As New York lawmakers review the state’s Common Core-aligned curricula, a coalition of businesses and government school officials is predicting change would create educational and fiscal “chaos.”
High Achievement New York, an organization created to support and promote New York government schools’ adoption of Common Core, released a report in January predicting a repeal of the state curriculum standards would cost state taxpayers more than $480 million in wasted funds, creating chaos in government school classrooms.
New York lawmakers are formally reviewing Common Core, a national education curriculum initiative with roots in No Child Left Behind and other federal programs, and will issue their findings in June.
Joy Pullman, a research fellow on education policy for The Heartland Institute, says Common Core supporters’ predictions of doom are inconsistent with their past prognostications.
“So, let me get this straight: Common Core supporters are the same people who told us that changing standards would cost essentially nothing more, because states periodically update standards and buy new textbooks, but now that it’s [the state government] changing away from Common Core, suddenly standards-switching is expensive?” Pullmann said. “These people need to get their arguments straight.”
System Is Already ‘Struggling’
Valerie DiCaprio, a co-founder of Stop Common Core on Long Island, says New York government schools are already in a state of chaos because of Common Core.
“Race to the Top funds have dried up, yet schools are still struggling to stay afloat in the face of greater financial demands for training, materials, and attempts to meet the technological problems of online testing, including computers and broadband ability,” DiCaprio said. “Schools are drowning because of Common Core’s onerous mandates.”
DiCaprio says a high-quality curriculum can be found and implemented easily.
“Any state could essentially alter its standards to the best in the nation for free, because those arose from Massachusetts, which is no longer using them,” DiCaprio said. “To do easy standards improvement on the cheap, simply adopt Massachusetts’ [previous] standards. The state led the nation in student achievement and improvement, until it adopted Common Core.”
Sees Common Core as Costly
DiCaprio says the cost of repealing Common Core is ultimately irrelevant.
“Critics want to talk about the chaos and financial implications which would ensue if we repealed Common Core,” DiCaprio says. “We are in the midst of an educational crisis. What is the cost to our country with an entire generation devoid of architects, scientists, doctors, engineers, creators, inventors, and entrepreneurs? What is an acceptable cost for lost childhood? Lost years of education with no second chance? That price is inestimable. Our children and our future should not come with a price tag, and yet that is exactly what High Achievement New York is proposing.”
A Georgia county judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the state’s education-expense tax credit program after determining the plaintiffs lacked standing to challenge the program’s constitutionality.
The decision left the reform program in place, allowing students to receive privately funded scholarships to attend the school of their family’s choice.
In February, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams dismissed the lawsuit, filed in 2014 by representatives of the Southern Education Foundation, a nonprofit organization promoting the interests of government schools. The plaintiffs claimed offering tax credits for private school scholarship expenses and tuition gave the program’s donors illegal benefits and allowed government schools to be commandeered by private organizations donating to the program.
Reformers ‘Very Pleased’
Kelly McCutchen, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, says Georgia’s children will benefit from the lawsuit’s dismissal.
“We are, of course, very pleased the court struck down this spurious lawsuit,” McCutchen said. “We think low- and middle-income children deserve access to the education that best fits their needs.”
Currently, the fund is limited to $58 million per year, or about $63 per Georgia child between the ages of 5 and 18. McCutchen says the program should be expanded so more children can benefit.
“The cap for this program has been [reached] on the very first day it was opened for contributions for the last two years,” McCutchen said. “Now that all legal challenges have been clearly overcome, it is time for the Georgia General Assembly to raise the cap.”
Efficient Use of Money Cited
Jim Kelly, general counsel for Georgia Greater Opportunities for Access to Learning (GOAL) Scholarship, Inc., one of the nonprofit organizations tasked with awarding scholarships under the tax credit program, says the program gives taxpayers more bang for their buck than government schools can provide.
“The average adjusted gross income of GOAL scholarship families has been $25,496,” Kelly said. “Yet, GOAL is able to offer scholarships to both low- and middle-income families while keeping its average scholarship award to around $3,682, which is significantly less than the $4,500 average per-pupil amount the state spends to educate a student in public school.”
Calls for Expansion
Kelly says the cap on the tax credit program keeps far too many children in substandard schools.
“Of course, low-income families who cannot access financial aid to send their children to better schools face the tragic reality of having to keep their children in substandard public schools,” Kelly said. “But an underappreciated reality is that so many middle-income families who desire to send their children to safe and character-forming private schools are not able to [meet the required costs].”
Jenni White ([email protected]) writes from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.