Saturday, March 30, 2013

How autism can cost families millions- MSN Money

How autism can cost families millions- MSN Money

How autism can cost families millions

As the rate of reported cases rises, the expense of providing care -- sometimes for a lifetime -- is becoming staggering.

By Jonathan Berr Mon 8:58 AM
daughter, illness, child, parenting, insurance, health, medicalLost amid the recent coverage about the frightening rise in reported cases of autism is any discussion of the costs to families -- which can be staggering.

According to data from the Autism Society, the annual cost to society from the illness is $137 billion, greater than the state budget of California and more than twice the market capitalization of General Motors (GM -0.86%), North America's largest automaker.

No less overwhelming is the cost to individuals and families caring for a person with autism. The Autism Society cites estimates of $3.2 million for the lifetime costs of such care. Behavioral therapies for children can cost $40,000 to $50,000 per year. Caring for an adult with autism in a supported residential setting can cost $50,000 to $100,000 per year.

"Even if no new instances of autism occurred starting today, the number of adults who would potentially turn to the human services delivery system for services and/or supports by 2030 will be 500% higher than it is today," according a statement the society provided to MSN Money.

The costs can be such a burden that parents have known to move to states where children on the autism spectrum get better benefits for care. Parents must often pay for services out of their own pockets because what schools provide is inadequate. Increased emphasis on early detection is no doubt costing taxpayers more money, but it's not clear exactly how much.

And, of course, the concern about the rising rate of reported cases is indeed justified. Data released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that that rate in American children is now 1 in 50. In 2007, the estimated rate was 1 in 86. Most of the increase is due to better, early detection of autism, which experts say is critical for successful treatment.

But Michael Rosanoff, associate director of public health research at Autism Speaks, says those figures, which are based on parental surveys, are probably too conservative. Data from South Korea collected by doctors estimate the rate at 1 in 38, or about 2.64% of that country's children.

"We think it's at least 2% (in the U.S.), but it may be higher," he said, adding that the federal government needs to do more. "It's absolutely frightening."

Jonathan Berr is the father of a 6-year-old son on the autism spectrum. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr.

Autistic Girl's 'Broken Cheeseburger' Story Goes Viral | ABC News Blogs - Yahoo!

Autistic Girl's 'Broken Cheeseburger' Story Goes Viral | ABC News Blogs - Yahoo!

Autistic Girl's 'Broken Cheeseburger' Story Goes Viral

A local Chili's restaurant in Midvale, Utah, might have made the grave mistake of "breaking" one little girl's cheeseburger by cutting it in half, but the waitress, manager and line cooks more than made up for it Sunday when they presented her with a brand new "fixed" one.
Seven-year-old Arianna Hill is autistic and she loves cheeseburgers. But apparently, ones that are cut in half just won't do.
"We just decided we were going to get some lunch before we were taking her to see the Easter bunny," Arianna's older sister, Anna MacLean, 25, told "She usually does OK in restaurants. It seemed to be going pretty well. She wasn't too overstimulated. She was really enthusiastic before we were even able to put our drinks orders in. She told the waitress, 'I'll have my cheeseburger.'"
However, when Arianna's burger was delivered to the table, MacLean noticed that Arianna wasn't touching it, but instead only eating her french fries.
"Her verbal skills aren't the best, but she can communicate basic things," MacLean said. "I asked why she wasn't eating and she said, 'I don't want it. It's broken.' She said, 'I need one that's fixed.'"
MacLean loves spending time with Arianna, but is always prepared to come across someone who might not be as understanding of her special needs. Fortunately, the restaurant didn't skip a beat in correcting the broken burger and their compassionate actions have now gone viral.
"Our waitress came back over and I felt bad. I don't really expect people to understand these special requests, so I just told her to add a new burger to our bill," said MacLean. "I just told her to charge it to us and she said, 'No way.' She was just so sweet and played along with Arianna."
The Chili's server, Lauren Wells, didn't hesitate before leaning down to personally apologize for the broken burger and assured Arianna she would bring her a brand new fixed one.
"The manager came over and did the same thing. It was really a big deal. The line cooks even got involved," MacLean said. "When she brought it back out, Arianna said 'Oh, thank you! You brought me a fixed cheeseburger.' She sat there and looked at it and said 'Oh I missed you,' and kissed it over and over again."
MacLean was so touched by the staff's compassion and understanding that something as minor as a cut-in-half cheeseburger would be enough to ruin Arianna's whole day that she snapped a photo of Arianna giving the cheeseburger a kiss and uploaded it to Facebook along with a brief description of how well the restaurant handled the situation.
Before MacLean knew it, the "broken cheeseburger" photo had more than 100,000 "likes" on the social media site, a number that continues to rise rapidly. At the time of this writing, the post had more than 220,000 "likes" and 10,000 comments.
"It's just touching," said Harrison Dixson, the Chili's general manager. "I had no idea. I looked at it this morning and it had a couple thousand likes. I thought someone would say, 'Hey, good job Midvale. But I'm talking to 'Good Morning America.' This is just unbelievable."
Dixson said he's gotten calls from people all across the country, including the president of Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization, thanking him for the way his manager, Brad Cattermole, and server, Lauren Wells, interacted with Arianna.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of those two. I've been with this company for 13 years and I've never been as proud as I am today," said Dixson.
"It turned out great and this turned into something way bigger than anything I ever imaged," MacLean said. "The comments on the post just bring awareness to people. This is Arianna's story. And this is Lauren's story, and the manager. They are a true inspiration."
Also Read

