Arizona State School Chief Blasts Common Core

Diane Douglas

Diane Douglas

Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas was elected on a anti-Common Core platform so it’s no surprise that she would blast it during her 2015 State of Education address before the Arizona Legislature on Wednesday.

She’s probably the only state school chief talking like this, and she didn’t mince any words. She called the state of Arizona’s public education poor and then she turned her sights to Common Core and its assessment.

Our Arizona state standards were discarded and replaced with the unproven Common Core Standards, which came to Arizona as a de facto federal mandate―only to be renamed Arizona’s College and Career Ready Standards.

The continual disruption of standards, accountability, assessment, and educator evaluations has caused uncertainty and stress in the education community as well as among Arizona parents. This is not the first time Arizona has changed its entire education system to reflect the latest fad, top-down approach, or cure-all sold as the solution for student achievement.

Common Core is just the latest, and it was implemented virtually without public communication, input or support. This constant roller coaster of dramatic changes has shifted the focus away from educating children and placed it on change for the sake of change itself.

Parents, students and teachers are exhausted and districts are broke from rewriting curricula and lesson plans every seven to ten years. Just as some stability is reached, everything is changed once again.

And now we will be subjecting our children to the brand new, unproven, inaptly named AzMERIT test―the name is the only thing Arizonan about the test―which was hastily chosen just 11 short weeks ago behind closed doors, once again without public discussion or vetting.

It was created by a self-identified, self-described behavioral and social research organization―not by education experts.

Our dedicated assessment staff at ADE has the daunting task of rolling out this new test in the next 10 weeks. Make no mistake, that team and districts all across the state are working diligently to fulfill this mandate.

A mere 21 weeks from adoption to implementation―let me repeat, 21 weeks, less than half a year, to prepare a test for students at almost every grade level. Once again, our precious children are being used as guinea pigs to advance some education agenda.

I call on this Legislature and the Governor to stop the madness and put our children first.


Arizona Is Not Concerned About Cost of Common Core Testing?

Arizona Department of EducationGeorgia pulled out of PARCC due largely because of the cost of the test.  Other states have withdrawn from their testing consortiums, but not Arizona.  Their Department of Education said that the cost is less than they anticipated.

From the Arizona Daily Independent:

The Arizona Department of Education is committed to the Common Core standards, despite wide opposition. According to the Yellow Sheet, “Leila Williams, who is overseeing the PARCC implementation for ADE, said the cost actually came in lower than expected and ADE is developing its decision proposal to submit to the governor’s office. It will be up to the State Board of Education to adopt the test. “We’re still going forward, planning on implementing it. There’s not a discussion yet to abandon it,” the Sheet reported.

Exactly how much were they planning to spend?  That is a question that Arizona taxpayers deserve an answer to.  I’m not convinced that PARCC will be able to stick to their estimate of $29.95 per student considering it can’t all be graded by machine.  This seems to be a lowball estimate.

Arizonans Fighting the Funding of the Common Core

AZ-state-flag1We wanted to highlight work that is happening in Arizona currently spearheaded by Arizonans Against Common Core.  They are currently trying to keep the Arizona Legislature from funding implementation of the Common Core.

Here is an update that Jennifer Reynolds sent me via email:

We are currently fighting Budget Appropriations for further implementing Common Core for the 2013-2014 school year. The Bill number is SB1483 and we stopped this funding ($82 million for CC) in our Senate and we are working to stop this funding from “popping up again” in our House. We also stopped funding already in HB2047 for the Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) to PARCC transition bill which would fund the implementation, teacher training of CC, and further fund PARCC when it is finalized in 2015.

Here is the amendment that stripped the Common Core funding from SB 1483 while it was in the Arizona Senate.  If you live in Arizona, please contact your State Representative to ask them to keep it out.

They also have a petition for the redress of grievances that Arizonans should sign.  The purpose of this is to point out that the Arizona Department of Education did not follow the Arizona Constitution when the Common Core State Standards were adopted in 2010.  “They did not involve the parents before these standards were implemented which is a requirement per our Constitution and no “cost impact” analysis was done on how it would impact our state to implement these national standards,” Reynolds stated.

Common Core Has Funding Issues In Arizona

Ben Franklin Wearing Graduation Cap on One Hundred Dollar Bill

Here is where the Common Core State Standards are very much at risk of becoming undone.  State Boards and Departments of Education rushed to adopt them, but they’re not the ones paying for it.  Arizona is having problems with the bottom line.  I doubt they are alone.

From The Arizona Republic:

Arizona leaders have called for tougher new education standards, but the cost to implement them in classrooms has fallen primarily to school districts, which have seen state funding drop by about 15 percent since 2008.

Arizona is one of 46 states to adopt advanced national standards known as Common Core Standards, and next fall, teachers in every public-school classroom in Arizona are supposed to teach with more rigorous materials and methods to encourage students to think critically to better prepare them for college and to compete in the global marketplace.

After nearly 20 years teaching students based on topics tested through the state’s Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS, budget-challenged districts from Mesa to Surprise have cobbled together funding sources, largely federal grants, to introduce teachers to the new way of teaching.

However, teachers need more training and schools must update classroom materials and technology as students in 2015 are supposed to take online tests ushered in with Common Core.

The costs become more formidable in view of potential federal budget cuts and voters’ rejection in November of numerous local funding requests as well as a statewide ballot request to keep a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax intended largely to help fund schools.

Gov. Jan Brewer, who opposed making the sales tax permanent, is expected to include funding for Common Core in her budget proposal later this month.

The more rigorous standards are a key component of her push for education reform.

A document from the Arizona Department of Education pegged the new cost over the next two years at $131 million, although it’s unlikely the governor would seek that full amount — or get it.

State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said funding the full amount in addition to other needs would be fiscally dangerous.

Read the rest.