Thoughts on Governor’s letter on Utah Core Standards


Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, UEA PresidentDear UEA Members:

I have learned that there has been discussion over the past couple of weeks between Governor Herbert, Lt. Governor Cox, and leadership on the State Board about how to address ongoing concerns with testing as well as continual criticism of the Board’s implementation of the Utah Core Standards. I can imagine these are similar to the many discussions I have had with legislators, State Board members, superintendents and teachers throughout the state. These conversations seem to have culminated in a letter sent from the Governor to the Board. I anticipate this will be an additional agenda item at the next State School Board meeting being held on Friday, May 13.

I’ve been given a copy of the Governor’s letter which I’m attaching here. I would just like to add my thoughts.

I’m anxious for the ongoing and unproductive battle over the Common Core to be over. As many of the anti-Common Core people now openly state, “It’s not about the standards.” As most of you know, we’ve already made numerous changes to the math standards this year, and the ELA standards are due for revision this year and next. I think we have what the Governor calls uniquely Utah standards, but if the request from the Governor can help us “move beyond the anti- Common Core rhetoric,” then that’s a great thing.

The UEA supported Rep. Poulson’s legislation to remove SAGE scores from teacher evaluations and also to allow the ACT to replace SAGE in the 11th grade. The Governor’s offer to ask the Legislature, during the May special session, to remove the mandate of SAGE in high school may be a welcome change. I know many of you are using the SAGE formative assessment tools so we must be cognizant of this as we move forward. Having said that, removing the mandate and allowing more local control is never a bad thing, and this is something the Governor has consistently championed.

I appreciate the Governor’s recognition in his letter of the need for more resources for teacher training and curriculum development, as well as the need to listen more to teachers and administrators about the needs and difficulties in their classrooms. I will be anxious to see what comes of this discussion at the State School Board meeting next week. I hope as educators we will reach out to our fellow teachers, administrators, State School Board members and local board members to give feedback on these changes prior to the meeting. I appreciate your professionalism and what you bring every day to Utah classrooms. Thank you!


Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh
UEA President

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