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Teachers Should Never Bully Their Students! - The Autism Site

Teachers Should Never Bully Their Students! - The Autism Site

Autistic Boy Injured During Body Sock Incident

Jeff Grisamore Not: Autistic Boy Injured During Body Sock Incident

Columbus, OH – An autistic boy was injured after teachers at his Ohio school used a restraint device known as a body sock on him. Naqis Cochran, 10, was placed in the device without permission, according to the family.The body sock was allegedly used on the autistic boy because he would not stop laughing during class. Naqis Cochran is a student at the South Mifflin Elementary School. The Teacher supposedly felt that spending some time in the body sock would help calm Cochran down.

The restraint device is made of a stretchy purple Lycra material. The boy told his mother that he remembers the teacher helping him step into the body sock and having his arms, legs, and head zipped inside. The next thing the Ohio autistic boy remembers is falling on his face and having his tooth knocked out. Naqis reportedly underwent two emergency root canals, but is doing fine now.

The South Mifflin Elementary School teacher reportedly noted in a statement about the body sock incident that she told the student to stop moving, and that is when he fell down and knocked out his front tooth.

Cochran’s parents maintain that they never authorized the use of a body sock on their child. When the family asked for an incident report about the body sock injury, the Columbus City Schools principal allegedly stated that no such document had been filed.
During an interview with NBC4, the autistic boy’s mother had this to say:
“No reports and the principal doesn’t report it and there is no emergency squad called. There things are very serious to us and our family and when we look at that, we called Children Services and filed a police report.
When the boy was taken to the hospital to care for his body sock injury, the mother recalled thinking that something just didn’t “feel right” about the scenario. She maintains that her child is not violent and would even find it difficult to defend himself. The Ohio mother feels that her special needs child was taken advantage of during the incident.

Naqis Cochran’s IEP (individual education plan) reportedly does not include any process for restraint usage or even address the need to be restrained. Both the teacher who placed the autistic boy inside the body sock and the building principal have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an ongoing investigation.

Clearwater teacher arrested, accused of abusing two special needs students | Tampa Bay Times

Clearwater teacher arrested, accused of abusing two special needs students | Tampa Bay Times

