Ed Reform Bill: Walton Foundation and NEA are BFF's?

This morning NY Times columnist Frank Bruni suggests that we should pay attention to pending educational changes in Colorado, specifically the likely passage of an “ambitious statewide education overhaul” that is backed by teachers, politicians, and education reformers. It’s called Amendment 66, was already approved by Gov. John Hickenlooper,  and will go before voters on Election Day.

The bill represents a rare détente in the political silliness surrounding Common Core and standardized testing. All these Coloradans got together and decided that expanding pre-K and kindergarten for poor kids and providing charter school funding equity was more important than scoring ego. Amendment 66 is  backed by the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association and the Colorado Education Association. . The campaign for the bill was funded by both the Walton Foundation and NEA.

The architect of the amendment is Senator Mike Johnston, a dyed-in-the-wool education reformer, former public school teacher and principal, who also helped write a tenure reform bill that presaged NJ’s version.

Now, Colorado’s not New Jersey. We spend about $17K annually per pupil. Colorado’s cost per pupil is about $6,474. (It was about $7K, but got cut when the economy imploded.) I don’t what the cost of living is out there, but it’s not that low. So the state needed to invest more and appears ready to go, with the new revenue to come from a state tax increase. 

What happens when committed people put away their pellet guns and talking points?  An apparently sound strategy for increasing student achievement that  incorporates both traditional and non-traditional methods.

Bruni writes,
[Mike Johnston’s]  education overhaul is a shrewd grab bag of ideas from different camps that recognizes the political imperative of such eclecticism and the lack of any magic bullet for student improvement. It invests in early childhood education, teacher training, a fund for innovative projects, charters. It ratchets up local control and flexibility, giving principals an unprecedented degree of autonomy over spending. It also enables parents to see, online, how much money goes into instruction versus administration at their children’s schools. There’s transparency. Accountability.
 But then again, it has to pass and, Bruni's sunny demeanor aside, the prospects are not that bright. From EdWeek:
A two-tiered poll of 600 likely voters from a right-leaning pollster showed 44 percent opposed to it and 38 percent in favor when they received a basic description of the plan, and the opposition grew to 52 percent when a more detailed description was provided, the Denver Post reported Oct. 1.

Makes Trenton look good, right?

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