Gov. Herbert releases results of legal review of Utah’s Common Core Standards

SALT LAKE CITY – The results of a legal review of Utah’s adoption of Common Core standards in education were presented to Gov. Gary Herbert Tuesday afternoon in the Gold Room of the Utah State Capitol building.

In July of this year, Gov. Herbert requested that Utah State Attorney General Sean Reyes review the state’s adoption of the core standards in order to “clarify state control of academic standards and local district and charter school control of the curriculum,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The release further stated the governor’s request of the review was part of a greater effort to help resolve some of the divisive issues that exist in education, namely the legality of Utah’s adoption of Common Core and the state’s ability to maintain control over the standards and curriculum.

Gov. Herbert asked the attorney general the following five questions to review:

  • Does the State Board of Education have the authority to set academic standard for Utah students?
  • By adoption of Common Core standards has Utah ceded authority over standards and curriculum?
  • Are we, as a state, bound by any federal entanglements in regards to our academic standards and curriculum?
  • Can we change our academic standards, including modifications to Common Core? Can we change the standards?
  • Can we confirm that our waiver from No Child Left Behind is also in compliance with Senate Bill 287?

The results of the review were as follows:

  • The State Board of Education has the authority to set academic standard for Utah students, and the State Board’s adoption of the Common Core State standards was in no way illegal.
  • By adopting the Common Core standards Utah has not ceded authority over to the standards and curriculum. Utah charter schools or local school boards have authority to control their curriculum. There are no partnerships or programs that have indirect control on the curriculum.
  • The definition of entanglement is debatable; however, neither Utah standards nor curricula are dictated by the federal government.
  • Utah did not receive federal monies to adopt Common Core Standards. Utah did not acquiesce education control or state sovereignty by adopting Common Core Standards.
  • Utah’s waiver from No Child Left Behind is in compliance with Senate Bill 287.

Gov. Herbert issued a statement regarding the findings:

What we now have are objective and legally reviewed facts. For those whose view has been that Utah has always held control of its own education standards, they can rest assured they are correct. For those who have been concerned the federal government has taken some degree of control of Utah’s education system, they can breathe a sigh of relief.

Washington County School District Superintendent Larry Bergeson echoed the governor’s statements and said he hopes the district will be able to get back to the business of educating kids.

“This just confirms what we have tried to help people understand,” Bergeson said. “We have local control over how we teach the standards. This issue is so politically charged it is reassuring to hear (these results).”

Bergeson maintains that standards in education have always existed, and the only difference with the current Core Standards is the increased rigor, he said.

“The standards are definitely more rigorous,” Bergeson said. “They require students to apply what they’ve learned to a larger degree.”

Bergeson admits this has caused some frustration among students and parents, but he said he believes the increased rigor is necessary for college and career-readiness.

While both Herbert and Bergeson expressed hope that the results of the review will lay to rest many concerns over the Core Standards, it is likely that opposition and divisiveness will continue to persist both through legal channels – recently a lawsuit was filed against the state challenging the adoption of the standards – and through local voices who want to maintain control over their children’s education.

Independent American Party candidate for House District 75 Nihla Judd opposes Common Core and offered a list of reasons for her opposition. Among her concerns are federal and even state encroachment on a system she feels ought to be controlled on a hyper-local level.

“Utah law states that education is to be administered on a local and parental level,” Judd said. “The state is far away and the federal government is even farther,” she added.

Judd also challenged the legality of a system that was adopted without the state legislature and with no parental reviews held.

Though the legal review from the attorney general counters that language requiring the State Board to “consult with local school boards, school superintendents, teachers, employers and parents in implementing core curriculum standards …” did not exist in 2010 when the standards were adopted, it maintains there was “significant outreach” to local education agencies and the public before and during the consideration and adoption of state Common Core standards.

The review goes on to say that during the period between May 2009 through Aug. 2010, consideration of Common Core standards was an “agenda item or public comment topic in 10 meetings” of the State Board of Education and was reflected in the minutes of those meetings.

