Oregon ’s schools can continu e to teach English-language l earners in their native langu age for as long as they want.
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Tue Nov 18 18:39:36 UTC 2008
Education-Related Ballot Items Reflect Fiscal, Policy Concerns
Most Gambling Measures Pass as States Seek Revenue
By Michele McNeil
Maryland is getting slot machines in exchange for about $660 million
for education. Oregon's schools can continue to teach English-language
learners in their native language for as long as they want. And
Nebraska universities and school programs won't be able to use race as
a factor in admissions.
Far down on state ballots across the country, those and at least a
dozen other measures affecting education and hot-button social issues
were decided last week by voters.
The Maryland slot machine measure was the biggest gambling initiative
among the six states where voters weighed proposals either to produce
new revenue sources specifically for public schools or to alter the
flow of gambling-related money earmarked for education.
Protesters march down Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood,
Calif., on Nov. 5 during a "No on Prop 8" rally.
—Photo by Dan Steinberg/AP
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, many school districts, and the
teachers' union had endorsed the state constitutional amendment, which
supporters say would generate about $660 million a year in additional
general aid for schools. Proponents hope the revenue from 15,000 slot
machines can stave off deep cuts to K-12 education in the face of a
projected $1 billion budget deficit.
"We need these dollars, especially in these tough times," Gov.
O'Malley said in a televised interview Nov. 4, after the slots victory
Gambling measures also were approved in Arkansas, Colorado, and
Missouri, but voters turned down a proposal in Maine. They also
rejected an Oregon plan that would have redirected lottery money from
education to public safety. Ohio voters also said no to the state's
first casino, which would have created new general tax revenue for
counties. The counties could have chosen to use the additional funds
for education or other services.
ELL Cap Rejected
State Ballot Measures
Voters decided on a number of education-related issues:
Amendment 1—Allows the Alabama Trust Fund to re-establish the
rainy-day Education Trust Fund for up to 6.5 percent of the general
education budget—or $435 million for this year—in case of a budget
Amendment 3—Authorizes lotteries to fund scholarships and grants for
Arkansas residents in certain public and private nonprofit two- and
four-year colleges and universities in the state. (PASS)
Proposition 8—Eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry and
provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or
recognized in California. (PASS)
Amendment 46—Prohibits "preferential treatment" of any individual or
group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in
public employment, education, or contracting. (UNDECIDED)
Amendment 49—Prohibits public-employee payroll deductions for purposes
such as union dues or fees to other organizations. (FAIL)
Amendment 50—Expands gambling limits and funnels the resulting revenue
into community colleges in the state. (PASS)
Amendment 51—Raises sales taxes by 0.2 percent over two years and uses
the money to pay for services for children and adults with
developmental disabilities. (FAIL)
Amendment 54—Prohibits unions that contract with state or local
government from contributing to a political party or candidate during
the term of the contract and two years after, and prohibits
contributors to ballot-issue campaigns from entering into certain
government contracts relating to ballot issues. (PASS)
Amendment 58—Increases taxes paid on oil and natural-gas companies and
channels some of the increased revenue into college scholarships.
Amendment 59—Eliminates taxpayer rebates in the case of a revenue
surplus and instead puts the money into pre-K-12 public education.
Amendment 8—Clears the way for counties to levy optional local sales
taxes, subject to voter approval, to supplement community college
Amendment 2—Authorizes the use of county, municipal, and school tax
funds to pay for redevelopment programs, including repayment of
tax-allocation bonds. (PASS)
Amendment 1—Sets a three-term limit on members of the state school
board and the boards governing state colleges and universities. (PASS)
Question 2—Allows a casino in Oxford County and dedicates 11 percent
of the gross gambling income to college-tuition-finance programs,
community colleges, and local schools. (FAIL)
Question 2—Authorizes slot-machine gambling to help finance public
Question 1—Eliminates the state's personal-income tax, starting in
2010, and cuts it to 2.65 percent from 5.3 percent as of Jan. 1. 2009.
Proposition A—As part of a broader measure on gambling, increases the
casino-gambling tax and uses the proceeds for a new elementary and
secondary education improvement fund. (PASS)
I-155—Expands health coverage for uninsured children under the
Children's Health Insurance Program, the Montana Medicaid Program, and
employer-sponsored health insurance. (PASS)
Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative—Prohibits "preferential treatment" of
any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity,
or national origin in public education, employment, and contracting.
