(Editor: On March 18th we broke a story about a $21 Million contract between Pearson Publishing and Huntsville Alabama Schools so the school system would be CCSS compliant. We further noted that the contract bidding process appeared to exclude competitors to Pearson. Russell Winn, a teacher in Huntsville claims in a letter to The Report Card www.thereportcard.org that Pearson won the contract without the usual competitive bidding process. Mr. Winn believes that CCSS claims of learning improvement are overstated and unproven. He believes that funds will be diverted from school districts to fund an expensive, complex and unproven program. School officials have not responded to requests for information about the bidding process)
1. I am the Humanities instructor at J. F. Drake State Technical College in Huntsville. I teach English, philosophy and religion. (I will blame any potential typos in my comment on my writing during the middle of the night. )
2. My primary objections to CCSS can be found in detail at a post that I wrote a couple of weeks ago http://www.geekpalaver.com/2013/02/28/huntsville-council-of-ptas-exaggerates-common-core/
The basis of my opposition is quite similar to (Dr. Diane) Ravitch’s:
a. CCSS were developed and promoted by the Gates Foundation, not the states.
b. CCSS have not been tested in any way. We have no idea if they will indeed increase “rigor” as the promotors of CCSS always claim.
c. CCSS is completely tied to standardized testing, and high stakes testing is killing education in our country.
d. CCSS will divert funds away from districts and from our students and into private companies.
3. Officially AEA, like the NEA, supports Common Core. Unofficially, they’re playing their cards close to their hands on the question.
Unfortunately, Alabama will be following CCSS for at least the next year. The Republicans in the legislature have shelved the bill to revoke CCSS in Alabama, so they are still the law here (and will be for the foreseeable future).
Thanks for this post and for asking questions about the Huntsville City Schools Board of Education. There aren’t many of us doing so.
First off, here’s a link to the totality of the contract. The screen shot you have is accurate, but here’s the actual document.
When Dr. Casey Wardynski (Huntsville School Superintendent) was promoting this contract, he claimed it was merely $18 million. As you can see, he was off by about $4 million. (But what’s $4 million between friends.) I wrote about the increase here: http://www.geekpalaver.com/2012/07/02/wardynski-underestimates-cost-of-contracts-again/
You asked Keith Ward if the bid law had been followed. The answer, should you ever receive one (which I highly doubt), will be that Pearson is a sole source provider exempting them from the bid process.
They will, of course, not be able to provide you with any documentation supporting this claim, but it is the claim that they will offer you. (Again, supposing that you ever hear from Mr. Ward again.)
You are wise in pointing out that CCSS will drive up the costs of education. Recently, CCSS supporters had quite a scare when the Alabama Legislature introduced a bill to revoke Alabama’s support of CCSS (or as we have labeled them here the College and Career Readiness Standards–cause, you know, we simply cannot support anything that Washington introduces here in Bama).
When he was asking people to contact the legislators to ask them to vote against the bill, Dr. Wardynski stated on February 21st that revoking CCSS in Huntsville would cost the district to lose approximately a $40 million dollar investment. His actual words were:
“So what that would mean for our schools system is essentially, we’ve made about a $40 million dollar investment in our curriculum in the last two years, and that would all be for naught.”
That figure of $40 million comes from the $22 million we’re paying Pearson, and $517,759.37 that we’ve paid to Renaissance Learning for their STAR Enterprises test to test our teachers based on their students’ “growth.” That probably also includes the $10,624,000 that we’re paying to HP to lease laptops for every student in the district over the next 3 years.
Who knows where the other money comes from. As I pointed out in one of the links above, Wardynski regularly fudges numbers when he thinks it suits his purposes to do so.
So, in answer to your question about costs:
Let’s assume that Wardynski did in fact overestimate the investment the district has made in CCSS by a factor of 2.
That means that CCSS has cost our district $20 million to begin implementing.
There are 135 districts in the state of Alabama.
Since the Alabama Legislature was convinced to shelve their idea of revoking CCSS in Alabama, that means that, according to Wardynski’s numbers, implementing CCSS in Alabama alone will cost the state $2.7 billion dollars.
If that number is average for the nation, we’re looking at $121 billion for the 45 other states that have signed on to CCSS.
This is quite a windfall for Pearson, HP, Microsoft, and Renaissance Learning assuming that others follow Huntsville’s “lead.”
CCSS is not the driving force behind the this expense (even thought Wardynski is happy to lay blame there). The driving force behind this expense is, in my opinion, the privatization of our public education system in the name of Educational Reform.
Sorry to be so longwinded, but thanks for bringing more light to these issues.
If you ever hear back from Keith Ward, I’d love to hear what excuse he offers you.