Judd also opposes Common Core on a curriculum level and said though the standards do look great, it would behoove parents to take a look at how they are being implemented. She cited the way math is being taught as a chief example.

“Math is slow and sluggish to the point of being ridiculous,” Judd said.

Judd offered the following quote by Farley Anderson from his book “The Restoration of our Republic” to sum up her opinions on the Common Core standards:

If the responsibility to teach a nation’s children is transferred from the parents to the state, then every other responsibility and right are in danger of following.

For now, Washington County School District will stay the course, Bergeson said.

To read the attorney general’s report in its entirety, click here.


  • Read and view the release here
  • Read what the Utah State Board of Education had to say about the review here

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  • Jenny Baker October 9, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Now that our Governor and Superintendent has clarified that Utah is in charge of the standards , we can go to work and find a better way of teaching the children. College and career readiness is great, but establishing a life long love for learning is far more important! Let’s go back to reading the classics, studying tried and true math algorithms and return to the important role that parents play in the development of their children.
    Schools and politicians have a tendency to believe that schools are the fundamental unit of society and that the voice of parents and family is secondary to the needs of the community schools. Parents are calling upon all responsible civic leaders to defend the family as the fundamental unit of society and protect the sacred relationship of parent and child.
    Now that we have had it made clear to us that Washigton County School District has the legal rights to do away with Common Core, let’s do it and replace it with a parent approved curriculum!

  • Brian October 9, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Hey Herbie, you forgot the most important question: Can we abandon Common Core altogether and still get federal funding? Nothing but crickets. That’s what I thought. As a follow-up question: Why the @#$%^&*( do we send all our money to the feds in the first place, and get back a much smaller portion with massive strings attached? With the exception of Constitutional human rights (the states can’t promote slavery, murder, etc) the states and the people in them should have control over how their kids are educated. Who cares more about your kids, you or some corrupt politician 2,500 miles away and the unions that line his pockets?

    • Bobber October 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm

      The whole state’s rights thing is cute in theory, but in practice most state politicians are just too inept/corrupt to keep things in order. Herbert is a perfect example of this…

      • Brian October 10, 2014 at 8:26 am

        I’ve never understood the tendency to hold local and state elected officials feet to the, but give elected officials in DC a pass because we don’t know them and aren’t paying attention. DC politicians are MORE inept and MORE corrupt, have more to gain and face less accountability. Have you been paying attention to our country AT ALL at any time in the last decade? Or is all of your time and energy spent on bashing the local religion on local news sites, and there’s just none left over to pay attention to what’s going on at the national level?

        • Bobber October 10, 2014 at 11:53 am

          I blame the republicans for the most part. They are far and away the more corrupt group in DC, and If Utah politicians had this sovereignty they’re always pining for the state would be turned into one big giant mine and waste dump. And religious nuttery clouds people’s judgement, makes them oblivious to reality. That’s a fact.

  • betcha October 9, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I absolutely agree, I’m so proud of our state, our policies, and when the Government comes in and forces it’s will onto our state, this is so wrong. Common Core has already lost it’s reputation, the new teachers coming in are Liberal in their thinking and teaching sex seems to be their top agenda, goes with the Common Core teachings. Dumb down the kids, keep the women bare foot and pregnant.

    • Lance October 10, 2014 at 8:14 am

      This is due to progressive dumbing down, education majors are not the cream of the crop in the first place, and for decades the people running the system are chosen on what they are – race, sex – rather than what they have accomplished. The products of stupider and stupider are running the system, it is no wonder American students cannot compete with other countries’ students in test scores, or get jobs.

