REVEALED: Head of Herbert’s Common Core Review Committee Has Huge Conflict of Interest

UPDATE: Kendell’s letter has now been sent to the Board, and includes the names of dozens of businesspeople and local school board members. See the letter here.

Two weeks ago, Governor Herbert called for a “review of our existing [education] standards to make sure they truly prepare our students for college and careers.” As part of that, Herbert organized a committee tasked with the review, and appointed as its chair one Dr. Rich Kendell, “a former university president, school district superintendent, and education advisor to former Governor Mike Leavitt.”

“He has a unique perspective,” Herbert added, “that will guide a comprehensive examination of the standards.”

Evidently that “unique perspective” includes an existing bias and behind-the-scenes advocacy that violates any semblance of independence or impartiality in the review Kendell has been charged with leading. The Governor also said, “I don’t want to presuppose the outcome of this review,” but perhaps Kendell already has.

Libertas Institute obtained an email written on July 30, 2014, by Dr. Kendell, addressed to Patti Harrington, Associate Executive Director of the Utah School Board Association (USBA) and Executive Director of the Utah School Superintendents Association (USSA). It includes a drafted letter (view the PDF here) and this text:

Patti, Attached is the final letter. Please collect e-mail endorsements, letters from USBA, and letters/motions from USSA. Once you have everything I will work out a way to have them delivered to the right person. thanks. we are making headway. Rich kendell

The “final letter” notes at the bottom that it “will be signed by 30-50 business leaders and chairs of local school boards,” and is addressed to “Members of the Utah State Board of Education.” Kendell’s intent is to deliver the letter prior to the Board’s meeting next week, during which it will decide whether or not to renew the “ESEA I Flexibility Waiver”—an exemption from some of the required standards under “No Child Left Behind” that effectively obligates the state to incorporate Common Core.

The letter contains several reasons why Kendell and others believe the Board should seek a continuation of the waiver, and thus remain bound by the associated obligations and mandates of the federal government.

This, of course, is a significant conflict of interest for an individual tasked with a “comprehensive examination” of Common Core. But Kendell is also an adviser to Prosperity 2020, a group that has publicly and actively advocated for the Common Core standards, and through that outlet has himself championed these standards.

Kendell also has connections to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation—the primary financier of the Common Core standards—having previously obtained and used a $3.6 million grant from them.

What does all of this mean? It can mean only one thing, really: we expect little in the way of fairness and impartiality from Kendell, and by implication, the committee he has been tasked with overseeing.

If the Governor was sincerely interested in an impartial review, his committee would be comprised not merely of insiders and establishment educrats who clearly promote (publicly and behind the scenes) a specific outcome, but also of individuals who have differing opinions, no connections to the Governor, and those whose track records suggest a reasonable amount of impartiality in the investigation and subsequent outcome.

  • Brad Caldwell

    So are you asking the Governor to load the Committee with Common Core haters? The common core is a great set of standards. 
    If I were parents I would get behind it. It is much better than the standards we use to have in Utah. The teachers are actually using it whereas before you couldn’t find a curriculum tied to the Utah State Standards so we were teaching from books aligned to Texas, New York or California standards for which we had no control. The Common Core is a great thing… now If you don’t like the curriculum your school district is using then that is a district level decision and you should contact your local school district representative.

  • sokkertrapp

    Brad Caldwell Really Brad?  Seriously?  Because the teachers have a curriculum it makes Common Core “a great thing”…that’s the most asinine justification for implementing this type of program I’ve ever heard.  I’ve seen Common Core at work, and anyone with half a brain (Brad?) would know that it is another heavy-handed Federal approach to mandating exactly what teachers teach and how they teach it.  Education should be handled on the local and state level, not as another huge overreach by the Feds.

  • Brad Caldwell

    sokkertrapp Brad Caldwell Not sure who you are but the Common Core is the farthest thing from a Federal mandate as anything I have seen. The federal government had nothing to do with its creation, thank goodness. The creation of the common core was lead by the states governor and chief school officers (superintendents). It was funded in one of the greatest public/private partnerships of all time. There was no Federal funding. After it was created the Federal government screwed up and tried to tie race to the top money and some other programs to it. This was a horrible example of federal overreach and should be fought against! Personally I think the Common Core has proven that we don’t need the federal government nor the USDOE to do great things. The states can handle it. In this case a coalition of the states handled it. 
    The common core is a great set of standards. It is not a curriculum! It opens up the door for smaller populated states like Utah to have a say and a choice in those curriculums. Anyone with half a brain (@sokkertrapp) should be able to see the positives that come from adopting such a great set of standards. 
    A few of them are…
    1- Parents know what should be taught, can follow along with their children and insure that they are learning those things that they need to know for college and success in life. 
    2- Parents can hold the establishment accountable if the correct standards are not being taught. 
    3- Teachers know what they should be teaching and can be held accountable for that teaching. 
    I could go on but I am sure since you have half a brain that you will be able to see the benefits on your own.