LEARWATER — A Skycrest Elementary School teacher was arrested Thursday on charges that she abused two special needs students at the school over a period of at least two months, Clearwater police said.
Melanie Jo Fox, 44, of Clearwater is accused of pulling a 6-year-old girl's hair, kicking her, hitting her with a book and binding her hands with duct tape.
Police say she also pushed down an 8-year-old boy and bound his hands with a rubber band.
Fox was charged with two counts of child abuse and remained in the Pinellas County Jail Thursday night on $20,000 bail.
Clearwater public safety spokeswoman Elizabeth Watts said Fox's arrest came after interviews with the teacher and students. There's no indication other students have been abused, but the investigation is ongoing, Watts said.
It's unclear how the alleged abuse could have continued for two months without being discovered.
Donna Winchester, a spokeswoman for the Pinellas County School District, said Fox began working for the district as an hourly teacher in 2004 and was hired full time in 2005.
"The district had moved Ms. Fox to a non-student site earlier this week following an investigation, which is still under way," Winchester said in a statement.
The case is the latest of several in the Tampa Bay area in which school employees are accused of harming or neglecting special needs students, and it raises questions about the training and supervision of special needs teachers.
In October in Hillsborough County, 11-year-old Jennifer Caballero, who had Down syndrome, wandered from her Riverview Middle School gym class and drowned in a nearby retention pond.
In January, Bella Herrera, a 7-year-old student at Sessums Elementary School in Riverview who had a neuromuscular disorder, choked while riding a school bus. Neither Bella's bus aide nor the bus driver called 911, instead calling a supervisor and the child's mother. Bella later died.
The incidents led to protests and lawsuits and prompted some Hillsborough County School Board members to call for reforms.
This week, video was released that appeared to show Hillsborough County bus driver Stephanie Wilkerson pushing an 8-year-old autistic girl off the school bus in September, causing the student to fracture an ankle. Wilkerson faces a charge of aggravated child abuse. She pleaded not guilty.
Schools are responsible for protecting all children from physical and sexual abuse, said attorney Lance Block, previous chair of former Gov. Charlie Crist's Commission on Disabilities. That need is more acute with special needs children.
"These students often can't communicate, can't express that they're being abused," said Block, whose 24-year-old daughter has Down syndrome. "Principals and teachers have to constantly look for and report anything suspicious. Otherwise you have tragic situations like this that can leave life-long scars."
Educators who serve disabled students are supposed to swiftly take action if, say, a child describes any uncomfortable interactions or develops bruises, scratches or a sudden attitude shift, Block said.
"Children are trained to obey and love their teachers," Block said. "If a teacher abuses them, how are they supposed to trust anyone with authority after that?"
Fairly or not, fingers are often pointed at school principals when a student is harmed at school. This is not the first time that Skycrest Elementary School principal Angelean Bing has faced a crisis of trust in her school.
She was principal at Fairmount Park Elementary School in St. Petersburg when a 5-year-old student was arrested and put in handcuffs at school — a scene that made national news.
Bing initially came under fire when a 6-year-old boy ran away from Fairmount and was seriously injured when he was hit by a car. An investigation showed Bing was doing her job supervising other children when the boy darted away.
A man who answered the door at Bing's home Thursday would not comment.
No one answered the door at Fox's apartment Thursday or answered the phone.
Fox had no prior discipline on her record, according to school officials, but there are indications she has had a troubled home life, according to court documents and interviews with neighbors.
Court records show she has taken legal actions against Denny Peterson, 52, the father of her two children, claiming failure to pay child support and domestic violence.
"This is very hard on us," said Peterson, who was out of town for his son's Army graduation. "My main concern is taking care of our kids."
Times education reporter Cara Fitzpatrick and news researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Contact Brittany Alana Davis at or (850) 323-0353 or Danielle Paquette at or (727) 445-4224.
Clearwater teacher arrested, accused of abusing two special needs students 03/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 7:37am]
© 2013 Tampa Bay Times 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Wanna Get Crabby With Us? | Think Autism. |

Wanna Get Crabby With Us? | Think Autism. |

Congress Rewrites IDEA Funding Rule - Disability Scoop

Jeff Grisamore Not: Congress Rewrites IDEA Funding Rule - Disability Scoop

A small change tucked inside a government spending bill this month may have big implications for special education.
Lawmakers included language clarifying the penalties that states may face if they fail to adequately fund education programs for students with disabilities. The issue has become significant in recent years as states struggled financially in the recession and some sought to cut education spending.
Under federal law, special education funding must be maintained or increased from one year to the next. If states fail to meet what’s known as “maintenance of effort” without obtaining a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education, they can lose out on future federal dollars.
At least two states — South Carolina and Kansas — got into trouble in recent years for slashing their special education budgets without federal approval. As a result, they faced permanent reductions in their allocations from the Department of Education.
Now, Congress has clarified that any penalties assessed for failing to meet maintenance of effort should only apply for the year or years that the requirement is not met. Moreover, any funds that are taken away from states for being out of compliance will not automatically return to the federal coffers, but instead can be redistributed to other states that follow the rules as bonus special education dollars.
“Without this language, these funds for special education and related services would lapse and be unavailable for the children with disabilities they are intended to serve,” said Michael Yudin, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services at the Department of Education, in a statement.
The change, which was proposed by the Obama administration, had broad support on Capitol Hill, congressional staffers say.
The move is also winning props from state leaders. Mick Zais, South Carolina’s superintendent of education, had been among the most vocal in pressing for a policy change after his state faced over $36 million in what he called an “absurd perpetual penalty.”
“This is a victory for students with disabilities in South Carolina and across the nation,” Zais said of the congressional action.

