California Wants A Tax Hike to Pay For Common Core

Lance Izumi, writing in Fox and Hounds, is highly skeptical of new tax hike plans from Governor Jerry Brown and the California Federation of Teachers which they say are needed to close a $9 billion budget deficit. He notes that without the new spending obligations that come with adopting the national education standards the state’s education finances wouldn’t be in such perilous condition.

He refers to a study by the Pioneer Institute and the Pacific Research Institute that estimates the cost for retraining California’s teachers will be close to $630 million, while replacing textbooks will add another $483 million. In additional the new tests will have an associated annual cost of $35 million and the state will have to invest heavily in technology as the new tests are only available online.

The study projects “that California schools would need to make an initial one-time investment of about $418.5 million in computers and other infrastructure as well as additional annual expense, assuming a testing window comparable to current state policy.”

Add up all these varied costs and the one-time price tag for California to implement the national standards and tests comes to more than $1.5 billion.

Many of the component costs, however, will continue year after year.  The study, therefore, estimates a seven-year cost to California of nearly $2.4 billion.  Nationally, for all participating states, the seven-year cost is estimated to be a whopping $15.8 billion.

Common Core standards are popular with the Obama administration and states competing for Race to the Top money adopted them, however states such as South Carolina are already souring on the idea. The finance reports are likely to increase growing concern about the expense involved in making a transition with nebulous benefits. Izumi points out that the even education argument for the switch in California was flawed as the state already had a successful system in place.

Like a lemming, California joined the mad rush, discarded its highly praised state academic-content standards, accepted the comparatively less-rigorous national standards, and now finds itself heading over a fiscal cliff.  The state ended up not getting the “Race to the Top” money, and instead has received an expensive bill to implement the new mediocre standards.