he was happy that the review said the state “has been arguably coerced” into applying for a federal waiver for the No Child Left Behind Act, as the state is unable to meet the standards proposed by the law, which has “potentially drastic” penalties.
In order to receive that waiver, the state must adopt standards that will prepare students for college and future careers. The Common Core standards are offered as a suggestion.
Herbert has also created a 24-member team of education experts to offer their opinions concerning the standards. The team met for the first time last week and plans on releasing a statement within a couple of months.
A website for public comment concerning the standards has also been created by the governor’s office. Over 7,000 comments have already been submitted and will be forwarded to the committee.