Kate Casas: Why I Want to Protect Great Teachers

Jeff Grisamore Not: Kate Casas: Why I Want to Protect Great Teachers

Why I Want to Protect Great Teachers

Posted: 03/26/2013 10:46 am

My third grade teacher was fabulous; in fact, in my 20 years of education I had a lot of really wonderful teachers. However, it is Mrs. Mason who inspired me to take on the challenging work of reforming the way teachers are evaluated, compensated, hired and retained.

Before being in Mrs. Mason's class I didn't hate school, but I didn't want anyone to notice me while I was there. I was terrified that my teachers were going to call on me; I might have to answer a question and worse yet that I would get it wrong. Mrs. Mason had a way of coxing me out of my shell, getting me to answer questions, and even taught me that raising my hand was a risk worth taking.
I will never forget the day she assigned us famous women to study for women's history month. When she assigned me Carol Burnett for my report, she whispered in my ear that she had given me Carol Burnett because I was important enough to have people listen to me the way they listened to Ms. Burnett. To this day, when my natural tendency to be an introvert rears its head and I want to hide in my office instead of make the hard phone call or go to the difficult meeting, I can hear Mrs. Mason whispering to me, telling me to be confident because I have value to add.
Having spent years in the classroom, I now realize that Mrs. Mason must have been doing this kind of thing for each student fortunate enough to be in one of her classes. She clearly knew that for me to be a successful student and adult I would need confidence and the ability to make myself be heard. These "soft skills" she taught me served me well throughout my long career as a student and now in my professional and personal life.
When my organization, the Children's Education Council of Missouri, decided to endorse Initiative Petition that, when passed, will reform teacher evaluations, tenure, and seniority-based layoffs, it was the possibility of protecting and elevating the profession for educators like Mrs. Mason that won me over. Every student deserves a teacher who, like Mrs. Mason, can look at the 25 faces sitting in the desks in front of them and know what each one needs to be successful and most importantly, how to get it for them.
CECM is supporting the Initiative Petition because it will move Missouri one step closer to recognizing the teachers who are doing for Missouri's students what Mrs. Mason did for my classmates and me. I know change is hard, I know teachers and administrators, and maybe even some parents are concerned about overhauling a system that has been in place for decades, but I also know that our current system is broken. Missouri's educators and students deserve a system of accountability that rewards educators who can meet every child where they are and move them forward.

MoCo special ed advocates pushing bill to make it easier for parents to dispute IEPs - The Washington Post

Jeff Grisamore Not: MoCo special ed advocates pushing bill to make it easier for parents to dispute IEPs - The Washington Post

MoCo special ed advocates pushing bill to make it easier for parents to dispute IEPs

Parents in Montgomery County are leading efforts to make it easier for Maryland families to dispute a child’s special education plan in legal hearings.
The parents have been lobbying in favor of a bill that would require school systems to defend Individual Education Programs in due process legal disputes, regardless of who initiates the proceedings.

If approved, the legislation would change the current system in Maryland, which states that the person bringing a complaint in special education disputes has the “burden of proof,” or responsibility of convincing a hearing officer whether the IEP developed for a particular child is appropriate.
Advocates say the special education process is overwhelming, expensive, intimidating and legally burdensome.
Maryland state Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery) has sponsored Senate Bill 691, which advocates say would give parents a competitive edge in special education disputes.
Montgomery said parents who believe school systems aren’t providing the right education for their special needs children often are at a disadvantage when they seek more services from school districts. School systems have attorneys, special education experts and staff to fight or defend special education disputes. But parents often don’t have the legal expertise or money to go toe-to-toe against the school systems, she said.
“The school system always prevails because when the parents come in they’re kind of blindsided by all the paperwork they should have done and they don’t know,” Montgomery said.
Federal law says students with disabilities are entitled to a “free and appropriate education” funded by the public schools. Parents work with school administrators to develop IEPs for students, which detail the services children are supposed to receive. But when the two sides can’t agree and mediation fails parents can bring the dispute before a judge or legal officer in a due process hearing.
Advocates of the bill were at a subcommittee hearing in Annapolis last week and were scheduled to speak before the Montgomery County Council’s education subcommittee on Monday. . The Montgomery County Board of Education is expected to consider whether to support the proposed legislation at its meeting Tuesday. Parents also have also launched a petition advocating the bill, which nearly 800 have signed.
The Maryland State Department of Education has opposed the bill, with officials saying it would create an adversarial relationship between parents and school officials. William Fields, with the Maryland Office of the Attorney General, testified against the bill at a hearing last week.
He said changing the law wouldn’t make it any easier for parents to hire attorneys to contest special education plans for their kids.
“We think it would cut down on the collaborative process,” Fields said

