Saturday, October 5, 2013

Initial Cost For JP Schools To Implement Common Core: $35 Million and Rising

Despite claims that the implementation of Common Core will not impact local school board budgets, the Jefferson Parish Public School System (JPPSS) is selling $50 Million in new bond debt, with $35 Million allocated for technology upgrades to administer the Common Core standardized test, also known as PARCC.

While technically labeled “The Common Core State Standards”, in reality, Common Core provides a national set of standards for students and school systems.

Unlike traditional testing and standards, proponents of Common Core claim the standards are designed to reflect “the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”

Sounds good, right?

Not according to the Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative Washington think tank.  The Heritage Foundation believes in limited government and is disappointed by the lack of parental input in Education.

“Common Core is yet another top-down approach to education reform. American citizens were not engaged in the decision-making process to adopt the standards. Centralized education is not conducive to the American model of self-government. Self-government in education requires empowering families with educational opportunity to make sure their children can inherit the blessings of a free society.”

So, why did Governor Jindal agree to accept and implement Common Core? In a nutshell:  Dollars, both in terms of taxes and contracts.

While allowing state governors to “voluntarily” accept Common Core, the Federal Department of Education then withheld Federal education dollars from those states that refused to adopt the new, Nationalized Common Core Standards initiative.

The Heritage Foundation is critical of the Federal Government’s role in Common Core.

“State officials were enticed to adopt the standards through (1) stimulus funding and (2) a process that completely circumvented Congress: the Administration offering No Child Left Behind waivers to states that agreed to adopt common standards.

It also casts a dire warning for the future:

“But as implementation of the new centralized standards move forward, parents will soon learn what’s in Common Core, and taxpayers will learn what it will cost them.”

The Pioneer Foundation estimates that over a seven (7) year time horizon, implementation of Common Core will cost state and local governments approximately $15.8 Billion, including $6.9 Billion for technology infrastructure and support, $5.3 Billion for “professional development”, and $2.5 Billion for textbooks and instructional materials.

And, where will that spending come from? Get out your wallets folks.

On the local level, the group Stop Common Core Coalition of Louisiana is already banging the drums.

Many who have been sounding the alarm about the Common Core Standards Initiative (standards, testing, and data collection) are concerned about the cost to taxpayers of Louisiana that will be incurred under this unfunded mandate,” the group's co-coordinator Terri Timmcke said. “We have been told by the Louisiana Department of Education and by BESE members that our school costs will not rise. That is completely false.”

Timmcke points out the JPPSS bond debt sale which, like the recent bond debt sale in the City of Kenner, was approved without a vote of the people.

The Jefferson Parish School Board met Oct 1 and plans to move forward to borrow $50 Million on a bond issue. $35 Million of that will go towards computers and software for the PARCC testing.”

State Rep. Cameron Henry (R-Jefferson) is introducing a bill to stop the implementation of Common Core. He claims that the Jindal Administration incorrectly portrayed Common Core when it was brought to the legislature.

“She (Assistant Superintendent of Education Erin Bendily) said it ‘doesn’t represent a large shift from what we’re doing now,” Henry said. “That’s not true.”

Even as the JPPSS continues with its plan to borrow money to fund the implementation of Common Core, other school boards in Louisiana are distancing themselves from the plan.

Thursday, a St. Tammany Parish School Board committee adopted a resolution calling on the state to stop Common Core. The resolution goes before the entire School Board at the next meeting.

Ironically, the St. Tammany Parish School System is consistently ranked among the state’s best school systems while the JPPSS is in the bottom 1/3rd for the state.

So, what does the St. Tammany Parish School Board know that the Jefferson Parish School Board doesn’t?

Obviously, quite a bit.

Perhaps we should give the JPPSS a test.