They’re Going to Make You Feel Bad

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boy with backpackThey’re going to make you feel bad about voting against Amendment 66 on Election Day, Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

Guess what? It’s still the right thing to do.

Various great minds have been credited with this saying: ““What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.”

Your friends might think you are crazy for not wanting to spend MORE money on our schools. The popular rhetoric I’ve always heard about our schools is that we are number 49 out of 50 in school funding.

I did some research and this is simply not true according to this 2008 report on school funding or according to the Colorado Education Association’s own report from 2011-12. Nowhere did Colorado rank at the bottom; it’s number 26. Don’t be fooled by that ancient factoid. It’s a political punch line that just isn’t right.

In fact, according to the ed.gov website report here, Colorado actually ranks higher on average than the rest of the nation in writing, math, science and reading for both fourth and eighth grade achievement scores.

So, when you hear we’re underfunded, you have to ask, “How much (more) do we need if our schools ARE succeeding?” But the buzz phrases are:

“Help the children”

“Why would you want to hurt schools?”

“Mean people don’t support more school funding”

Reality check, folks. There’s a time and a place for good spending and the right spending. If our schools are already performing well, why would we spend a billion dollars  more from YOU? That looks like this: $1,000,000,000. (It’s actually listed at $950 million so I’m rounding, but still…) That actually hurts families in Colorado by requiring higher taxes. That means less for food, clothing, rent and utilities. How is that a good thing?

Amendment 66 will required 43% of income, sales and excise tax funds to be spent on preschool to high school funding, removing the choices of lawmakers to allocate the General Fund monies as they see fit.

In the amendment, anyone making up to $75,000 annually will now owe 5.0% in taxes, a change from the former flat state tax of 4.63% and anyone making over $75,000 will now owe 5.9% in taxes. That translates into between a $278 and $1,270 (for a $100k earner) or more owed in taxes above what is already being paid under current law.

Also, the increase will impact different counties at different levels, based on prosperity. According to a spreadsheet put together by Independence Institute, Denver County residents will see a 16.6% increase.  Boulder and Douglas County residents will both see a 15.7% increase and Arapahoe County residents will suffer a 15.6% increase. The less-prosperous counties like Weld, Adams and Pueblo will see increases of 12.4%, 10.7% and 11.2%, respectively.

But still, that’s not what it’s about; it’s about the kids. It’s always about the kids.

Did you ever see the movie “Dave” when his friend comes in and audits all the government programs to find places to cut so that the president can pay for a special kids’ program he wants? It’s such a perfect illustration of what we need to do with so many government programs.

We need to take the time to truly examine what should be spent where instead of mandating certain dollars for certain things with no flexibility. Senator Scott Renfroe, R-Weld, recently told radio host Amy Oliver he cannot support the amendment because funds are already available for exactly what this amendment is supposed to address. Why make the state spend MORE if there are already funds in place?

A friend told me about how the technology budget works for the school she works in. Because the technology budget hadn’t been spent completely for that year, the school went out and bought new iPads for the university students who would be studying the children at her school. Huh?

Instead of using the surplus for aid to other children in need, for school supplies or school lunches, or possibly employing an additional learning specialist to help high-needs kids, the surplus was spent on iPads for people who didn’t even work in the school district.

That is a perfect illustration of non-discretionary spending that goes on all the time in school districts across the nation. Why would we perpetuate this awful way of “improving” our education system with pigeon-hole spending? It just doesn’t make sense.

So remember, when they try to make you feel bad about not supporting Amendment 66, you can tell them this: Spending money for the sake of spending, simply to support a political punch line hurts kids more than it helps. Less money for parents, wasteful, unnecessary spending for schools and tying the  hands of lawmakers when our schools, teachers and children are actually doing quite well.

Don’t let them make you feel bad. Vote no on Amendment 66 and tell your friends why they should too.

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One Response to They’re Going to Make You Feel Bad

  • Heather Von St James says:

    Hi I’m Heather! Please email me when you get a chance, I have a question about your blog! Heather.vonstjames(at)gmail.com Thanks!!

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