Should Colorado have passed that amendment?


A wide range of spending on schools: In Colorado, voters rejected Amendment 66 this week.

In this morning’s New York Times, Jack Healy reports the basics:
HEALY (11/7/13): Had the referendum passed, the current flat state income tax rate of 4.6 percent would have been replaced with a two-tier system. Residents with taxable incomes below $75,000 would have paid 5 percent; taxable incomes above $75,000 would have been taxed at 5.9 percent. The measure would have poured money into poor, rural school districts, expanded preschool, bought new technology and encouraged local innovations like longer school days and school years, supporters said.

But the promise of higher teacher salaries and full-day kindergarten failed to resonate with voters, even in many reliably blue corners of the state and areas where the money would have had the greatest benefit. The state voted 65 percent to 35 percent against the overhaul, known as Amendment 66.
Should Colorado have passed that measure? We were struck by the chart which accompanied Eduardo Porter’s column this week.

In his regular page one Business Day column, Porter discussed the vagaries of education spending. In his chart, he showed per pupil spending for each of the fifty states in 2011.

Colorado ranked 41st, spending roughly $8500 per pupil per year. On Porter’s chart, six states are shown spending more than $15,000 per pupil. The state of New York was pushing 20 grand.

Whatever! We were struck by two states which spent a bit less than Colorado—Texas and North Carolina. On the 2011 NAEP, they were both high-scoring states, after disaggregation.

Consider Texas. In Grade 8 math that year, its white students ranked third best in the nation, close behind their peers in Massachusetts and New Jersey. Black kids in Texas trailed only Hawaii. The state’s Hispanic students also placed second, behind only Montana.

Per pupil spending can be deceptive, in part because the cost of living is different in different parts of the country. Having said that, we were struck by the rankings on Porter’s chart.

No one cares about any of this, so we’ll see no further discussion. Still and all, we were struck by that chart.

Arrival of the new NAEP scores: Who knew? Just like that, the new NAEP scores have arrived today. In Grade 8 math in 2013, Texas ranked fourth among white kids, third among black kids, third for Hispanic students.

For all NAEP data, start here.

We’re always surprised by those Texas test scores. Needless to say, there will be no further discussion.

Posturing to the side, no one cares about any of this! Conservatives like to trash Obama. We liberals enjoy dropping R-bombs.

That’s the shape of your national discourse! It doesn’t get much beyond that.

(Also, if someone cuts-and-pastes something, Rachel will be right on it!)


  1. "Just like that, the new NAEP scores have arrived today. In Grade 8 math in 2013, Texas ranked fourth among white kids, third among black kids, third for Hispanic students."

    Governors Bush and Perry seem to have done a fine job with Texas education over the past 18 years.

    1. Can't conclude that without comparison to a baseline. Maybe the schools would have been even better without whatever they did. Maybe their changes had little impact. Maybe something they were not in favor of is responsible for how well the schools perform. Hard to know without closer inspection.

    2. Anon. @ 1:29 Since BOB never makes the effort to discuss what might be behind the rise in Texas test scores, one could easily make that assumption.

      However, before I became Emperor Daizabaal, AKA King Zarkon of Doom on these pages, I was in Texas while education reform happened. I parented a child who matriculated through the public school system in the first class to which Bush's major reform applied; the "No Social Promotion" law which was the precursor to his presidential No Child Left Behind program (Amusing contradicition in terms, of course; leaving a child behind to redo a grade in the name of not leaving him/her behind).

      When Bush became Governor he inherited a state in which the law had already long contained a provision in state law to address the problem. It required, if a child was identified as "at risk" by, among other things, failure of a standardized assessment test, that chiuld was to be given a program of compensatory education designed to get him or her up to grade level "by the end of the next regular term."

      Efforts by minority lawmakers to get this law effectively enforced led many school districts to seek elimination of what was known as the "Comp Ed" statute. When a school finance
      reform overhaul was needed, the Republican Senator who chaired the Education Committee, Bill Ratliff also wanted to overhaul the entire Education Code and include accountability measures. He sided with the school districts on Comp Ed, but sympathized with the goals of the minority lawmakers pushing for better service to disadvantaged or lower performing kids.
      As a result he did what BOB preaches with regard to school performance data. He based the entire accountability system on measuring and rating schools and school districts (not teachers) on the disaggregated performance of students on assessment tests. Schools would receive a grade based in part on how well each group of lowest performing students scored. Thus a school or a a majority of white students could be given a failing grade if its black, Hispanic, or low income students failed, even if overall achievement scores were at the passing level or the scores of white or affluent student soared.
      The requirement to bring a child up to grade level "before the end of the next regular term" remained in law.

      This reform, more than anything else, has helped Texas improve is test scores. It was passed under Governor Ann Richards.


    3. Is it a surprise when a state that believes in testing and spends time teaching to the test winds up doing better on the tests?

    4. No. Is it a surprise when states that do not believe in testing and teach to no measurable objective do poorly when their students take any type of standardized test?


    5. Is it a surprise that you "parented" a child? No, what's that other thing?

      Oh, yeah. Dismay.

    6. "Hey, Daddy! What did you do today?"

