Although the results are not yet official, it looks like education reform is here to stay in Douglas County. After a highly contested race that captured the nation’s attention, the four pro-reform candidates were victorious. This isn’t just a victory for those four candidates, it is a victory for parents and students who will undoubtedly benefit from the positive changes the Board of Education has and will continue to put forth.
I have written a lot about the amazing things happening in the Douglas County School District, but you may have noticed that during this contentious school board race I haven't written much. I have been covering the race for RevealingPolitics.com, so you can check out my writing there.
But, tomorrow is a big day - Election Day! We will see if people believe in the successful reforms of the current BoE in Douglas County that have made it the most interesting school district in the country, or if they've bought into the false narrative of the union-endorsed candidates that the reforms aren't working.
Last week the Secretary of State completed its line-by-line review of the petition signatures for Initiative 22, the billion dollar tax increase to fund SB 213. Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced that, "the proposed ballot measure concerning 'funding for public schools' was found to be sufficient as required by statute." But just barely.
The group Colorado for Kids turned in 165,706 signatures, but after the line-by-line review 79,850 of those signatures were rejected. That is nearly half of the total submitted! Obviously these people did an unbelievably sloppy job collecting signatures if nearly half of them have been thrown out. And that leaves the total of accepted signatures, 89,820, at just 3,715 above the required minimum to be placed on the ballot - an incredibly slim margin.
Initiative 22 now becomes Amendment 66 - a change to Colorado's state constitution. This isn't any ordinary tax increase; it's a billion dollars every year and it will be in the state's constitution. The slim margin that allows the measure to be placed on the ballot and the sloppy signature collecting should be questioned before Colorado's citizens are forced to pay.
The U.S. Department of Justice is suing the state of Louisiana in New Orleans federal court over its private school voucher program, called the Louisiana Scholarship Program. The suit targets public school districts that are currently under federal desegregation orders, claiming that the voucher program is impeding the desegregation process. In the school districts affected by the lawsuit, they could only assign students to private schools if a federal judge agrees to it.
The signatures gathered for Initiative 22 may not all be legitimate. Friday, the Secretary of State’s office announced that the verification process would now require a line-by-line review.
The group Colorado for Kids turned in 165,706 signatures on August 5, nearly twice the required 86,105 to get the initiative on the ballot this fall. The Secretary of State’s office then began verifying a random sample of the signatures, as required by statute. According to that statute – Section 1-40-116(4), C.R.S. –if between 90 and 110 percent of the signatures in the random sample are verified then the proposal may move forward.
Parents are often concerned with their children’s safety when not in their care. Schools should be a place for children to learn without worrying about safety issues. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last December, Douglas County School District (DCSD) decided to review their safety plan and make any necessary improvements to further ensure the safety of students, staff and visitors.
As kids head back to school, the effort to get a mega tax hike on the ballot this November moved forward. The group Colorado for Kids turned in nearly double the required signatures last week for what has been called Initiative 22. The amount of signatures may be partially due to the misinformation (or full-blown lies) the paid canvassers used to gather signatures. Check out this video from Revealing Politics.
Douglas County School District (DCSD) is "retaining teachers like a colander retains water." That was actually tweeted by KUSA-9News reporter, Kyle Clark in an effort to tease the station's story from Education reporter, Nelson Garcia.
Garcia spoke with two teachers, who also happen to be union members, who said they are leaving the district because they are fed up with the central administration. In particular, they are mad that teachers didn't have more involvement in the development of the new evaluation system. Read more from The Colorado Observer here.
Criticism of the reform-minded Douglas County School District (DCSD) is nothing new. However, one outspoken parent, Trisha McCombs, took to Twitter to personally attack Superintendent Dr. Liz Fagen last week for not attending every high school graduation ceremony. Read the full story from The Colorado Observer here.
Differences of opinion on major policy issues is understandable and may even be expected for a school district like Douglas County that has put forth innovative reforms that have sparked controversy.
SB 213 has completed its journey through the General Assembly and awaits Governor John Hickenlooper’s signature. Democrats are claiming victory for this “once in a lifetime” piece of legislation, but they shouldn’t be celebrating just yet.
Come November, Colorado voters will then decide if they want to pay for this very expensive bill with a $1 billion income tax increase. Yesterday, Colorado Peak Politics ran a stor about a new survey from Magellan Strategies that shows Coloradans don’t want their taxes going up, certainly not to pay for more government or SB 213.