Last night, The Denver Post released its less-than-resounding endorsement of Amendment 66. The proponents of this initiative talk a big game; however, there are no guarantees – none – that any of this money would see its way into a classroom. We almost feel sorry for the Denver Post‘s naivete. Here are a few examples of where the Post‘s ed board was misled:
Denver Post: If a child transfers or drops out in December, for example, the school won’t continue to benefit from a full year’s per-pupil funding, as is now the case.
Reality: Additional count days could be implemented throughout the year now – without a billion dollar tax increase on families – but those who could have made this change have chosen not to do so.
Denver Post: The amendment would also give schools with high concentrations of disadvantaged children — those in poverty or learning English — the resources they need, including full funding for the state’s at-risk preschool program.
Reality: Special needs students and students who speak a different language only get the funding they need if they’re in the right zip code. For example, a child in Jefferson County with special needs gets $1,000 less than a child in Denver County. Additionally, English Language Learners who area also at-risk will no longer be counted as one or the other, but for both. Districts like Denver and Aurora where ELS and at-risk numbers are high will receive more money because students are counted twice. How is that fair?
Denver Post: Under the new funding formula, poor rural districts shortchanged by the current formula will benefit most, but every single district will come out ahead.
Reality: This is so untrue, that’s it’s difficult to respond. Rural districts are the big losers in this entire equation, getting far less per pupil than Denver and Aurora schools. Additionally, for every dollar that is paid into the system by Jefferson County taxpayers, the Jeffco school district would only receive 53 cents back. How does Jefferson County come out ahead? And, Jefferson County is just one county for which this is true. Further, there are no guarantees that any of these funds raised would make it into classrooms to benefit students.
Denver Post: Nor are charter schools neglected. Colorado would become the first state to insist that charters share equally in local tax hikes.
Reality: Charter schools get screwed by this amendment. The original version of the bill contained a mill levy sharing provision between districts and their charters. Democrats all but eliminated charter schools’ access to those funds through various amendments, leaving charter schools out in the cold in terms of funding.
Denver Post: One of our favorite innovations is a requirement that districts detail school-level costs in an online report.
Reality: This amendment was introduced in the state legislature this past session. It would have cost just $5 million, which is drop in the bucket compared to the billion-dollar surplus that currently exists in the education fund. It’s unfair to hold accountability and transparency hostage to a one-billion dollar tax increase.
Denver Post: Finally, the measure would free Colorado from a dangerous mandate put in place by Amendment 23 that education funding never dip below inflation no matter how strapped the state is for revenue.
Reality: This Amendment puts a new stranglehold on Colorado’s budget by requiring that the state spend 43% of its budget on education. That means that if Colorado wanted to spend $10 million on new roads, it would have to raise $17 million to meet this requirement. This is a taxation death spiral.