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OTHER OPINION: Core standards come with costs


September 15. 2013 10:57PM
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Pennsylvania — and the nation — needs to improve the education process. As the state this week moved one step closer to final implementation of Common Core Standards, we wish those standards came with a projected cost or projected funding.


Pennsylvania on Thursday joined 44 states and the District of Columbia in adopting regulations grounded in the Common Core State Standards, a framework developed by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers. The state Board of Education approved a set of regulations that included these Pennsylvania Core Standards with a 13-4 vote.


The Common Core does not dictate a national curriculum. Local school districts will retain control over their own lesson plans and methods to teach the standards. We love that local control, because each school district faces its own challenges.


While officials are correct to push standards that challenge our kids on an equal basis, leaving the financial weight of how to reach those standards on area school districts and teachers is a heavy load. Most school districts over the past several years have battled with budget crises — a process that is sure to continue as they begin planning the next budget.


Teacher positions have been eliminated, course offerings cut and taxes increased. School districts don’t seem to have a grasp yet how to deal with state education cuts ordered by Gov. Tom Corbett over the past couple years.


Now districts face the challenge to prepare their children for a new set of standards and the implementation of Keystone Exams — a pass/fail test each student faces to graduate starting in 2017 without a clue as to what it will cost each local school, or whether the cost can be met to match the goals.


It sounds like a work-more, spend-less approach with the outcome eventually falling to each individual student.


We wish the process started at the bottom and outlined the financial burden and requirements for each school district as they relate to the eventual goals and standards. At least a best-guess, a sample spending plan or proposed financial aid should be on offer.


Then the school districts can tell us how they plan to fit that into their next budget and what it means to our children and our taxes.


That sounds like a plan to pass the test, and passing, in the end, is the only option.


The Sentinel, Carlisle, Pa.




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