About The Projected Costs To Change Utah’s Standards

Photo Credit: Soupstance (CC-By-2.0)

I wanted to follow-up on an article about Utah’s projected costs to change its academic standards.

Utah State Board of Education member Spencer Stokes was the person who floated the $100 million number to replace Common Core.

Here is a little you should know about Stokes. He is a lobbyist for Education First. Christel Swasey wrote about their involvement with Utah education policy.

What I find fascinating about Stokes complaint about the Common Core replacement costs is the fact he is on board with the push to raise the state’s income and sales tax in order to raise $700 Million for the state to spend on education.

Yet he wants parents and opponents of Common Core to pay for its replacement.

Lisa Cummins, who serves on the Utah State Board of Education, sent me the report that was cited that Spencer based his numbers on that you can read below:

I would also encourage you to look at the total state appropriations for education in Utah which is $3.4 Billion (a total of $4.8 Billion).

Here is a helpful flowchart.

Even if it did cost $100 million, and I’m not convinced that will, how much more will Utahns have to pay down the road for poor standards? $100 million may seem like a bargain.

It Is Too Expensive to Replace Common Core?

It is too expensive to replace Common Core.

That’s the argument one member of the Utah State Board of Education made last week.

The Salt Lake City Tribune reports:

Utah opponents of the Common Core State Standards may need to foot a $100 million bill if they’re committed to replacing the controversial education benchmarks, according to state school board member Spencer Stokes.

During a Thursday meeting of the school board’s Standards and Assessment Committee, Stokes said it is simply too expensive for Utah to start from scratch on a new set of grade-level standards for mathematics and English education.

“There’s no way on God’s green Earth that the Legislature is going to give us the money needed to create a true Utah core,” Stokes said. “In my mind, that chapter of this debate has closed because there’s no funding for it.”

Stokes’ explanation met resistance from board colleague Lisa Cummins, a member of the advocacy group Utahns Against Common Core.

She said her constituents don’t believe the debate is over and are not satisfied allowing a “socialist program” to be rendered impenetrable by financial constraints.

“Then they can pay for it,” Stokes responded. “The point is, the Legislature won’t give us the money.”

….

A 2016 report found that comprehensive revision of the Utah’s math and English standards, including the development of new tests and instructional materials and training for educators, could cost up to $38 million for the Utah Board of Education and another $87 million for local school districts.

First, if it will cost $100 million to replace Common Core, how much did it cost the state to implement it in the first place? I don’t recall the Board bemoaning the cost of new standards back then.  I would also love to see a copy of this report the Tribune cites as there was no mention of who conducted the study, nor a link to the report. Since Mr. Stokes is throwing that figure around he needs to state where he’s getting his numbers.

Second, based on a study sponsored by the Pioneer Institute, American Principles Project, The Federalist Society, and Pacific Research Institute in 2012 that pegged Common Core’s cost at $16 billion nationally I don’t think it’s going out on a limb to say Utah spent more to implement Common Core. At least they won’t have to shell out more for broadband which would be a bargain.

Third, how much will it cost Utah, in the long run, to continue with these reforms that have so far have produced no fruit except, at best, a decrease in NAEP scores and increased achievement gaps?

The Utah State Board of Education Got a Shake-up

utah-flag-state-capitol

One of the more exciting events from Election Day last week in light of our fight against Common Core is that Utah elected three anti-Common Core candidates to the Utah State Board of Education.

Utah has had a large grassroots effort to rid their state of Common Core for quite some time so it is exciting to see some electoral fruit. Christel Swasey reported last week that Alisa Ellis, Michelle Boulter and Lisa Cummins all won seats on the state board which completed a purge of incumbents from the board. “This election showed what can happen when people actually get to vote, instead of having the governor appoint board members, as had happened for so many years in the past,” Swasey wrote.

This put the future of Common Core in the state in doubt.

Alisa Ellis, a newly elected member of the Utah state board of education, says the core standards often symbolizes much more than it actually is.

“Common core basically has been a nickname for a much larger education reform,” says Ellis.

The common core standards were originally created by governors and state superintendents and then adopted on a state by state basis. This was never a federal requirement, but President Obama did incentivize states with extra funding.

Simply put, the core is a set of subject specific standards meant to guide teacher instruction. But Ellis, and at least two other elected board members, say it’s bigger than that.

“With all of these reforms is a loss of local control and a system where accountability shifts from the local community to far off distant bureaucrats,” says Ellis.

Utah will be interesting to watch.