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Herbert Says Common Core Controversy Not Helping Students, Calls For Alternatives

Brian Grimmett
Gov. Gary Herbert speaks with delegates at the Utah Republican Party State Convention

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says now is a good time to consider changing or replacing the Common Core State Standards and eliminating the SAGE testing mandate for high school students. It’s a seemingly drastic shift away from his long-time efforts to defend the core against critics.

Since Utah adopted the Common Core standards in 2010, Utah Governor Gary Herbert has worked to resolve the misconceptions and controversy surrounding them. Here’s what he’s said over the years:

“Lately, all the sudden people say oh my gosh, what’s going on here? Common Core, I’m concerned about this. Obama is taking over federalization of our state education. Kind of fear mongering.”

“They tried to make it into something that it was not. It was a distortion with some half-truths and innuendo’s and it caught hold.”

“It’s not a federal program. It’s a state driven, governor driven aspiration of a common goal for the state’s to have.”

But in a letter addressed to the state school board Wednesday, the governor encouraged the public to come up with alternative standards or suggest improvements. He said the conflict, discord and divisiveness associated with the standards is not helping students.

Herbert’s Republican gubernatorial opponent Jonathan Johnson has repeatedly called for an end to the Common Core. He said in a statement after two terms as Governor, Herbert is finally quote “getting it.” “However”, Johnson added, “this is too little, too late.”

State School Board Chair Dave Crandall says the letter indicates Herbert has not changed his mind about the content of the Common Core standards.   

“He’s been open to feedback on specific standards and problems people might have with that,” Crandall says. “But I think the Common Core in general, it’s come to mean anything that people don’t like about public education.”

In 2014, Herbert launched a review of the academic standards, which found that they’re stronger than what Utah had previously. Herbert also directed Utah’s Attorney General to study the issue, asking if the state had lost any local control of education to the federal government and the answer was “no”.  

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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