There are a few possible explanations for all those shouts of “May Day” Coloradans may have heard yesterday. Some might have been the annual calls for an imaginary workers’ paradise, while others might have been desperate pleas of displaced Texans and Californians calling for relief from the late-season snow. In my education policy wonk world, though, “May Day” was code for a noteworthy coincidence. Have you heard?
As Ed News Colorado reports, the state legislature yesterday put the finishing touches on Senate Bill 213, the new school finance bill tied to some form of a billion-dollar tax increase initiative. Finishing its partisan course, the senate approved house amendments by a party-line 20-15 tally. Every legislative vote cast for SB 213 has come from Democrats; every vote against has come from Republicans. The Governor, also a Democrat, has given every indication of signing it into law.
The strict partisan divide may have something to do with all the bill’s missed reform opportunities, including continued inequities for charters and only a tiny share of total funds assigned to student “backpacks” (and in the final version of SB 213, pgs 139-140, even that small amount of principal “autonomy” is subject to district-level review). Then there’s the issue of “phantom students,” an ongoing problem of inequity left completely untouched by this new legislation.
That brings us to the May 1 coincidence. The same day as Colorado’s SB 213 received its final stamp of legislative approval, the smart people over at Education Next published a research-based commentary by Marguerite Roza and Jon Fullerton titled “Funding Phantom Students: State policies insulate districts from making tough decisions.” Continue Reading »