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Estimate: Common Core To Cost California Nearly $10 Billion, Nation $80 Billion

Common Core’s rollout costs were projected at $17 billion. California’s actual spending suggests taxpayers will pay more than four times that.


A California commission has just decided the technology costs for Common Core tests are an unfunded mandate, which will require state taxpayers to cough up approximately $4 billion more to local school districts, Californian and former U.S. Department of Education official Ze’ev Wurman tells The Federalist.

This adds to the extra $3.5 billion the legislature gave schools for Common Core in spring 2015 and a separate infusion of $1.7 billion Gov. Jerry Brown snagged for Common Core spread across fiscal years 2014 and 2015. That makes a total of approximately $9.2 billion above and beyond existing tax expenditures Californians will pay to have Common Core injected into their state.

This even though both vested and independent analyses found that California’s pre-Common Core curriculum mandates were of higher quality than the Common Core that replaced it. You read that right: Californians got their kids worse instruction, and are paying $9.2 billion extra for it.

You read that right: Californians got their kids worse instruction, and are paying $9.2 billion extra for it.

California contains approximately 12 percent of the U.S. K-12 population. Given that, Wurman says: “Another way to look at it, the nationwide cost of Common Core exceeds $80 billions, even as most states carefully avoid separating the Common Core costs like California does.”

The only independent analysis, done after nearly all states had already agreed to accept Common Core for a shot at extra federal money because almost no states examined costs beforehand, calculated that the nationwide cost of rolling Common Core out would be nearly $17 billion, or less than one-fourth the nationwide costs California’s actual expenditures now suggest.

Since California, like the federal government and many state governments, faces a crushing debt crisis, future generations will have to pay twice for Common Core: once in stunted math abilities and again in taxes those stunted abilities will make harder to earn.

Wurman explains how he did the math using the commission’s figures to arrive at the $4 billion estimate. Wurman is skilled in non-Common Core math—he helped write California’s highly regarded pre-Common Core curriculum requirements.

“Based on empirical data these technology costs were assessed by the Commission to be at an annual $183/tested-student, or around $600M annually for the 3.3M students tested in California,” he wrote. “The current costs already reimbursed by the state were assessed at ~$25M, so the findings reflect an additional annual ~$580M for SBAC testing (or about $4 billions additional Common Core costs over 7 years).”

He added: “the annual $183/tested-student that the commission adopted was based on a 2-year sample of 77 districts expenditures on assessment-related technology in SY 2013-14 and 2014-15. It is unclear if those expenditures are properly amortized, or they reflect the full up-front cost of the technology… The ruling seems to require the full $183 per student per year from now on as per pages 11-13 here.”