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Common Core Fight Rages, Misinformation Reigns

A new poll sponsored by shows most Utahns do not understand where the Common Core comes from or what it does. Meanwhile, proponents continue to defend the education standards against what they say is false information and unfounded fears about federal intrusion.

Orem Republican Representative Dana Layton sponsored a bill during the 2014 general session that would have axed the Common Core in favor of Utah-developed standards. She says her constituents were concerned the state had surrendered control of education to the federal government. But after learning more information about the standards, she changed direction-calling instead for more parental involvement in evaluating the standards. Many of her constituents were not pleased. Layton lost her seat in this year's primary election. She blames her loss, in part, on that decision.

“There are two very disparate stories being told,” Layton says. “One is it’s a federal takeover of educational standards and the other is it’s a state led, national governor’s association, the feds had nothing to do with it. The two stories are incompatible that I don’t think people know what to believe.”

The poll conducted by Dan Jones and Associates shows only 21 percent of those polled understand the math and English standards were developed by state governors and education leaders. Many believe the standards were created by the federal government and states were either forced or convinced to adopt them. 

But State School Board Member Debra Roberts says the number one misunderstanding about Common Core is the definition of what standards are.

“Somehow they relate it standards of behavior or standards of morals when it has absolutely to do with that,” Roberts says. “They are benchmarks of what a child needs to know and be able to do in language arts and math at each particular year to be college and career ready when they graduate from high school.”

Roberts says there is a process through which the state can make changes to or improve upon the Common Core standards if need be.  The Utah Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010. 

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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