  • sokkertrapp

    Brad Caldwell sokkertrapp For one thing you act like an educator,,,but you can’t even spell ensure correctly,,,that’s what’s wrong with our educational system…we allow for stupidity to reign supreme.  As for it not being a federal mandate…bs.  The Feds formed the group that spearheaded this program…doesn’t matter who was involved…the Feds mandated it.  Maybe you should do some research idiot.

  • Brad Caldwell

    sokkertrapp Brad Caldwell LMAO. Not an educator but a very involved parent. BTW… Ensure is the drink for old people. Insure… well you should look it up in a dictionary. You absolutely prove why the common core is needed. I have done my research and found that the this was not a Federal idea nor a mandate. There is nothing to your grand conspiracy. Now… I am not sure who you are but if you would like to reveal your true identity it would be nice then I could put some credibility behind your idiot comment. Right now I am assuming that you are just plain rude… BTW… Go ahead and look up insure versus ensure. If you still don’t believe me then purchase some ensure, it might help.

  • rcronk

    Brad Caldwell sokkertrapp My kids are suffering from the effects of common core standards and I have helped them with their math and it is horrific.  So the standards themselves are terrible from what I’ve seen so far.  Beyond that, it’s not federal, but adoption of it IS tied to federal money and it’s a centralization of standards and there’s no way for a parent to object to anything in the standards.  Nobody in charge of it is elected.  It was funded by Bill Gates mainly, not just a bunch of Governers getting together.  Really you should look into more deeply.  Start here:

  • DeeDee1998

    Brad Caldwell sokkertrapp
    I have yet to find an educator who is in love with common core. As an educator myself I dislike all of it. Parents can’t follow along, that is BS. All the programs are designed to teach children a global idea and indoctrinate the children with very little, if any at all, parent involvement. CC will separate children early on and raise criminals because from low grades on they are told they are not college material. CC is East Germans curriculum warmed up.

  • RaeLynne

    @rcronk Brad Caldwell sokkertrapp I talked with my children’s favorite 6th grade teacher just yesterday.  She is really struggling with Common Core.  She is a veteran teacher and one of those teachers that made a difference and continues to make a difference.   I am concerned we have become so defensive, critical and nasty about Common Core that we are missing the fact that the children are suffering.  The teachers are suffering.  Whether you like or do not like Common Core, there is a real problem. And, it will greatly impact this nation.  I believe we will see the negative impact in the next 3-5 years.   I have decided to pull my soon to be 9th grader out of the public school system and home school him.  I really appreciate the youtube video!  It gave me another resource for homeschooling.  With that said, I still feel a responsibility to help be a part of a solution to the problem and not add to the problem.  Being nasty to those who have a different view point will not solve any problems.  I believe we can all make Utah a great place to educate our children.

  • David Eldredge

    Common Core is a most controversial issue and not understood by many. I’ve been following Common Core for the past couple years and bottom line, Common Core is not best for the states and surely not best for the future of our rising generations. States are enticed by federal funding selling their birthright for a mess of pottage. I fear all Gov. Herbert sees is $$$

  • OakNorton

    Brad Caldwell 
    Wow. You still believe CC was lead by the NGA and CCSSO?
    Have you ever really looked into this? It was Bill Gates who went to them and
    gave them $20 million to support the idea. It wasn’t one of the “greatest
    public/private partnerships of all time.” It was Bill Gates fulfilling a
    contract he signed with UNESCO in 2004 to create a global education system, and
    to consolidate the market so Gates could profit along with the publishers he
    was funding like Pearson. The feds didn’t screw it up after the fact, they just
    came out in the open after it was done and said what great work they’d done.
    Judy Park at the USOE and others said how involved they were in the process,
    but Judy didn’t even know who was on the drafting committee of the standards
    until they were completed. How’s that for “state led?” It’s sheer nonsense. It
    wasn’t a coalition of states that came together, otherwise it would have been
    an open and public process. It was never “internationally benchmarked” and the
    top math and English people on the validation committees refused to sign off
    because of how screwed up the standards were, particularly in older levels. You’re
    quite the apologist for the CCSS.

