Would you like Common Core or Education standards from a conservative legislature..? Also: Where’s $ for tech?

The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on the bill March 6, 10 A.M., Room 411 South, in the Wisconsin Capitol Building.

Here’s the headline:

Mary Burke: Common Core bill would politicize education

And here is a snippet from the article under that headline:
“Governor Walker has worked with members of the Legislature in both chambers to craft legislation creating a process that would develop Wisconsin-specific model academic standards. The governor believes Wisconsin-specific standards should be created and implemented by Wisconsinites,” Tom Evenson wrote in an email Wednesday.

So Wisconsin will choose either

A) Teaching K-12 students to a standardized test to suit Common Core at great expense in public schools that are already on edge after massive cuts in state funding
(which – oddly enough – makes odd bedfellows of the centrist state Dem Party and the hyper conservative lobbying group WMC which both prefer Common Core)


B) Allowing the current crop of Tea Party-influenced politicians in the Wisconsin legislature to create educational standards and override Superintendent Tony Evers with the aid of a governor who believes the biblical story of Noah’s flood is 100% accurate.

Is there a choice C here? As in – neither?

I suspect the answer is a big “NO”. States that agreed to put certain college and career readiness standards into place back in 2009-10 were subsequently qualified to get over $4 billion in federal aid nationally.

Also, as CSMonitor puts it, “Common Core wasn’t specifically prescribed, but the Obama administration clearly signaled it was the preferred option starting in 2009.”


“At great expense”

How great is “great”? I quite honestly don’t really know. I tried to know, but – well —

I thought I’d focus on what I assumed would be the simple side of this whole thing: money. But I’m seeing very little information on the digital infrastructure side of this – which is quite important since the Common Core test, which is called “Smarter Balanced assessment”, has to be taken on the internet.

I turned to the bill’s fiscal estimate – which you can read for yourself HERE .

The grand total for Common Core implementation seems to come to $23.0 million in 2014-15 “including both GPR and federal funding, and including various other testing instruments outside of Smarter Balanced and the ACT”.

For comparison’s sake, the estimate mentions that “overall pupil assessment” in 2012-13 cost $12.1 million “from all fund sources” – including from federal funds.

I remain a bit skeptical about the numbers in the LFB estimate because they emanate from a conservative think tank called the Fordham Institute.

But still – those estimates do not include technology infrastructure costs.

From the fiscal estimate:

“..data is not available on how many districts required upgrades specifically related to Smarter Balanced, the complexity of such upgrades, or the related costs.”

I’m putting some questions to a couple experts to get more information – especially concerning the technology expenses.

I leave the reader with two things.

This excerpt from an article by Diane Ravitch entitled,
“Everything you need to know about Common Core” which lets you know that the tech component in the Common Core program is significant and that this is an area of concern:

“All Common Core testing will be done online. This is a bonanza for the tech industry and other vendors. Every school district must buy new computers, new teaching materials, and new bandwidth for the testing. At a time when school budgets have been cut in most states and many thousands of teachers have been laid off, school districts across the nation will spend billions to pay for Common Core testing. Los Angeles alone committed to spend $1 billion on iPads for the tests; the money is being taken from a bond issue approved by voters for construction and repair of school facilities. Meanwhile, the district has cut teachers of the arts, class size has increased, and necessary repairs are deferred because the money will be spent on iPads. The iPads will be obsolete in a year or two, and the Pearson content loaded onto the iPads has only a three-year license. The cost of implementing the Common Core and the new tests is likely to run into the billions at a time of deep budget cuts.”

And this:
A pie chart from a Pioneer Institute report on Common Core expenses for the nation:

pioneer graph

Pioneer Institute is right wing and I do assume the numbers are inflated. Still, the pie chart is probably correct in that it shows a big pie wedge of money allocated for technology.

More information is needed.

A young protester eats pizza  at a Madison, WI protest March 12, 2011. Sign says, "My school. My future. Leave it alone."
A young protester eats pizza at a Madison, WI protest March 2011. Sign says, “My school. My future. Leave it alone.”

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