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Re: Fwd: 11/13/02 -- Schools to See Big Windfalls From<br> State BallotMeasures -- Education Week

You're right on to admit that your own words are a waste of time. That's a great first step. Art

>>> Victor.Steinbok@VERIZON.NET 11/13/02 09:08PM >>>
Fwd: 11/13/02 -- Schools to See Big WindfallsFrom<br>Instead of replying to Art's nonsense in my own words, which is acomplete waste of time, I want to point out to the rest of the listhow empty his observations are. To do so, I am simply enclosing thelatest EdWeek article.



Education Week

American Education's Newspaper of Record

November 13, 2002

Schools to See Big WindfallsFrom State Ballot Measures

By Linda Jacobson
Education Week

Despite the nation's rocky economy and a national tilt towardconservative candidates, voters in several states gave the go-aheadfor generous new education spending in last week's elections.

Voters approved funding for school construction andafter-school programs in California, and pricey measures to lowerclass sizes and offer free preschool in Florida.

Tennessee voters lifted a ban on lotteries, while Michiganrejected a proposal that would have ended a popularcollege-scholarship program.

A lot of voters seem to have a soft spot for educationmeasures, said M. Dane Waters, the president of theWashington-based Initiative and Referendum Institute.

He noted that while voters might be willing to delay roadimprovements or other spending projects, when it comes toeducation, they think, 'I've got one chance. If there's something Ican do to help my kid in school, I'm going to do it.'

Meanwhile, the results were mixed for two closely watched ballotmeasures that targeted bilingual education. While voters in Coloradodefeated an effort to curb such classes there, Massachusetts voterseasily passed a similar proposal. (Colo. Extends Bilingual Ed., But Mass. Voters RejectIt, this issue.)

Florida's Nov. 5 results show how support for hefty educationspending defied other political trends.

Gov. Jeb Bush had campaigned against the state's class-size-reduction measure, warning of its cost. But even as the Republican waseasily winning a second term, with 56 percent of the vote, theproposal was garnering the approval of 53 percent of the voters.

Called Proposition 9, it will limit class sizes to 18 pupils inkindergarten through grade 3, to 22 students in grades 4-8, and to 25students in high school. It must be phased in by 2010.

Now, Gov. Bush and the GOP-controlled legislature will beresponsible for implementing the measure.

I think it's important for everyone to understand that thecampaign is over, Democratic state Sen. Kendrick Meek, whosponsored the initiative, said last week. I don't think thelegislature is going to thumb its nose at the people of the state ofFlorida. I don't think the local school districts are going to turntheir back and say we're not going to do it.

Mr. Meek, who won election to the U.S. House of Representatives,said he now plans to bring educators, parents, and legislatorstogether to move the process forward.

By next school year, districts will be required to cut classsizes by at least two students, which could require the use ofportable classrooms to accommodate new classes.

While Mr. Meek stopped short of saying the initiative willrequire a tax increase, he said it will cost far less than the $27billion opponents predicted―more like $8 billion to $12 billionbetween now and 2010.

It's all about priorities here, he said. Thereis no secret that we have to raise the education commitment in thisstate.

In an unguarded moment, Gov. Bush was quoted as saying prior tothe election that he had thought of devious ways to avoidimplementing the new mandate.

But Susan MacManus, a political science professor at theUniversity of South Florida in Tampa, said the public should give himanother chance.

My impression is that governors want to leave with an imageof doing something instead of not doing something, she said.The public is going to hold him accountable forthis.

The governor told local reporters last week that he doesn't knowhow the state will pay for the reduction measure, but he added thathe's ready to hear input from class- size cap supporters.

Following the passage of another measure, the governor must name14 of the 17 members of a new governing board for higher education―abody similar to the one he and the legislature abolished last year aspart of an effort to create a seamlesspreschool-through-college system. (FloridaBreaking Down Walls Between K- 12, Higher Ed., Feb. 13,2002.)

There is the assumption that he will move players aroundthat are already in place, Alice Skelton, the campaign managerfor the Proposition 11 initiative on higher education governance, saidabout the new appointments.

The results in the Sunshine State may demonstrate more thanvoters' interest in schools, some say.

According to Mr. Dane, the outcomes show how political lines areblurring: Even though voters returned Mr. Bush to the governor'smansion, they approved measures he didn't support.

These voters may feel some loyalty to a specific party, butwhen it comes to ballot measures, they know that their vote will havean almost instantaneous impact on their daily lives, he said,and so are far less likely to vote strictly on partyconviction.

Pre-K in Florida

Gov. Bush did not oppose Proposition 8, the measure to makeprekindergarten universally available to 4-year-olds, but now he andthe legislature will have to find a way to pay for the program.

With the passage of Proposition 8, Florida became the first statein which a new statewide preschool initiative has been approved byvoters instead of through the legislative process.

