Common Core Standards Have a Common Problem

Thomas photo med_2     Efforts are well underway in 45 states and three territories to implement the new Common Core Standards for educational goals.  These standards are promising, having been developed by governors and educational and corporate leaders across the country.
     Proper implementation of these standards faces an all too common problem…lack of sufficient funding.  According to the Arizona School Board Association and the Arizona Association of School Business Officials, the cost for statewide implementation of the essential elements of Common Core for fiscal year 2014 is estimated at $156.6 million.  This number comes from a survey of districts across the state, representing over 339K students (38% of the total K-12 district population.)
     A breakdown of the costs shows $47.8M to train teachers and other district staff, $96.1M for curriculum material and textbooks, and $12.7M to design and revise district-level student assessments.
     Of course these are just the FY2014 costs.  The costs of additional hardware and software, and associated PARCC assessment of student mastery of the standards will be $205.6M statewide.  In addition, the cost of increasing Internet capacity related to these items will be $24.6M statewide – if they can find it (20% said the may have difficulty with this.)
     This is new money required and doesn’t even begin to address the hole the state legislature has dug for traditional public education in AZ.  Arizona enjoys the dubious honor of leading the nation in per pupil funding cuts ($3B) since 2008.  To that amount, we must add the $80M shortfall per year caused by the recent appeals court decision that the legislature must fully fund the annual inflation adjustments to the base education-funding formula approved by Prop. 301.
     By my calculations, that means we are already $3B in the hole in per pupil funding, need an additional $230M one-time cost for preparing us for Common Core Standards, plus $236.6M per year for implementation, and $80M per year to make up for inflation costs.  It honestly isn’t even worth totaling all this up because it is not achievable.  The point is that education has not been properly funded and much more is needed to ensure the success of Common Core Standards implementation.
     Henry Ford is credited with saying:  “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”  We just can’t afford to not properly implement these standards.  Our children deserve the best we have to offer.  Our future is dependent on our getting this right.  Right here, right now.  I’m in…how about you?
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