Jonathan Butcher, education director for the Goldwater Institute, based in Phoenix, said opposition also is gaining traction because states and districts are at the point where money has to be appropriated to pay for the standards.
“As soon as states had to start spending money on the Common Core, as soon as it became a line item in the budget, people sit up and take notice,” Butcher said. “And that wasn’t going to happen until now, until states started to implement it. So it’s unfortunate that there is so much attention to it so late in the game but that’s kind of where we are. As soon as it starts to become a money issue people will pay attention.”
Calculations on the cost of implementing the standards vary, with the Pioneer Institute and two other anti-Common Core conservative think tanks estimating it will cost $16 billion over seven years. Meanwhile, the Fordham Institute, which is pro-Common Core, said the cost over a one-to-three-year transition period could range from $8.3 billion to breaking even or even saving money, depending on things like whether the states purchase hard-copy textbooks or use open-source learning material written by experts, vetted by their peers and posted for free downloading.
One issue is that new tests tied to the standards will be computerized, requiring some states and districts to make technology upgrades. The Pioneer analysis included those technology costs; the Fordham one didn’t.
In backing ultimately unsuccessful anti-Common Core legislation in Missouri, Rep. Kurt Bahr, a Republican from the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, said he was concerned that many communities lacked the bandwidth and hardware to administer the tests.
“We don’t have that connectivity,” Bahr said. “It’s about to become a massive pocketbook issue.”
The standards are the result of an initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Carrie Heath Phillips, who oversees implementation of the standards for the council, played down the concerns about cost, noting that states periodically update their standards and that spending money to implement new ones is nothing new. She also acknowledged that technology upgrades can be a real issue for states that haven’t invested in it, but asked, “If you’re not moving into the 21st century now in 2013, when are you going to?”
The standards have a long list of supporters, including the National Parent Teacher Association, several education associations and businesses such as the Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp.
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