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Activists Decry Common Core at State Office of Ed

Anti-Common Core activists and state education officials reached an impasse today when they tried to resolve their differences over Utah’s newly adopted education standards. 

Activists rallied outside the State Office of Education Friday morning to re-affirm their opposition to the Common Core which the state adopted in 2010.  Christel Swasey is a teacher and parent.

“I’m very concerned about the data collection," Swasey said. "I’m concerned about the illegitimacy of the standards; the lies that are being told. They say the standards are more rigorous but in fact they take away calculus. They reduce classic literature.”

All of these arguments were repeated during the public comment period of Friday’s board meeting.

But the overriding concern was a sense that Utah is losing control of education to the federal government.

That’s something education officials deny. State School Board Chair Debra Roberts said Utah’s hands are not tied. She argued the Common Core is simply an outline of what Utah students need to know to graduate from high school and succeed in college.

“We defend our right to choose our own standards," Roberts said. "We defend our right to make sure those standards are what is right for our children”

About half the group filed into a meeting room for an impromptu meeting with State Superintendent Martel Menlove. Hoping to set the record straight once and for all, he fielded questions for nearly two hours from the eager assembly.

“How much control is the federal government holding over us here?", one woman asked.

Menlove said Utah receives hundreds of millions of federal dollars but that has little to do with the Common Core.

“The amount of federal dollars we get is not contingent on whether we adopt Common Core or not," Menlove said. "The amount of reporting that we do to Washington DC is not contingent upon whether we adopt Common Core or not.”

The conversation digressed quickly when it was apparent the two-sides couldn’t agree on most fronts.

Protestors say they’re still looking for an open debate on the Common Core, moderated by a third party. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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