"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Much Does it Cost to Implement Common Core Standards in Missouri? We Can Get an Inkling from California.

We have been wondering exactly how much the implementation the common core standards will cost in Missouri and have been making queries to find the answer.

We have heard figures that implementation cost of the standards range from approximately $750,000,000......to......zero. That's a large discrepancy and we hope to get a firm and accurate number fairly soon.

We will go out on a limb and predict the amount will certainly be more than zero. Let's look at California's unfunded debt it incurred when it signed onto common core standards. Like Missouri, it signed onto Race to the Top (in which common core standards must be adopted) but did not win any federal funding. Like Missouri, it nonetheless signed onto the standards and the projected unfunded cost to Californians because of that decision is $1.6 Billion.

What does $1.6 Billion buy for educational reform? Doug Laskey writes in "Let's Drop out of Race to the Top:

As a consultant for several educational institutes, including Fordham and Pioneer, I was involved in studying the wisdom of replacing individual state standards with one set of national standards. I studied all 50 states' standards in the area of language arts. Some were quite good and seemed in no great need of replacement, and some were rather shabby. I, and virtually everyone involved in this work, considered California's standards to be in the "no need to replace" category, first because they are among the best in the nation, and second because replacing them would be very expensive.

How expensive? There are a variety of estimates, but they all come to many millions of dollars. Consider that the Schiff-Bustamante bill passed in California in 1998 allocated $1 billion over four years to pay for textbooks aligned with the then-new California standards, in addition to the $70 million per year already allocated for textbooks. Grim projections come as well from the nonprofit group EdSource, which estimates that California will incur costs of $800 million for new curriculum, $765 million for training teachers and $20 million for training principals, plus assorted minor costs, coming to a total of $1.6 billion.

The costs California will incur for implementation will be the same type of cost Missouri will need to incur as well. Remember, these are for common core standards. That means common new curriculum for districts, training for teachers and principals and other costs...and how is this to be paid for?

Missouri school districts have no money, in fact, many are facing million dollar shortfalls and are reducing staff and services. The state has no money and has to cut $500,000,000 in the budget this year. If California's unfunded mandate is estimated at $1.6 Billion, the estimate I found (but haven't substantiated yet) of $750,000,000 for Missouri may not be out of line.

Whatever the cost is for implementation of this mandate is for Missouri, it will be costly in a time when the state, the districts and the taxpayers are out of financial resources for new programs. Mr. Laskey writes:

With the apparent collapse of funding for President Obama's Race to the Top education program, all states should look to California for guidance on how to react (or maybe how not to react).

Again, we ask the question, why are we signing onto a program that cedes state sovereignty and creates unfunded debt?

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