This was a good decision by Floridians, said MayorAlex Penelas of Miami-Dade County, who led the drive to get theinitiative on the ballot. This is a good investment.

Unlike Proposition 10, a tobacco tax for early-childhood programsthat passed in California in 1998, Florida's Amendment 8 does notspecify how the new pre-K services will be financed. It just mandatesthat lawmakers provide the money.

Everyone has agreed that with growth in the state budgetalone, you can afford to pay for this, Mr. Penelas said.

As in neighboring Georgia―the first state to offer universalpreschool―Florida will open the program to all children, regardlessof their parents' income.

By 2005, it has to be every 4-year-old, the mayorsaid. It will be like every other grade.

California Construction

In California, crowded and rundown schools will get somerelief―and soon―from the $13.05 billion bond issue voters approvedlast week.

According to the state's Office of Public School Construction,school districts in which building projects were approved by the statebut never financed will begin receiving funding from bond proceeds inthe next two months.

If those funds are managed effectively, the results could give abig boost to another statewide school bond issue for $12 billionslated for the November 2004 ballot, said Scott MacDonald, a spokesmanfor last week's winning Yes on 47 campaign.

In spite of a state budget deficit of more than $20 billion in abudget of $99 billion, almost 60 percent of the voters approved themeasure, which Mr. MacDonald said could also create 250,000 newjobs.

That's a huge boon at the time we need it, hesaid.

Future growth in the economy also would mean that anothersuccessful measure, Proposition 49, which approved new after-schoolservices, will likely be implemented.

Spearheaded by the actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom manypolitical analysts are describing as a potential gubernatorialcandidate, the initiative is expected to cost up to $550 millionannually. But it won't kick in unless state spending grows by at least$1.5 billion more than the highest level in any previous year.

The League of Women Voters of California opposed the measure,saying that it would add to future budget crises. Butproponents called it a fiscally sound plan.

When our economy recovers, under Proposition 49, everypublic elementary and middle school in California will be able toprovide a safe haven for our most vulnerable citizens, Mr.Schwarzenegger said following the victory.

Tennessee Lottery

Now that voters in Tennessee have given the green light to alottery, it is up to legislators there to work out the details.

State Sen. Steve Cohen, the Democrat from Memphis who pushed forthe referendum, has already prepared legislation to establish alottery, which, as in Georgia, would be used to pay for collegescholarships.

But unlike Georgia's HOPE Scholarship program, which providestuition aid for students based strictly on their grades, Mr. Cohen'splan would direct more assistance toward needy students.

If approved by the legislature, a lottery could generate as muchas $300 million annually. Any additional proceeds―which could be ashigh as $100 million a year, Mr. Cohen said―would be used forearly-childhood education, after-school care, and K-12 schoolconstruction.

During the campaign, education associations were largely silenton the lottery proposal, which was strongly opposed by religiousgroups throughout the state.

But now that it appears to be closer to reality, that'swhen the fight starts over how [the money is] going to be spent,said A.L. Hayes, a spokesman for the Tennessee EducationAssociation.

Michael Gilstrap, the president of the Gambling Free TennesseeAlliance―the leading anti-lottery organization―conceded toreporters that the voters had sent a clear message byapproving Constitutional Amendment 1 with a 58 percent majority.

But Stephen Smith, the director of government relations for theTennessee School Boards Association, said the battle might not be overyet. Opponents could still lobby the legislature not to enactit, he said of the lottery measure.

In Michigan, college scholarships were also on the line.

The defeat of Proposal 4, however, means that high schoolstudents who meet or exceed state standards on the MichiganEducational Assessment Program will still be eligible to receiveone-time scholarships of $2,500 each. The measure, if it had beenapproved, would have redirected $300 million from the state's tobaccosettlement―money used to pay for the scholarships―toward hospitalsand other health-related programs.

I think [students] are relieved, said Jim Ballard,the executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary SchoolPrincipals. Students at the high school level became veryaroused when they learned what this really meant. We worked very hardto get them informed.

A school construction measure passed in Hawaii, but this one willbenefit private schools.

Sixty-percent of voters said yes to Question 2, which will giveprivate schools access to special-purpose revenue bonds to renovatetheir facilities.

Private Schools Pleased

The schools will repay the debt, but will be able to do so at amuch lower rate than if they obtained financing on their own.

Our campuses our aging, said Robert Witt, theexecutive director of the Hawaii Association of Independent Schools.Current facilities, he said, do not meet students' 21st-centurylearning needs.

Mr. Witt said that the plan is to bring together six to eightschools to craft a pooled bond proposal for thelegislature, which will begin its next session in January.

While he's moving quickly to inform private school leaders of thenew opportunity, Mr. Witt admits he was somewhat unprepared for thevictory.

I was surprised, he said. We have deliberatelybeen careful not to count our chickens.

© 2002 Editorial Projects inEducationVol. 22,number 11,page1,22-23,25

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