There’s plenty of controversy floating around the state regarding education and Common Core. People of good will and good conscience can and will disagree about important matters, but before people make their criticisms, I hope they’ll consider some questions.

Can you identify if you’re criticizing the standards themselves, the implementation of the standards,or the state tests developed for these standards? You may be directing your frustration against the wrong people or organization.

Can you tell the difference between specific standards in the older Utah core curriculum and the current Common Core curriculum? You may be criticizing standards that have been around much longer than this controversy has.

Can you explain why state-level development of education standards is superior to multi-state development? You may be unaware that the state of Utah as a whole has as much diversity as much of the rest of the country — a student in West Valley may have more in common with a student in Los Angeles than he has with a student in Monticello.

I’m not claiming that Common Core standards are perfect, or that their implementation in this state has been successful, or that the end-of-level testing has been effective. But if we’re going to have a meaningful conversation about how to improve education in Utah, it’s got to be based on careful thinking and reasoning that avoids misinformation and inconsistency. I hope that’s something we can all agree on.

Brian Ellingford