Utah GOP convention agenda includes vote on Common Core

Published: Wednesday, May 15 2013 5:20 p.m. MDT

"Common Core raises academic rigor to new heights for the state of Utah," he said. "The standards were designed to push students and teachers to higher levels of achievement, helping students be truly ready for college or (for a) career."

Following the passage of the State School Board's resolutions, board vice-chairman David Crandall said the board had acted out of a desire to provide clarity on the many misconceptions surrounding the Core. He said much of the confusion stems from a misunderstanding of what the Common Core standards are, in that many falsely assume that federal powers will dictate the day-to-day decisions of a classroom.

"How the individual districts implement that and what specific readings they have (students) do, what books they have and what they include in their curriculum are completely up to the local school districts and charter schools," Crandall said. "Ultimately, what it comes down to is we want students to be career and college ready."

But Eagar, a former educator, said she and the thousands of Utahns who have signed petitions against the Common Core hold no such misconceptions.

"I believe that the standards are lowered standards. I don’t believe, I know; I have seen them," she said. "The mere fact that the State Board felt the need to create a counter-resolution in their own body would indicate that they are well-aware that we are moving forward and have great momentum."

Eagar said Congressman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, is planning to speak in favor of her resolution during Saturday's convention. Common Core opponents also plan to distribute a brochure to delegates with supporting signatures from the remaining Republican members of Utah's federal delegation.

She said her biggest concern is not that support for the resolution is insufficient, but whether time will allow for a vote to be held at all.

"As these conventions typically go, it is never quite certain that the delegates will have the patience to stick around for the resolutions, which are typically tacked on to the end of the agenda," she said.

That same impatience could also potentially work in favor of Common Core opponents. With delegate turnout at organizing conventions significantly lower than election-year nominating conventions, and with indifferent delegates feeling the pull of weekend recreation, impassioned voters could find themselves winning the war of attrition as the convention drags on.

Ivan DuBois, executive director of the Utah Republican Party, said organizing conventions are typically attended by 50 to 60 percent of the state's delegates, compared to the near-perfect turnout at nominating conventions. DuBois said attendance is always a concern and party leaders will do what they can to keep Saturday's meeting moving quickly.

"We want everyone to attend but we can’t make them attend," he said. "The more people who are there to vote the more representative it is."

In discussing the unfavorable recommendation by the reviewing committee, Dunn was adamant that the committee's action was in no way binding and committee members would not lobby delegates to vote one way or the other.

"These delegates are going to do exactly what they want to do," she said.

But she also said the role of the committee is to shed some light on the measures being considered by the party.

"We want to protect the party from the embarrassment of passing a resolution that contains information that is not factual," he said. "So it’s our responsibility to let the party know that."

When asked about Eagar's resolution during Wednesday's meeting of the Education Interim Committee, State School Board Chairwoman Debra Roberts told lawmakers that the Common Core had been properly vetted and determined to be a benefit to Utah schools.

"I’m concerned that there’s so much misinformation and so much chatter about something that should be viewed as an opportunity to move forward," she said. "I would hope that on Saturday wiser heads would prevail."

Eagar said that independent of whether the resolution succeeds or fails, Core opponents will continue to push for a total state withdrawal through legislative lobbying or polling pressure during the next State School Board election. The state adopted the Common Core in 2010 and as Eagar sees it, the fight is far from over.

"Regardless of what happens with this resolution we know that we have an enormously growing momentum and we will continue to keep going forward," she said. "Certainly there will be some legislative response and so we will be working on that."

The Common Core resolution is currently one of four scheduled to be considered at the convention, including another submitted by Eagar on the subject of Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act. The full text of the resolutions is available on the Utah Republican Party website.

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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