Opponents of the standards warned in a Saturday panel discussion here that required testing tied to the teaching materials is very expensive — to the tune of $16 billion nationwide and $685 million in Georgia. That’s according to Jamie Gass of the Pioneer Institute, based in Boston.
And the Core standards are not tough enough, Bill Evers of the Hoover Institute told the Cobb panel. He cited weaknesses in teaching percentages, fractions and decimals and “missing topics.”
Other speakers blamed former Gov. Sonny Perdue and successor Nathan Deal for buying into federal “Race to the Top” grants that have those pesky federal strings attached, namely Common Core standards. Deal has already got the message of the growing opposition from grassroots groups, think tanks and advocacy groups. He tried to defuse or divert the fire aimed at him by signing an executive order declaring that the federal government cannot force standards on local school districts.
The Core issue is headed for a showdown in the 2014 legislature with state Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) leading the fight to block the national standards in the name of preserving local control and saving tons of money for tests, materials and whatever else may be associated with Common Core.
A majority of the Cobb school board, sensitive to the grassroots that can influence elections, decided to reject the Core textbooks costing $7.5 million.
Now the search is on for an acceptable option, and board Chairman Randy Scamihorn says his main concern is finding an affordable solution. Good for him.
That brings us to three new options handed to the board at last week’s work session. One plan would provide print resources for elementary school teachers, online resources for middle and high school teachers, and student textbooks for high school. Cost: $3.7 million. The next option would provide teaching resources including textbooks with all Common Core references and icons removed for middle and high schools. Cost for this ridiculous editing job: $6.3 million.
The final option calls for teacher resources for K-12, middle and high school print resources and textbooks, workbooks for high school core courses and hard cover textbooks for advanced courses. Cost: $4.2 million.
Scamihorn says he is more inclined toward an entirely different, less expensive plan than all the other options — and putting the focus on online resources.
He made a telling point: Other school districts across Georgia — including Cobb neighbors Cherokee and Bartow counties — have not purchased textbooks in recent years.
It seems to me that Scamihorn is on the right track. Online is the resource of choice for children today. So why spend millions on printed materials if students can do their work online?
To say the least, the first and least expensive option of print and online resources and high school textbooks looks like the clear winner for the students, the school board and the taxpayers.