Blog: 18 September 2013

A Letter from a former Utah PTA Education Commissioner Regarding the Core Standards

Dear PTA friends!

When I became the Utah PTA Education Commissioner, I began to learn a lot about the work of the State Office of Education and how their work impacts local schools. I have been particularly interested in the adoption and implementation of the Common Core State Standards. When I heard about them, my first response was, "wait -- is this coming from the federal government? That isn't right. That isn't the role of the federal government!"

Once I learned just where Common Core State Standards have come from, and what they will mean to students in Utah, I became a strong supporter of the standards!

I am concerned now at the growing number of people who jumped to the same first conclusion that I did but instead of studying it out, they are spreading anxiety and misinformation about the standards. I have seen a lot of emails coming from individuals and groups with a battle cry to disassociate with the Common Core Initiative.

I have decided I need to be as active in getting factual information out as they are at circulating misinformation. If these emails have made their way to your inbox, maybe I can answer the questions they are raising. Or, if you haven't seen them yet, maybe I can immunize you from the fear and concerns. The problem is, they can throw out wild, disturbing claims in just a few words. To combat all of them takes a 3-page essay (at least for the claims I have seen thus far) and who wants to sit down and read all that?!

So here is my solution:  I will tell you that the standards Utah public schools have adopted, that are based on Common Core State Standards, are good and will benefit our kids.  Then, if you want to read the details that address the claims of the fear-mongers, I have attached the 3-page essay (plus a summary handout).  I hope you'll want to read it because then if you meet others who are concerned about the standards, you can tell them what you learned from me -- or pass the information I'm providing on to them.

Deon Turley


CI-Newsletter Article

We hope everyone will visit website,  We have partnered with sports teams across Utah for PTA members to receive discounts on those events.  When visiting the website, click on “Come Play With PTA” to see the flyers you can print off and put up in your school with the discount nights and contact information.  If your school wants to do your own sporting event, these teams would love to work with you.

We have made a “Come Play With PTA” video with Nadine Wimmer and Jimmer Fredette for your use at your school.  It is on YouTube under Jimmer PTA.  We hope that this video, along with the Three For Me Program (each volunteer giving at least 3 hours per school year), will help you get volunteers into the school.

As you partner with businesses near you, look on the PTA website under Community Involvement where there are sample letters to ask for donations and a Thank you letter.

The work volunteers do in our schools is very important.  The moral and social climate of our schools revolves around caring relationships.  The addition of volunteers to our schools increases the number of caring relationships in the schools and thus our schools are strengthened.

Volunteers come from many walks and facets of life: parents and community members, senior adults, business and industry representatives, college students and high school students.  Two things all volunteers have in common are time and talents to share and love.

We want to keep track of all volunteer hours from Board meeting, classroom volunteers, school events, travel, training sessions, and home assignments (which includes babysitting for someone else who is volunteering for PTA).  Total volunteer hours from the last school year that were submitted from Utah PTA volunteers were 1,121,000 hours!  

With the Utah volunteer rate at $22.65, in 2015 we gave to Uah schools the equivalent of $25,390,650.00!!


Need Volunteers? Four Programs That Can Help!

We want to have more families involved with their children in the schools. In our PTA Mission Statement are the words, “We want to encourage positive involvement in all facets of a child’s life, by welcoming all families into the school. “ Our goal is that families will be active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class. At National PTA many programs are designed to help us accomplish this. Here are 4 of them.

  1. iMom offers resources designed to equip mothers with the ideas, information, and encouragement they need on a daily basis to help them in their most important job of being a mom. Have a mother daughter activity or breakfast (muffins with mom), a self esteem focused activity, or a fashion night.
  2. All Pro Dad features NFL coaches, players and alumni who speak out about the importance of fatherhood. All Pro Dad gives the men the tools they need to make a difference in the lives of their children and families. Try a Dad and child activity (Donuts with Dad) or a REAL, Jazz, or other sports night. Visit
  3. Watch D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students) focuses on improving education and the prevention of violence in our nation’s schools by using the positive influence of fathers and father-figures and by having fathers present in schools and actively providing a role-model for students at their school. Examples for Watch D.O.G.S. activities might be: read and work on flash cards with students, play at recess, eat lunch with students, watch the school entrances and hallways, assist with traffic flow, and mentor students where needed.
  4. Three for Me is a program designed to help you welcome all families into your school and encourage membership in the nation’s number one parent organization. Parents are encouraged to just give 3 hours at some time during the school year. Visit

When our children are in elementary school, their parents love to come to the school and help out. When they get to Jr. High/Middle School, parents feel like they don’t need to help anymore or that their students don’t need it. The truth is that they need it just as much if not more. Studies have shown that when parents are involved at the school, students do better, there is less bullying, more positive feedback, an extra set of eyes and ears, and that students have better academic performance, self esteem, and social behavior.



Questions? Contact Marilyn Simister, Utah State PTA Community Involvement Commissioner

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