Mixed outcome for K-12 measures across the country

Much like South Dakota voters, the rest of the country is not too keen on raising taxes for education or adopting reforms. Here are results from some of the day’s more closely watched ballot measures affecting education:

REFORMS

South Dakota’s RL16 went down, roughly 32-68.

Idaho’s two very busy reform measures were going down as of 1 a.m. Wednesday.

 - Prop 1: End tenure, tie teacher evaluations to student tests and limit collective bargaining. Failing 44-56.

 - Prop 2: Teacher and administrator bonus pay for high test scores. Failing 43-57.

Indiana: Tony Bennett, the reform-minded state school superintendent, lost a re-election bid, 48-52.

USA: President Obama won. Presumably, reform-minded Arne Duncan will return as education secretary.

Washington: Allow charter schools? It apparently passed with 50.8 percent of the vote:

Georgia: Create a state commission to review charter schools? It passed easily.

REVENUE

South Dakota’s sales tax increase, IM 15, failed roughly 43-57.

Arizona’s sales tax measure lost 2 to 1. Proposition 204 would have made permanent a one cent per dollar sales tax to pay for education, roads and bridges and human services; it also would have barred the legislature from cutting K-12 funding in the future. Would have generated $971 million in its first year.

California’s tax increase was barely winning50.4-49.6 with 36 percent of the precincts counted at 1:10 a.m. Proposition 30 would have temporarily raised sales taxes by ¼ of a penny and increase personal income taxes on people making over $250,000. It would have raised $6 billion in annual revenue for public schools (they’d get 89 percent of that) and community colleges (11 percent) and forestalled state budget cuts.

Michigan’s Proposal 5, which would have made it harder for lawmakers to raise taxes, failed roughly 3 to 1.

Feds turn attention to rural schools

The U.S. Department of Education has set up a new website for rural education and will spend August holding events and engaging in outreach events concerning rural ed.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan grew up in Hyde Park and ran Chicago Public Schools before President Obama hired him. Folks in South Dakota and other rural states have criticized his policies for being urban-centric. To wit:
* School improvement grants call on low-scoring schools to replace principals and teachers. But many rural schools have a hard enough time filling positions.
* Competitive grants like Race to the Top have rewarded states that have charter schools. Outside of a group in Rapid City, there’s little interest in charters, which are more of a big-city thing.
I wrote about this disconnect last August. South Dakota’s then-Education Secretary Tom Oster had joined 11 other rural ed chiefs lobbying for rural-friendly legislation.
Duncan seems to be getting the message.
A big competitive grant program, i3, now gives preference to rural schools. I didn’t mention it in my story, but the south-central South Dakota “lab schools” I wrote about last month have applied for an i3 grant.
Duncan said this Monday in a news release:
“Rural schools are critically important to our nation’s future prosperity. As we prepare for the new school year, it is important to recognize the unique opportunities and challenges in rural schools and communities. Our nation needs the skills and talents of rural children and adults. More rural students need to access college and career training beyond high school to meet the needs of their local economies.”


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