Maryland PTA Supports SB 691

Jeff Grisamore Not: Maryland PTA Supports SB 691

Maryland PTA represents nearly 200,000 members in over 970 public schools, with the
mission of advocating on behalf of children and youth in the schools, in the community,
and before governmental bodies and other organizations that make decisions affecting
children. Maryland PTA is comprised of families, students, teachers, administrators, and
business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children in
Maryland. As the state’s oldest and largest child advocacy organization, PTA is a
powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families, schools and communities
and a strong advocate for public education.

Maryland PTA wants to thank the committee for considering legislation that would place
the burden of proof on school systems in due process hearings for our children with
disabilities. We fully support Senate Bill 691 as it will help our most vulnerable families 
as well as our teachers in supporting children with special needs.

Maryland PTA believes the burden of proof should be placed on the party who has the 
greater access and resources, as well as the legal obligation to provide the services in 
dispute. School districts create the Individualized Education Program (IEP), their 
employees work daily with the child, and they employ both legal and educational experts. 
On the rare occasion when mediation fails, the school district is most able to provide the
documentation already in hand, to facilitate teacher and educational expert witnesses, and
to bear the legal burden.

Parents of children with disabilities, on the other hand, are more likely to be low income, 
less educated, and already overburdened with the challenges their child faces. Many are 
unaware of the responsibilities of meeting the current burden of proof. Several cases in 
Maryland over the years have seen school districts successfully move for judgment 
without presenting any evidence because a parent, attempting to represent themselves, 
failed to understand the legal requirements of burden of proof. As a result, the merits of 
the case are not even considered and a child’s needs may go unmet.

This legislation would support our families and our teachers. It very simply requires on
rare occasions that the school district prove the IEP they created meets the requirements
of a free appropriate public education as required under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA). Your favorable vote on this bill will indicate the state’s
expectation that our school districts are accountable and must stand behind their own
practices in serving our neediest children.

One of PTA's Purposes is "to secure adequate laws for the care and protection of children
and youth," and SB 691 supports that purpose.

For the reasons stated, Maryland PTA encourages your support of SB 691.

Testimony submitted on behalf of Maryland PTA
Rita Lowman, President

Special ed ‘burden of proof’ bill likely to die today in Maryland Senate - The Washington Post

Jeff Grisamore Not: Special ed ‘burden of proof’ bill likely to die today in Maryland Senate - The Washington Post

Special ed ‘burden of proof’ bill likely to die today in Maryland Senate

Maryland state Sen. Karen Montgomery (D-Montgomery) said she will continue to advocate for reform that would make it easier for parents to dispute their children’s special education learning plans even though the bill she introduced this legislative session effectively died Monday.
Some parents in Maryland were advocating for Montgomery’s Senate Bill 691, which would have shifted the burden of proof in special due process cases to school systems.

Senate Bill 691 was a crossover with House Bill 1286, which Del. Aisha Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) pulled on Saturday, Montgomery’s staff said.
“The Senate doesn’t want this bill to die, but if we send the bill back over [to the House], they will vote it down,” Montgomery said. “This is a worthwhile bill.”
Advocates of the bill wanted school systems to defend the Individual Education Programs in due process legal disputes by default, saying it would help parents who don’t always have the resources to hire attorneys and experts to dispute their children’s education plans.
But opponents of the bill said it was unnecessary because complaints are often resolved in mediation or before they go to a due process hearing. They also said placing the burden of proof on school systems would increase adversarial relationships between families and special education administrators

Graphing Evaluation Data – A Skill All Parents Must Master

Graphing Evaluation Data – A Skill All Parents Must Master

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kansas House defeats school choice measure -

Jeff Grisamore Not: Kansas House defeats school choice measure -

Kansas House defeats school choice measure -

Kansas House defeats school choice measure -

Kansas House defeats school choice measure


The Associated Press
 — The Kansas House defeated legislation on Monday that would create a school choice scholarship program funded by corporate donations.

