Here is where the Common Core State Standards are very much at risk of becoming undone. State Boards and Departments of Education rushed to adopt them, but they’re not the ones paying for it. Arizona is having problems with the bottom line. I doubt they are alone.
Arizona leaders have called for tougher new education standards, but the cost to implement them in classrooms has fallen primarily to school districts, which have seen state funding drop by about 15 percent since 2008.
Arizona is one of 46 states to adopt advanced national standards known as Common Core Standards, and next fall, teachers in every public-school classroom in Arizona are supposed to teach with more rigorous materials and methods to encourage students to think critically to better prepare them for college and to compete in the global marketplace.
After nearly 20 years teaching students based on topics tested through the state’s Arizona’s Instrument to Measure Standards, or AIMS, budget-challenged districts from Mesa to Surprise have cobbled together funding sources, largely federal grants, to introduce teachers to the new way of teaching.
However, teachers need more training and schools must update classroom materials and technology as students in 2015 are supposed to take online tests ushered in with Common Core.
The costs become more formidable in view of potential federal budget cuts and voters’ rejection in November of numerous local funding requests as well as a statewide ballot request to keep a 1-cent-per-dollar sales tax intended largely to help fund schools.
Gov. Jan Brewer, who opposed making the sales tax permanent, is expected to include funding for Common Core in her budget proposal later this month.
The more rigorous standards are a key component of her push for education reform.
A document from the Arizona Department of Education pegged the new cost over the next two years at $131 million, although it’s unlikely the governor would seek that full amount — or get it.
State Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said funding the full amount in addition to other needs would be fiscally dangerous.