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Colo. Voters Reject Measure Promising Aid to Extend Learning Time

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By guest blogger Alyssa Morones

Colorado voters this week overwhelmingly rejected an ambitious ballot measure intended to deliver nearly $1 billion each year in new dollars for public education, including $100 million for initiatives to extend learning time.

The proposal, called Amendment 66, sought to change the state constitution to increase per-student spending on public education. When all votes were counted, citizens' rejection of the amendment echoed in the roughly two-thirds of voters who said "no," as Andrew Ujifusa reported over at State EdWatch.

The amendment would have raised an estimated $950 million for K-12 education in its first year alone. As we reported on this blog last month, one dimension of plans to spend the new revenue would have been the creation of an Innovation Fund. A majority of the $100 million targeted for this initiative was intended to support expanded learning time initiatives, with applications from schools struggling to meet state performance standards getting priority.

As State EdWatch explained, Amendment 66 was a big priority for school-funding advocates in Colorado, in particular Democratic state Sen. Mike Johnston, the architect of the school funding overhaul that got Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper's signature this year, but needed the approval by voters.Teachers' unions and others in the state pushed hard for the amendment, saying it would make up for years of difficult budget cuts, pay for a variety of K-12 policy changes, and direct more resources to needy students.

But opponents took sharp aim at the plan, calling it the wrong prescription for Colorado's economy during tough fiscal times, according to State EdWatch. Others said that there were no guarantees that the extra money would actually be directed to classroom services for minority and English-language learners, the purported beneficiaries of the plan.

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