December 14, 2020
Did you know that you can weigh in on what educators are required to teach your students?
More specifically, you can weigh in on the academic standards created by the state board. And next year you can add your input for the K-6 social studies standards.
Academic standards set out state-level guideposts for what teachers need to cover in class and, correspondingly, what students need to be able to know and do at the end of a course.
It’s not a secret in Utah that standards have been a highly controversial policy (think Common Core). But the good news is the public can weigh in on the standards periodically.
How? Through the standards revision process overseen by the Utah State Board of Education – a process which happens every few years for our academic standards.
An outline of the standards review process
Like so many processes and mechanisms in government, sometimes civic participation seems intimidating, unknown and only for the politically initiated or elite. But it shouldn’t be that way. If you’d like to get involved in giving public comment, then we encourage all to do so.
Below is a quick timeline of how a standards revision process takes place in the state.
- A standards review is triggered.
- The Utah State Board of Education gives approval for the review to begin.
- The standards review committee members are identified.
- The standards review committee meets to commence its work.
- The standards review committee offers comments and recommendations on the standards.
- The writing committee works on drafting the standards with the received input.
- The draft standards are released to the public with a 90-day public comment period.
- Revisions to the draft standards are implemented.
- The full Utah State Board of Education receives the draft standards and offers feedback.
- The full board gives final review of the standards.
An upcoming 2021 opportunity
This process is underway for Utah’s K-6 Social Studies Core Standards. Right now, the standards are being drafted by the writing committee. Once members of the public are given notice, they have 90 days to read the drafts and offer comments.
Knowledge is power. Parents can learn more about what’s being taught in schools by knowing the political and civic processes that impact them and their students. We invite parents across the state to learn and to give their input.
Being truly educated means understanding one of the most powerful forces in the world: religion. Being a truly educated American means understanding the importance of protecting that force: freedom of religion.
The Washington model illustrates that by recognizing potential conflicts and enacting appropriate accommodations, schools can do their work without unnecessarily infringing the religious exercise of students. It is a model other states, including Utah, should follow.
Caring for children and families in vulnerable situations is an undoubted public priority, and everyone willing to provide good-faith help is needed.