Gov. Herbert: An Education Action Figure?

Gov. Herbert Press ConferenceToday, Gov. Herbert held a press conference to address the concerns he has heard regarding public education and to present a plan of action.  The plan outlined three principles:

  1. Maintaining high academic standards in all subjects.
  2. Monitoring and limiting the federal government’s role in education.
  3. Preserving state and local control, including in curriculum, testing, and instructional practices.

His plan includes:

First, a legal review by the Attorney General’s Office into questions regarding federal entanglements associated with the adoption of the Common Core and our No Child Left Behind waiver.

Second, a review of the standards themselves from Utah experts.  The Governor has tapped Dr. Rich Kendell, a former university president, school district superintendent, and education advisor to Governor Leavitt to lead a committee to examine the standards.  This committee will also include: Matt Holland, the President of the Utah Valley University; Rob Brems from Utah’s College of Applied Technology, Elizabeth Hitch a Utah Higher Education Associate Commissioner, and Alan Hall of Grow Utah Ventures to represent the business community.

Dr. Kendell’s committee will also examine feedback given on the website: http://www.utah.gov/governor/standards/. This website is open to all Utahns to comment on the current standards.   The survey will be available until August 31st.

Finally, the Governor highlighted concerns he has heard about the implementation of the standards and the need for more professional development availability for teachers.

In a side note the Governor also mentioned concerns about computer adaptive testing and privacy issues surrounding student data, and resolved to work with stakeholders to smooth the bumps in the road, and work toward specific legislation to address any problems.

A few thoughts on the plan

Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah)
Governor Gary Herbert (R-Utah)

Every governor aims to be the “Education Governor.”  Again and again, we have seen the creation of committees, task forces, and commissions under the Governor’s office to study the issues surrounding education.  There is a lot of talking, but not a lot of actual action.

This feels different.

The words “Common Core” are toxic.  They have come to encompass so much more than the “Common Core” actually is.  It seems there is a myth out there that by unadopting the Common Core all the education ills in Utah will be resolved.  That is wrong.

So let’s take a step back and address the specific issues.  One by one.  Without the talking past each other.

The education community has been clamoring all over the place for years, and has not seemed to make any headway in uniting people.  The anti-Common Core advocates have been rallying around the state for years, and have not seemed to make any headway in enacting their desires.  Maybe what is missing is a catalyst.  A leader.  Someone in the fray, but out of the fray.

Maybe it is the timing, maybe it is me in my own mental exhaustion grasping for hope, maybe I am wrong.  But maybe this proposal today is exactly what we need to move forward and stop spending our time looking back.

Maybe Governor Herbert really will be the “Education Governor”.

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