Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Colorado at the Center of the Fight Over Education Funding

I had been avoiding posting on Colorado's upcoming vote on education funding until after the vote, but the state is increasingly becoming the focus of national attention.  Next week, the state will vote on whether to make a huge additional investment in education--$950 million annually to be precise.  The state legislature and governor have already approved the funding, but under Colorado law, citizens must also approve tax increases as well.  The funding itself is obviously important, but a few other wrinkles add to the importance.  First, this is coming on the heels of a state supreme court decision rejecting a school finance claim.  Sometimes you can loose the battle in court, but win the larger war.  Unfortunately, you can also win the court battle and loose the larger war.  Second, charter schools and public school teachers--normally adversaries--are coming together to support this bill.  Not only are they supporting it with votes, they are supporting it with big money from outside the state.  Part of the lesson here is that when the pot of school funding is big enough, charters and public schools are not forced to fight over crumbs.  Finally, Arne Duncan says that that the success of this bill would make Colorado “the educational model for every other state to follow.”  Because this one liner seems to be all that is getting reported, it is not entirely clear why it is a model, but one has to assume he is referring to the wide-spread and bipartisan support of additional investments in education, which is what Duncan believes can happen with a federal pre-k bill.

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