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Rolly: Sen. Aaron Osmond has drunk the Kool-Aid
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sen. Aaron Osmond appears to have drunk the Kool-Aid.

The South Jordan Republican entered the Legislature upon the resignation of right-wing stalwart Chris Buttars and at first seemed to be a breath of fresh air, with enthusiasm, understanding and a willingness to hear all sides of an issue.

He was obviously conservative and pushed proposals undoubtedly aimed at the Utah Education Association, a favorite target of the right wing. But he was willing to listen to educators and other stakeholders concerned about a move that would basically do away with collective bargaining for teachers, and reach some compromises.

Still, he bought into the right-wing ideology that Common Core, a multistate-produced set of educational standards, was an Obama-led plot to undermine Utah values.

At the same time, he pushed for funding to extend universal preschool for at-risk children, which indicated he was looking at education issues through a thoughtful, not completely ideological, eye.

But now, like his predecessor Buttars, he has become a tool for the Utah Eagle Forum and like-minded extremists.

Osmond created some controversy recently by posting an essay on the Utah Senate blog site that advocated doing away with compulsory education in Utah. He argued that in a nation founded on the principles of liberty and freedom, parents should not be forced to put their children into schools under threat of fines or jail.

If you think his ideas were cloned from the rhetoric of the anti-public-education voices swirling through the halls of the Utah Legislature for years, well ... they were.

Osmond's essay was nearly identical to an earlier piece he co-authored with Oak Norton, executive director of Agency Based Education and a consistent ranter against the "socialization" of public education.

Norton used to be a regular on Red Meat Radio, the Saturday morning talk show co-hosted by two conservative Draper lawmakers, Sen. Howard Stephenson and Rep. Greg Hughes. Norton's consistent theme on the show was that the Alpine School District in Utah County was trying to turn all of its students into socialists.

He has joined with the Eagle Forum's Gayle Ruzicka, American Leadership Fund founder Cherilyn Eagar and other conspiracy theorists to try to repeal Common Core, arguing it would dictate curriculum. It would not. Common Core sets goals in basic skills like math and language arts to be met by students.

Eagar, like Norton, always reminds recipients of her emails and newsletters to donate to her cause, and Wednesday, she invited legislators to a meeting at the Capitol to learn about all the evils of Common Core.

Several legislators have hinted they didn't want to attend, but felt if they didn't they could be targeted by the right wing in their respective conventions next year when they run for re-election.

Sen. Brian Shiozawa, R-Cottonwood Heights, said it all Wednesday during the Interim Economic Development and Workforce Services Committee meeting. He asked those in attendance to keep asking questions so the committee meeting would run late and he would have an excuse to miss Eagar's anti-Common Core revival.

prolly@sltrib.com

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