Legislative Week Feb.10-14

As I addressed in previous columns, the adoption of Common Core State Standards by our SD Dept of Education continues to be a hot topic. On Wednesday I will bring two bills addressing the concerns echoed by parents,teachers and taxpayers from across the state.

HB 1214 wil require a study and analysis of the financial, fiscal, and economic impacts of implementation of the Common Core State Standards.

Nationally, CCSS was rolled out to the 45 states and adopted in 2010, with no analysis as to the cost to implement such changes. Two years later, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute released their analysis in March of 2012, entitled, “Putting a Price Tag on the Common Core,” and estimated it would cost the states approximately $12.1 B. Later that year, December 2012, the Pioneer Institute released their analysis entitled, “National Cost of Aligning States & Localities to the Common Core Standards” with a national estimate of $15.8 B. Taking into account the $4 B given to states via the Race to the Top (RTTT) grant from American Recovery Act ; Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the states were estimated to bear the cost of $8.1 (Fordham) to $11.8 B (Pioneer) for the implementation of these new standards.

Currently, States across the country are beginning to implement the CCSS and are spending billions to do it. California announced its one-time allocation of $1.25 B to help schools districts begin the implementation process. Florida has asked for $441.8 million for subsidies to local school districts just for the required technology upgrades. These two states alone are spending approximately $1.7 B, accounting for 14% of the national cost projected by the Fordham study & 11% of the national cost projected by the Pioneer Institute, even though these two states only account for 4% of all the states nationally that have adopted CCSS. Thus, indicating these preliminary estimates are lower than the actual costs being incurred today.

There are numerous evaluations of studies, reports, budgets, and other financial information from the various states, districts, and independent groups across our country to evaluate what the impending costs are to our state. The research shows, I believe the state of South Dakota is likely facing a $51,765,424.27 cost for the implementation of CCSS. However, as many states have recognized the majority, on average 61% of the costs, are borne by the local school districts.  A letter received from the South Dakota Department of Education dated July 31, 2013, individual school districts are responsible for the “purchase [of] additional computers” and for any additional “textbooks” or supplies required for the transition. Notably, the Rapid City Area School District’s RTTT grant application allocated 45% of its funding requests for “Supplies, Technology, & Curricular Materials.” The local school districts statewide are faced with impending costs for this transition of approximately $83,130,344.66. Thus, bringing the estimated cost statewide at approximately $134 M. Of course, this does not include on going costs, such as the SBAC testing assessments at approximately $5 M per year or other ongoing costs for the districts for the maintenance, insurance, & upgrades of the technology needed to take the SBAC assessments.

HB 1243 is to  An Act to supplant the Common Core Standards.

The Roman philosopher Cicero, who said:  “We are all drawn to the pursuit of knowledge.  We desire to see, to hear, and to learn; we consider the knowledge of what is hidden or wonderful, a condition of our happiness.”

Cicero speaks of happiness as a goal of education; so did Benjamin Franklin.  Both men knew that education is itself the application of a standard.

Common Core Standards were presented as education reform, but “reform” is not the same thing as “improvement”.  I’m troubled by the fact that the Federal government used third-party trade unions like the NGA and the CCSSO to facilitate the writing of these standards, and then promoted them to the states with stimulus money as an incentive.  No Congressman or Legislator ever voted to accept them.  The NGA and the CCSSO still hold the copyright to the Common Core Standards.  How can it be good for South Dakota to adopt standards they didn’t write and don’t even own?  Where is the local control in that arrangement?

There is a growing trend to halt and reverse the Common Core Standards and for good reason.  I would rather put money in teachers’ pockets and allow them to teach children in ways that form them academically than pour it down the black hole of ever-changing technology obsolescence.

As always you can contact me at the House Chamber number 773-3851. Leave a phone number and I’ll call you back. The fax number is 773-6806. If you send a fax, address it to Rep. Elizabeth May. You can also email me at rep.may@state.sd.us during session. You can keep track of bills and committee meetings at this link: http://legis.state.sd.us/ You can also use this link to find the legislators, see what committees they are on, read all the bills and track the status of each bill, listen to committee hearings, and contact the legislators.



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