School board chairman on right track with online resources focus
by Don McKee
June 23, 2013 09:46 PM | 1989 views | 5 5 comments | 64 64 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Don McKee
Don McKee
Controversy over Common Core national education standards in Cobb County revolves around the issues of local control and costs.

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.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Funny Stuff !
June 23, 2013
Before using Cherokee's current textbook status, Scamihorn ought to look at 2012 - 2016 Cherokee County Schools strategic plan which specifically calls for;

"Teaching materials AND textbooks will be acquired or developed that are aligned with STANDARDS."
@ Don
June 23, 2013
Respectfully Don... More than 43% of the students across Cobb County qualify for free/reduced meals largely based on low parental income, or lack thereof.

Not making excuses here, it's a fact.

These families struggle to put food on the table and the only resource that the chairman is prepared to offer, and to which you agree, is online.

Going solely with online resources is an excellent way to create greater division within this community.
June 24, 2013
Yes, they qualify for free and reduced but they have fancy cars and smart phones and can not afford online resources or food, right?
East Cobb Senior
June 24, 2013
Is the amount of Federal money going to our schools calculated on the number of students on free/reduced lunches? If that is the case then there is a strong incentive to enroll as many as possible in that program to increase the Federal dollars coming into the system. Also, I wonder how many of those households have internet connections and cable? It would be my bet that a large percentage do.
Uh duh
June 28, 2013
Regardless of what parents of free and reduced lunch children do with their money, we will never be able to control that. The digital divide is real, whether it needs to exist or not. Relying solely on electronic sources will further that divide and only negatively impact children who have absolutely no control of how their parents choose to spend their money.
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