I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Something Big Is Happening In Colorado

If you follow the education debate, you're going to be hearing a name new very soon: Lobato:
Denver District Judge Sheila Rappaport began hearing arguments yesterday on one of the most provocative education lawsuits in Colorado's history, Lobato v. State of Colorado.
The lawsuit alleges that the state supplies schools with too little while demanding high standards and specifically violates two clauses of its own constitution: the "Local Control Clause" whereby local school boards retain control over instruction within their districts, and the "Education Clause" that requires the General Assembly of Colorado provide a "thorough and uniform system of free public schools throughout the state, wherein all residents of the state, between the ages of six and twenty-one years, may be educated gratuitously".
Abbott out west? Could be: one of the key players in Abbott - and one of the inspirations for this blog - just testified in the case:
Bruce Baker, a national school finance expert, testified Friday that Colorado’s school finance system is especially regressive for districts with high numbers of poor children and English language learners because it doesn’t compensate for the higher costs of teaching such students. 
Baker testified as an expert witness for the plaintiffs in the Lobato v. State school funding lawsuit, which wrapped up its first week Friday. 
He’s one of the national witnesses being used by the plaintiffs to buttress their claim that the state’s school finance system violates the “thorough and uniform” education requirements of the state constitution. 
Baker made these main points in his report and his testimony: 
  • Colorado’s finance system distributes money inequitably and raises a low amount of revenue relative to the size of the state’s economy. 
  • Student demographics have changed dramatically in the last two decades, with significantly higher numbers of poor students and English language learners. 
  • The formula fails to meet needs of those at-risk students. 
  • There’s a lack of targeted support for high-needs districts, which means a lack of support for at-risk students. 
  • State achievement gaps have persisted and are related to funding shortfalls.
Here's the money quote:
Baker discussed at length the higher cost of educating at-risk students and said when those costs are taken into account, Colorado districts with large numbers of such students are at a noticeable disadvantage. He also said funding gaps can account for 60 percent of achievement gaps in reading and 46 percent of math achievement gaps. [emphasis mine]
Now, you would think that the "reformers" would sit up and notice something like that. You would think they'd be storming the halls of state legislatures, demanding equity in funding.

But they have other ideas - and they have them specifically about Colorado. Stay tuned...


CommutingTeacher said...

Oh good lord, I can't wait to hear what ideas they have specifically about Colorado. I knew TABOR was bad when I researched it during our tax-cap days. http://www.greateducation.org/statistics-faqs/funding-faqs/tabor-gallagher/ gives more information. As a teacher in an urban district with these challenges, I hope they are successful for the kids.

Duke said...

Thx fo the link - another thing to get up to speed on...