Voters in Colorado overwhelmingly rejected a proposed school finance reform measure on Tuesday, one which would have raised nearly a billion dollars for Colorado public schools. Described by local media as "a major overhaul of education financing that would have provided nearly $1 billion in additional revenue for Colorado schools," the measure was rejected by a nearly 2-1 margin, with almost 66% of voters saying no.
That isn't just a defeat. It is a repudiation, and an ominous one. Set aside the specifics of the measure for a moment and reflect on the message sent by a 2-1 defeat for a measure touted as pro-public education, no matter its merits.
That kind of a whooping --especially when the losing side had the full support of a popular governor, huge out-of-state hitters (and donors) like Mayor Bloomberg, Bill Gates and Education Secretary Arne Duncan and many business elites-- is a huge signal that perhaps a rupture has occurred, a rupture of the long American tradition of support for public schools across party lines and across all demographic categories. What happened Tuesday night in Colorado was obscured by other high profile elections in New Jersey, Virginia,and New York City, but the national news media should quickly get around to asking what is happening with schools that have made controversies surrounding them into such hot button issue in so many ways and in such a short period of time?
How, exactly, could a measure which such big name and deep-pocketed support lose so badly, so overwhelmingly?
Earlier this summer I spent a broadcast week interviewing various voices from the debate over the "Common Core." I did so when scores of listeners to the radio show and visitors to my various public events began to bring up the subject, and I wanted to get smart about it. So I dug in, on the air, in front of everyone. I am no expert on "Common Core," but was willing to hear from all sides on the issue.