Partisan politics intrudes in non-partisan school overrides

10 Nov 2012 09:08 pm
Posted by: Angela

Some of the winners in this year’s elections have to be the number crunching nerds whose models and analysis accurately predicted the outcomes of countless races. As a scientist and a proud nerd, who bases just about everything on reliable data and verifiable facts, I am encouraged enough by this outcome to write my first post for Democratic Diva. Yes, numbers will be involved.

This year I worked on a school override campaign where 3 of 4 measures lost – although we had won in the same districts repeatedly in the last 4 years. I had to figure out why. Searching for answers, I began looking in detail at the county wide results, trying to find correlations between the type of funding request and the rate of success or failure.  As of this morning:

-All of the bond requests passed by large margins.  Since there is no longer any state money available for building new schools, bond measures are as close to a guaranteed win as you can get in politics.

-88% of M&O overrides that included tax increases failed; maybe voters just did not approve tax increases in this economy? But, 33% of M&O overrides that did not increase taxes also failed. Hum.

-60% of Capital overrides, which are usually the hardest to pass and include tax increases, were approved. Curiouser and Curiouser.

Perhaps there was a correlation between success and failure based on the voter registration counts? Now, one of the things I truly enjoy about working on school campaigns is that the committees are made up of people of all ages, races, socioeconomic backgrounds, and political parties, who come together to fight for the future of the district’s children. My initial gut feeling told me that party registration should not matter that much. Well, numbers prove gut feelings wrong…again.

In districts with a Democratic voter registration advantage, 15 of 17 measures passed. Of the two that lost, one was in the district with the narrowest Democratic advantage, and was the second question on the ballot (when two measures for the same school were on the ballot, the “yes” count for the second one listed was lower by 2-4% this year).

In districts with a Republican voter registration advantage, 1 of 13 measures passed. The one measure that passed regarded a lease agreement so was not actually a comparable budget override. This means that in school districts with a Republican voter advantage, no budget override passed this year. A 100% failure rate!

So in the end, it is the children in the Republican dominated school districts that are being short-changed the most by the Republican ideology.  Their “the only good tax is no tax” and “schools need to learn to live within their means” bravado, is creating a system where children in Democratic leaning school districts are funded at the maximum levels possible, while children in Republican leaning school districts have fewer teachers, larger class sizes, more antiquated technology, etc.  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

It is time for the Legislature to revise the rules so that local school funding is adequate and reliable for all districts. We must stop forcing districts to go back to voters every four years in a continual fight just to maintain local funding that has been approved over and over again for more than 25 years. The Legislature and Governor also need to stop passing the buck to schools, cities, and counties.  They need to stop forcing others to do the heavy lifting of raising the revenue essential for adequate public services, just so a handful of Republican legislators can keep their no-tax pledge to Grover Norquist – but that’s a subject for another day.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by mike slater on November 11, 2012 6:04 pm

    To me the biggest win in the election was the defeat of prop. 204. The voters sent a loud and clear message to the education group that enough is enough. Live within your means and quit begging for more money.

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