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Did the Florida Commissioner of Education lie about the cost to implement Common Core?

A question was posed to Pam Stewart, interim Florida Education Commissioner, during public hearings on Common Core State Standards at a public meeting in Tampa, FL.

The question posed by a parent was: Has any cost analysis been done on Common Core – what will it cost taxpayers?

Commissioner Stewart answered “It will cost nothing.”

Brenda Pastorick, who attended the Tampa, FL meeting, states, “Of course, there was loud applause. Now, is she that naive? Or, if she lied about this to the general public, what other lies are being told by the Florida Department of Education with regards to Common Core. We certainly don’t want liars dictating policy over the education of our children here in Florida, do we?”

The Florida Coalition to Stop Common Core issued a report on implementation in the sunshine state. Chapter 6 is on “The Cost to Implement Common Core Standards.” According to the report:

Based on data from several sources, the Common Core standards and accompanying tests will be very expensive – both to implement and to maintain.

Florida is projected by the Pioneer Institute to spend $1,024,163,000 to pay for testing, technology, textbooks, and professional development in what they characterize as a “middle of the road” estimate compared to $905,838,000 in grants received, leaving at least $118,325,000 in costs to Florida taxpayers just for implementation.

Given that former Commissioner Bennett and the State Board of Education (SBOE) originally asked for $442 million in one year to implement assessments, which is more than what Florida has already spent on the FCAT between 1996 and 2008 combined, that $118 million amount might well be low and will serve as a huge unfunded mandate to already strapped county districts. Marion County has had to lay off 160 teachers, and Charlotte County was forced to discontinue physical education classes until parental outrage and funding shifts reversed that decision as costs for Common Core implementation continue to mount.

Even more concerning is that Bennett changed his education budget request to $100 million in the middle of the legislative session. This constitutes a $342 million swing, indicates enormous credibility problems, and appears to be an effort to hide the true costs of this capaciously expensive system. In addition, the commissioner later said that Florida may consider some other completely different testing scheme at an unknown cost, even though Florida is the fiscal agent for PARCC.

Read the full report here.

According to Pastorick, “Just to let you know the hearing on Common Core last night in Tampa was well attended, but with only one member of the FL Board of Education, John Cologne, present. He left early and did not even hear me and I was #26 speaker. Hillsborough County had an unending number of teachers, etc. praising the results they are having in their classrooms using Common Core – one even broke up in tears because her daughter who has always had trouble reading is now reading and excelling under Common Core.  It was evident that the words of the two experts, Dr. Sandra Stotsky (English) and Ze’ve Wurman (Math) probably fell on deaf ears with the advocates of CC – credentials attached – each was allowed 15 minutes at the beginning of the hearing.”

There have been concerns that advocates would be given more time to speak than opponents.

Chrissy Blevio from the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition (FLCC) wrote in an email, “Dear FLCC Fighters, Please do your best to get to the remaining two hearings. Our opinion, after sitting in on the FDOE meetings in Tampa and the public hearing, is that the FDOE has no intentions to consider dropping Common Core but only to change the name or ‘rebrand.’ It’s the old ‘bait and switch’ routine.”