      "Well, sweety, I berated a writer on his blog, and called his readers sheep for liking him. I call myself King Zarkon of Doom. Pretty cool, huh?"

      "Uh...Da..Da..Dad...would you mind if I told the other kids that you're my uncle? Or maybe the guy next door? You know...we'll be buds or something."

    7. The Bobbsey twins.

    8. Likely parented a child as they matriculated through youth detention.

    9. Well, I see the BOBfans are incapable of doing anything but insulting someone that has demonstrated he is not part of their tribe, even when that person presents something that basically endorses a basic tenet of their idol.

      Cecelia, I won't insult your parenting, nor make any other insult. I will note, that should you have a child, you will have to explain, by your attempt at humor, why you sit around all day signing the praises of a blogger as if he were your personal deity and never offering the most minute original thought.

      I could suggest you are mad, not because I defended a BOBposition this time, but I insulted two of your conservative friends, the worst President in modern history and the stupidest Governor we have let crawl out of the corral to embarrass Texas across the country to a greater extent than we normally do. BTW, for the record, Bush was from Connecticut. Educated there and at BOB's alma mater. He couldn't get into the post graduate program he applied for in Texas.

      deadrat, I could try and insult you back, but as is the case with any attempt at serious discussion, it would fly right past your ears even if it hit you square in the middle of the head.


    10. KZ,

      Oh, well played! I see what you did there. You feinted at the high ground of claiming not to insult me, and then went for the devastating retort and somewhat-mixed metaphor of serious discussion passing me right by.

      And you might be right about my inability to comprehend serious discussion. However, nothing you've posted has come close to constituting a test of that proposition. Not that I don't appreciate performance art. Some are mere students at playing a self-satisfied asshole online. You are a master, and I appreciate mastery in all its multifarious forms. I always read your comments, although the contorted logic of the longer comments usually loses me halfway through. Maybe it's just me, but the similar posted views of others leads me to believe otherwise. Maybe it's just everybody else.

      For the record, I believe that George W. Bush is not just the worst President in modern history, but the Worst President Ever. In fact, that's what the W stands for. But he's not the stupidest Governor of Texas, not by a long shot. Ma and Pa Ferguson, Pappy O'Daniel, and lesser known lights of Texas politics make W look good. Or at least better by comparison.

      W may have been born in Connecticut (1946), but his father George "Herbert Hoover" Bush moved the family to Texas in in 1948. W was "educated" in Midland, TX (public); Houston, TX (private), Andover, MA (private), in addition to a college in New Haven, CT, which became his alma mater 1968 after he had successfully majored in fraternities and secret societies. TDH's alma mater is Harvard College; The WPE attended Harvard Business School.

    11. KZ, if I were concerned and offended about someone insulting Gov. perry or Pres. Bush, I wouldn't be here.

      deadrat, seems to have an outright animus for Bush and that bothers me not at all. deadrat is very caustic and that doesn't bother me either.

      That is because holding my opinions and outlook is not criteria for my enjoying well-intentioned and intelligence people and their thoughts.

      On the other hand, King Zarkon of Doom, you are a narcissistic troll with an animus toward a blogger.

      That's quite a difference.

    12. The Bobbsey twins, part 2.

    13. CeceliaMC I have no idea what your opinions of Bush and Perry are. I am simply using the same false projection methodology on them you use to state I am pissed at BOB based on the ideological targets of his criticism.

      I'll say it one more time. My problem with BOB is the hypocrisy with which he levels that criticism. Criticizing others for practices you engage at the same time you are leveling that criticism is a source of simultaneous amusement and disappointment.

      deadrat, my reference to stupidest governor of Texas was aimed at Perry, not Bush, the second of Cecelia's two conservative friends I mentioned, who were named in the opening comment to which I replied.


    14. Yeah, I know, KZ.

      Again, grow the hell up.

    15. KZ,

      I'll try once more to explain. I doubt it will have much effect. In fact, I'm hoping it won't have much effect, since I enjoy your performances so much.

      I think we can sum up TDH with the imperative "Don't make shit up." Specifically,

      1. Don't pretend the trivial is important by consistently wasting time on nonsense. Insert a typical Dowd column here as a cautionary example.

      2. Don't rely on pleasing narrative instead of checking the facts. Gore neither claimed to have invented the internet nor discovered Love Canal, so don't say otherwise. Finland is not educational heaven, so don't say that either.

      3. Don't nutpick. The worst is not usually the typical. Klayman is not every Republican or even every Tea Partier.

      4. Don't reify abstractions. Groups are not persons; they are collections of different persons, most often with a range of feelings, beliefs, and understandings. So don't call all Tea Partiers Klansmen.

      TDH rarely does any of these things. His targets are specific and typical. His complaints are about actions.

      Not good enough for you?

  2. Bob, the data are fascinating. I have been working through various states.

  3. The Colorado amendment was about increasing the variety of funding sources for charter schools.
    Gates is pushing this all over the country, although this the first statewide effort I've seen.

  4. This is a similar issue they pushed in Columbus, Ohio.

    These are mostly about finding public funding sources for charters, although the Colorado initiative was spun as "for ALL the children".

    Incidentally, the Columbus levy failed too, and it was the first school levy failure there in 23 years.