  • MrSmith October 9, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Great. Now we can produce the robots of tomorrow. I don’t understand the emphasis on making 10 year olds prepared for the work force. This is not what the work force is demanding. The workforce is demanding more free-thinking engineers. There are plenty of minimum wage robots. All of the kids that will be taught to meet the standard will do just that. They will meet the standard. The common core says they are teaching kids to think objectively and read for understanding which is great but why set a standard level of achievement? Why allow teachers to be burdened with measurements of how many of the students meet the standard? Why not set the standard as being the very most that a child can achieve? Their responses will be that it cannot be done without leaving children behind. Thus you have public school and thus you will have the future work force of America. Parents need to do just what the Governor is asking them to do and Educate themselves and then take their kids somewhere else besides public school.

  • Brian Homerguy October 9, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I thought this was settled a long time ago with the Scopes Monkey Trial.

  • Maritza October 9, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    I’m with Brian on this one. Common core is making kids stupid the whole idea of it ridiculous!!!!!!!!!

    • Idealwiththecommoncoreeveryday October 10, 2014 at 4:40 am

      You have no idea what you are talking about…

  • lissy October 9, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    I am a mother of a first grade in dual immersion. I am in the work force, I graduated with honors…..let me tell you….I dread Mondays. That is when the homework packet is sent home. The Common Core may be fine, but the cirriculum is making me want to pull my eyballs out through my nostrils. I stress over 1st grade homework. It is all a game. I want my kid to be able to do math without needing to carry around a small spiral notepad to draw 90 circles on and then circle those circles in groups of 30. So please, unless you have to deal with this stupid common core crap….don’t comment here. We have politicians who can’t balance a budget much less a checkbook telling us how to teach our kids crap math. Some households have two parents working and can’t spend hours on end trying to figure out this stuff. I am not alone either. Every mom in my neighborhood has had it.

    • Idealwiththecommoncoreeveryday October 10, 2014 at 4:37 am

      Totally understand your frustration; however, that much homework, math binder, etc isn’t due to common core. It’s your teachers teaching philosophy. Not all dual immersion or regular classrooms have that much homework. Research the proper amount of homework per grade per night (1st grade is 20 minutes) Call the other dual immersion schools, talk to the teachers see what their homework philosophy is, and class sizes. Go to your teacher, complain, go to the principal, complain. Ask how much homework the other 1st grade kids in the school have. YOU are educated, smart and the advocate for your child. During the meeting with the teacher and principal, tell them you will set the timer Monday through Thursday night for the appropriate time and after it goes off, you are finished with homework. Write on the homework, how much time you spent. And send the homework back incomplete. Tell them you are ready to drop out if this continues. I bet your child’s class is over crowded too 🙁 the reason is because the states philosophy is that they need to stack the lower grades because children drop out, and because no new children are added after 2nd grade, when the kids get to 5th, class sizes will be manageable. Band your neighbors together and refuse to allow this, it is not though out the district. Get a carpool together and transfer if you are still not happy after you’ve respectfully done what you can. Good luck and I hope you have some resolution. DLI is a great program, just new in the district so a little overwhelming for teachers, parents and kids… But the common core is not what is causing your frustration 🙂

  • lissy October 9, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    And Bobber….what about students rights or parents rights? Good God I could give a flying …* about the state or federal governments rights when it comes to my kid. And yes…. I would be willing to fork out money from my own pocket to get this straightened out.
    Ed. ellipsis: …*

    • Bobber October 10, 2014 at 5:39 pm

      Ya the CC is a joke and stuff like the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND also a joke. Some children are just born dumb, and we need to accept that and lower our expectations for lots of kids…fact of life…

  • Eppie October 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    To learn why CC is not good for our students or our country from a pedagogical view watch this 54 minute video.
    This is possibly the best and most thoroughly researched anti-Common Core
    presentation to date.

  • Pinky October 9, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    How does the government tell us what the common core is? when they have no common sense. Last I heard from the government they said boys should marryboys and girls should marry girls. Gettem done!

    • Dana October 10, 2014 at 9:06 am

      False. The government DID NOT say “boys should marry boys and girls should marry girls.” Get your facts straight. Your ignorance is showing. Are you the product of the FAILING Utah educational system?

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