House members voted 63-56 against advancing the bill to final action, dealing a blow to supporters who saw the measure as a means to give parents of poor or special needs students a choice in where to send their children to school.
House Education Committee Chairwoman Kasha Kelley said the measure wasn't about the parents' party affiliation. It was about giving the students an opportunity they otherwise might not receive, she said.
“We are sacrificing their future because we are protecting a system,” said Kelley, an Arkansas City Republican.
The measure would have let parents of low-income or special needs children in elementary or secondary grades apply for scholarships to send their children to private or parochial schools.
Corporations would receive tax credits for contributions to a qualifying scholarship-granting organization. The program would have been capped at $10 million annually and would have awarded scholarships to students for up to $8,000 annually.
Public school districts would not be penalized if any students who received a scholarship left for a private or parochial school. The districts would continue to receive state funding for one year.
Opponents argued there were too many questions about the tax credit provisions and whether schools accepting the scholarships would be accredited and students enrolled could enter college without having to seek additional paperwork. They also said it was a step toward creating vouchers for parents to take outside the public school system, including home schools.
“What we're really talking about is diverting public funds to private or parochial schools,” said Rep. Nile Dillmore, a Wichita Democrat opposed to the measure.
But Rep. Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican and supporter of the bill, said rejecting the measure preserves the status quo in public schools and denies parents the chance to give their children a better education.
“We must move beyond being system-focused,” Kinzer said

Missouri lawmakers introduce legislation to halt Common Core Standards | Newsmagazine Network

Missouri lawmakers introduce legislation to halt Common Core Standards | Newsmagazine Network

As public school districts across the state rush to align their curricula with the new Common Core State Standards they must have in place by 2014-15, state legislators are fighting to put on the brakes.
Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-O’Fallon, is the sponsor of House Bill 616, which would prohibit the Missouri State Board of Education from adopting the new standards and nullify all actions up to this point to implement them. Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue, is sponsoring an identical piece of legislation, Senate Bill 210, in the Missouri Senate.
Bahr said he has three objections to the new standards: the process by which the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) adopted them, the cost and the logistics of getting the state’s 500-plus school districts ready to administer the standards’ requisite online assessments.
“What people don’t realize is it’s not the traditional No. 2 pencil and fill-in-the-bubble type of test,” said Bahr. “This is online testing.”
The Missouri Constitution gives DESE the right to establish standards, and Bahr does not dispute this, but he said DESE adopted the standards before securing the funds to implement them.
“The problem is every school in Missouri has to have the bandwidth, the Internet capability, for entire classes to be online at the same time. And that is, for a lot of areas, a massive capital improvement that we do not have the funds for,” he said.
Bahr said the House of Representatives has the “power of the purse,” and DESE usurped this power.
“DESE cannot create a bill and then hand it to the General Assembly and say, ‘Pay it.’ That is unconstitutional,” said Bahr. “So their adoption of standards is permissible. Their adoption of online assessments, which will be very expensive to implement, is unconstitutional unless we, the General Assembly, authorize it.”
Bahr said he has no idea how much implementing the new standards will cost, but he said DESE applied for $389 million in federal Race to the Top funds in 2009 – and he uses this as a barometer to gauge how much the new standards might cost.
“I see that and say,’ OK, well even if they’re only half right, we’re looking at nearly $200 million,’” said Bahr.
DESE spokeswoman, Sarah Potter, disputed those numbers and said the cost of implementing the new standards “has very little to do with Race to the Top” funds.
“Everything that we’ve done so far with Common Core has been done with our existing budget,” said Potter. “And what the districts have done is just to take whatever money they were spending on their professional development before and spend it on retraining teachers to teach the Common Core State Standards.”
Potter said that more than 200 districts are “pro Common Core” and well on their way to aligning their curricula to the new standards and training their teachers to teach them.
“For them to stop at this point would be such a waste of money and a waste of time,” Potter said.
She added that putting the brakes on the new standards would be a step backwards for public education.
“And that’s the last thing that our education system needs is to move backward and to waste time and money in implementing some really wonderful standards – some things that are really making an amazing difference in this state for education,” said Potter.
As for the cost of implementing the new standards, Potter said DESE is waiting for the results of a survey being conducted by Smarter Balanced, the state-led consortium designing the online assessments, to determine how ready the state’s schools are to administer the new online tests. She said she expects to have the results of that survey in the next month or two.
“Once we know exactly what we need, we will develop a plan and we will seek an appropriation, if necessary, to equip every school appropriately,” said Potter. “But we just don’t know what the extent of the need is at this point.”
“Are the standards better? Will the students be better in the long run? Maybe. But in the short run, we can’t afford it,” he said.
House Bill 616 passed out of the Committee on Downsizing State Government on March 14. Next, it will go to the Rules Committee before being debated on the House floor. Currently it is not on the calendar.