Leaving Common Core Could Cost Oklahoma $125 Million, Standards’ Supporters Say
National Common Core supporters are urging Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to veto a bill pulling her state out of the controversial educational standards, citing high costs to both taxpayers and students if she acquiesces to the measure.
The bill before Fallin, passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Oklahoma’s legislature, would revert Oklahoma to its old Priority Academic Student Skills (PASS) standards, and then give the state two years to create new standards.
The new standards will have to be reviewed and found sufficiently dissimilar to Common Core before being implemented. (RELATED: Will Oklahoma Governor Kill Common Core?)
In a joint analysis published Monday by the Oklahoma Business Education Coalition and the Fordham Institute, a pro-Common Core national conservative think tank, advocates warn that abandoning Common Core in this manner could cost the state over $125 million, nearly $200 for each one of the state’s roughly 620,000 pupils.
The figure is far greater than the Oklahoma Department of Education’s estimate that a switch would cost the state $1.24 million. Driving the huge gap is an argument that up to $2,000 per teacher will have to be spent to prepare teachers for a new alternative testing regime. They also estimate that having Oklahoma create and conduct its own standardized tests will cost between $44 and $54 dollars per student, approximately double the estimated cost of joining one of two multi-state testing consortia that are created Common Core-aligned tests.
In addition to monetary costs, the groups argue that intangible effects on students could be severe, as teachers who have been transitioning to Common Core for the past four years will have to suddenly revert back to old standards and then quickly start transitioning to a completely new system.
Uncertainly could continue for years afterwards, they warned, as the bill could set a precedent for repeated legislative tinkering in an area typically left to school boards.
The paper also offers practical advice for Fallin, suggesting that she would only continue to face criticism from Republican activists even if she signed the bill. It pointed towards events in Indiana, where the state pulled out of Common Core only to have activists agitate that new state-defined standards were insufficiently different.
“A vocal faction of opponents of Common Core will continue to distrust Governor Fallin no matter what she does,” it says. By agitating pro-Common Core Republicans while failing to placate opponents, the paper suggests Fallin will only end up in a worse position as she heads for a reelection effort this fall.
While Fallin has in the past been a strong backer of Common Core, she has given very little indicaiton of how she is leaning regarding the current bill, and the pressure on her to sign it is strong.
Thousands within the state and nationwide have signed petitions demanding she approve the bill, and some fellow Republicans in the state legislature have indicated that their anger with her will be intense if she shoots it down.
Fallin has already angered many Republicans after she issued more than a dozen vetoes of approved legislation on gun laws and other issues. Most of these vetoes were overridden by the legislature. Fallin was also recently embarrassed by the state’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett.
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