  • Brad Caldwell

    OakNorton Brad Caldwell Oak… I have no problem with bettering the standards we have. The whole movement around throwing out the standards because people like Bill Gates got involved is where I see the nonsense. If I had my way education would be a much more discovering process and much less regimented. Students would advance once they have mastered certain skills and shown a knack for certain behaviors. When a student could perform certain tasks with math then they could move on. I am talking about real world type of engineering and understanding of how their math is applied rather than rote memorization. 
    If we are going to have standards and test/compare students, schools. districts  and states on those standards then they had better be common across the board. If I had 20 million to blow I would have jumped behind the movement because I have seen what not having common standards can do. Not having common standards creates opportunity for criticism of education by those in political office who want to whip and not fund adequately  an institution year after year after year. It allows for our children to learn from curriculum not aligned to our chosen set of standards, take a test that is standards aligned and then be compared against students who have been taught using curriculum that is standards aligned. This has been going on in Utah for 100 years but when an initiative to bring a set of standards that are common is set forth those very parents and legislators who want true accountability and profess to know how to fix education come out against it. 
    I have heard Bill Gates speak about how confused he is by the conspiracy theorists and why they would think that his donation was anything but above board and an honest helpful donation. I think he was very sincere. Does he invest in other companies and other causes, sure. Are their some I disagree with, Sure. Do I like the way most curriculums are headed with math.. Yep… Because is causes our kids to think outside of the norm and this is good for us as a society. The way we learned math was dull, boring and did not push me to want to learn, discover invent etc. I want to know what a kid can do with math… not what they can regurgitate. 
    Now.. You are a good guy who is trying to pull anyone who doesn’t agree with you down into the bucket. You know.. The crab in the bucket story, right. Quit it. I am not going to play that game and I do happen to like you.

  • George

    Brad Caldwell sokkertrapp
    Just looked it up
    1. to secure or guarantee: This letter ensure you a hearing. 
    2. to make sure or certain: measures to ensure the success of an undertaking. make secure or safe, as from harm.
    Maybe you should look it up before
    you tell people they are wrong.

  • Bobbe

    OAK NORTON is correct about Gates hiring the little cadre of people who came up with it.  The copyright for the standards is shared by (NOT the NGA but) The NGA Center for Best Practices Education Division (8 people) and the CCSSO.  “The Center” is a cadre that runs the NGA.  There are more people in The Center than there are governors. They plan the meetings, choose the speakers, they are really helpful.  In fact they will advise your key advisors.  They will set up your office in your state capitol, hire your staff, set up your communications.  REALLY HELPFUL! (Their basic premise is “So you got elected, you don’t know how to be a governor.  So we’ll tell you.)  They tell the governors about all the stimulus money available to them to balance their state budgets.  They are vague about the strings attached, like RTTP applications which offer a waiver of NCLB in return for accepting a new set of standards sight unseen (they weren’t written yet) EVEN IF you never saw a dime of RTTP funding.)  They tell governors about the lucrative appointments that will come their way if they successfully implement progressive programs.  Common Core was implemented without benefit of legislators, in Congress or at state level.  All it took was an Executive Order by a governor brainwashed by The Center and greedy for fed $$$.  
    The real proof is that the assessments are federally mandated.  The teachers teach it because they’re rated by how well the students spew back the progressive cant on the assessments.  AND if a school fails to assess 95% or its students, they lose that federal funding.  That’s one reason for opting out; another is:  The assessments don’t just asses what is learned academically.  One assessment given to 5th graders sounded like the nosy questions on the last census.  How many bathrooms in your house?  Do you use flow limiters in the showers?  What kind of fuel heats your home? (Sounds like the EPA doing a carbon footprint assessment.)  Is there a gun in your home?   Now how is that about academics?  Assessments assess more than 400 data points about students.  The goal is to determine what the child will become for the good of the public/private partnership.  [It’s a way to find unregistered firearms, and the government uses children to do their investigating.  Sich Heil!]  
    [Did I mention The Center also has a Medical Division?  Now do you know why your governor, regardless of party, implemented ObamaCare?]
    If you want to know the Why? of Common Core check out this site:

  • Pingback: Stop the Herbert Charade: Vote Johnathan Johnson for Governor | COMMON CORE()