A Note From Tami Pyfer

Recently, we received this comment from Tami Pyfer on our blog:

“This video was eye-opening – most states have mechanisms for alternative testing for students with disabilities and I’m wondering why NC does not.

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards. Standards do not equal assessments. Standards do not equal curriculum. Standards are simply minimum expectations for what a student will learn at each grade level. Some students may achieve more, and some students – especially those with disabilities – may learn less. Effective educational programs will accommodate for both ends of the spectrum. A state may have one adopted set of standards/expectations for all of the schools in the state, but in many (most?) states, the curriculum is left up to the individual schools. In our state, we’ve had minimum standards for decades. Setting the standards and developing the state assessments are the responsibility of the State Board of Education, while the curriculum is developed/designed/adopted by local school districts and charter schools. We also have a completely separate assessment system for students with disabilities like the child in this video.

Lumping the Common Core State Standards in with the inappropriate assessment practices tied with No Child Left Behind and highlighted in this video, doesn’t make sense, although it’s a common tactic being used by people who don’t understand how different states are/are not implementing the Common Core standards. Unfortunately, waiving the anti-Common Core flag is simply a distraction to the (worthy) battle you are waging for the appropriate use, and not misuse of assessment in our schools.”

We did not approve the comment on the blog, and the next day, we received an email from her asking why the comment was not showing up.  I did not approve her message to appear on our blog because something felt funny to me.

When Tami wrote to us again, Zoe and I did a bit of research on Tami Pyfer, and we found a BLOG with an email correspondence between her and someone concerned about the Common Core being applied in the state of Utah.  Here is the link where you can read more about Tami.

Below is the email correspondence, with Tami’s writing in bold italics and Anissa’s just in italics:

Dear Governor & Board,

It is my understanding that there is a way for Utah to get out of Common Core  so that we are free of any strings attached. The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012.  Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?

Is the Board considering this? Now would be the time to decide. Please discuss this at this Friday’s meeting. Please respond to me with more information.


Anissa Wardell


Personally, I have no intention of unadopting the new math and ELA common core standards. We are already “string free” and it’s unfortunate that some groups feel otherwise.

Tami Pyfer



If we really are string free, would you kindly show proof of that? I have done a great deal of research on my own, outside of those you refer to and from what I can see, we are not string free. The math standards are horrible! I am going to have to pay hundreds of dollars this year alone for my 6th grader so that she will be ready for Algebra. Utah’s math standards were already better and were more understandable than what we have just adopted.

While I have this audience, I also want the Board (and everyone else on the list) to know that as a parent I want cursive writing to stay in our state curriculum.

Please provide all of us evidence to back up your understanding.

Thank you,



I appreciate your passion, but the “evidence” has been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times. Your disagreement with the facts does not change them. I will continue to respond to my constituents who are truly looking for answers to their questions regarding our core standards.

Tami Pyfer



Well thank you Tami. You have not answered my question, and if there is proof I honestly would like to see it. You incorrectly assume that I do not want true answers. If there is this information and it has been provided many times, please tell me where I can find it.

It is answers like yours that are frustrating for constituents. I will continue to ask for answers. I never said we have to agree, I am searching for answers and because you are a board member and you have been entrusted with the mantle to ensure high quality curriculum standards and instruction, and because you are supposed to represent your constituents, I expect you to live up to that.




So, reader, there are many things we could say.  The main and only thing we want to say is that when Tami first wrote to us she did not say who she actually was, and we had a feeling that the comment’s author was someone involved with enforcing Common Core.  Her omission of this fact is why we did not want to approve her comment.  But with the proper context for her comment now clear, we are fine sharing it here.  Zoe and I debated a lot about how to present this or if we should at all.  This is the result.  Definitely food for thought…


6 thoughts on “A Note From Tami Pyfer

  1. Tami response here is very typical. These are the responses constituents get from board members here in Utah quite regularly. Personally, I am very tired of the “just standards” argument. It is truly disingenuous. Board members know that the testing is aligned to the core and that the curriculum is aligned to the core. Bill Gates, who has spent 5 Billion dollars in order to influence public education sure gets that.

    “Fortunately, the state-led Common Core State Standards Initiative is developing clear, rigorous common standards that match the best in the world. Last month, 46 Governors and Chief State School Officers made a public commitment to embrace these common standards.
    This is encouraging—but identifying common standards is not enough. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when the curriculum and the tests are aligned to these standards.
    Secretary Arne Duncan recently announced that $350 million of the stimulus package will be used to create just these kinds of tests—next-generation assessments aligned to the common core.
    When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well—and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large base of customers eager to buy products that can help every kid learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun.”

    Common Core has been a disaster in Utah. Parents and teachers hate it. Teachers are being asked for their support of Common Core IN WRITING. They are afraid for their jobs. Children who have spent years studying traditional math are faltering under a totally un-familiar system. And while they study constructivist math, it’s traditional math that will appear on the SAT and ACT tests for theses students. The Utah State Board has done a real disservice to Utah students and teachers.

    • Dear Tiffany,
      Yes…that is exactly what I felt even before I researched out who she was…there was something decidedly typical and familiar about her tone. The other day we even received an email from someone claiming employment at Pearson…and claiming that Pearson Publishing was filled with dedicated educational professionals committed to the future of public education. Disingenuous is the most friendly adjective I can come up with 🙂

      keep on keeping on and thanks for writing in…let us know if you end up doing anything for Blue Hat Day.

  2. Thank you for posting this exchange. My hope in sharing that exchange in the first place was so others would see through the nonsense that school boards local or state school boards (like Tami), are regurgitating to parents. If there is not proper documentation given, do not accept the answer and move on. believe across this country we have already seen that parents are a great deal more knowledgeable about what has and will happen than most of those who sit on local and state school boards. If parents of special needs kids do not wake up and start making a scene about what is happening, they will soon find their children in unbelievable predicaments, and will have little if any recourse.

  3. Thank you for posting these exchanges. Tami Pyfer was a member of the Utah State School Board for many years but has now been promoted to the Governor’s education advisor. More of her exchanges and evidence of the fact that she wants to cover up problems with Common Core (why the desire for a cover up, I don’t know) –can be found here: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/utahns-discuss-common-core-math/

    One of the Tami Pyfer emails (to her from another state school board member, Dixie Allen, who is also pro-Common Core) actually says this:

    I am a little confused — From your email yesterday I thought you said that you, Brenda and others at USOE had decided we shouldn’t answer any questions from the Anti-Core patrons. Could you please make sure we know what the expectation is for all of us as Board Members. I had tried to answer anyone that was my constituents and some others, as I felt like it was my job as chair of Curriculum and Standards. But we probably need to know what the expectation is in regard to these questionable emails, etc.

  4. Pingback: Common Core High-Stakes Tests and Common Core Standards are Inseparable | COMMON CORE

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