Constitutional Amendment 1—Increases to nine members, from seven, the
size of school boards in communities with populations greater than
Constitutional Amendment 4—Allows school board elections to be held at
the same time as other nonpartisan elections. (PASS)
Measure 54—Repeals the section of the state constitution that requires
voters in school board elections to be at least age 21, have lived in
the school district for at least six months, and be able to read and
write English. (PASS)
Measure 58—Puts limits on the amount of time non-English-speaking
public school students may be taught in a language that is not
Measure 60—Bases teacher pay raises on "classroom performance" and
prohibits districts from giving raises based on seniority. (FAIL)
Measure 62—Redirects the way money from state lottery proceeds is
distributed, pulling roughly $200 million every two years from
education funding to beef up law enforcement, criminal investigation,
and forensics. (FAIL)
Measure 64—Prohibits payroll deductions from public employees for
organizations, including unions, that support or oppose candidates,
political parties, initiatives, or ballot measures. (UNDECIDED)
Amendment 2—Allows investments in equities by trust funds set up to
pay retirement benefits, such as health insurance, for state employees
and teachers. (FAIL)
SOURCE: Education Week
Also in Oregon, voters defeated a pair of highly contentious ballot
questions, including one that would have put strict limits on
bilingual education and another that would have tied teacher raises to
classroom performance. A coalition that included state affiliates of
the National Education Association, the American Federation of
Teachers, and the Oregon PTA mobilized against both proposals.
The bilingual education measure, which drew national attention from
English-language-learner advocates, would have put a two-year cap on
instruction for such students in their native language. It went down
by a 53 percent to 47 percent vote.
Bill Sizemore, the sponsor of what was known as Measure 58 and a
resident of Klamath Falls, Ore., said he believes it would have passed
if the words "English immersion" had been inserted into the title.
He acknowledged that the language of the text was also confusing. Many
interpreted the measure as requiring a two-year cap on
English-as-a-second-language instruction as well, though Mr. Sizemore
said that was not his intention.
But James Crawford, the president of the Washington-based Institute
for Language and Education Policy, said he believes Oregon's voters
recognized Measure 58 as "the most extreme and mean-spirited of all
the English-only initiatives at the state level in recent years."
Mr. Crawford, who spent two weeks in Oregon before Election Day
helping local organizations fight the initiative, contended that it
was backed "by forces who were explicitly anti-immigrant, trying to
save money by shortchanging immigrant kids."
Social, Tax Issues
Nebraska and Colorado considered another controversial issue: a
proposed ban on government-preferential treatment of people based on
race, gender, or ethnicity.
Voters in the Cornhusker State approved such a prohibition in the form
of the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative, while a Colorado ban was
still too close to call late last week. The Denver-based National
Conference of State Legislatures said that if Colorado voted it down,
the state would become the first to reject an affirmative-action ban
when put before the electorate.
In Louisiana and New Mexico, voters approved changes in their
education governance structures. Members of the Louisiana state board
of education and the governing boards of public colleges and
universities will now be limited to three terms in office; the members
previously didn't face term limits. In New Mexico, the size of
district school boards in communities with populations greater than
200,000 will grow from seven to nine members, and school elections
will be held at the same time as other nonpartisan elections.
Around the country, voters also rejected tax changes tied to education
and children's services. Colorado voters turned down a plan to raise
the sales tax to help pay for services for children and adults with
developmental disabilities. Florida voters rejected a proposal to
allow counties to raise sales taxes to subsidize community colleges.
Massachusetts voters, meanwhile, chose to keep the state's income tax.
Education groups had warned that its elimination would hurt school
programs and services.
Oregon and Colorado voters also considered measures that would have
prohibited public-employee payroll deductions for "political"
purposes, such as union dues. Oregon voters rejected the measure,
while Colorado voters approved.
In California, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage
passed, despite strong opposition from the California Teachers
Association, which donated more than $1.3 million in an attempt to
defeat it. Supporters of the proposal had argued that schools would be
forced to teach about same-sex marriage unless the constitutional
amendment were passed.
The issue was about more than same-sex marriage, said Sonja Eddings
Brown, a spokeswoman for Protect Marriage California. The measure "is
about education," she said, "and whether or not parents and educators
want to have gay instruction brought into our elementary schools."
Assistant Editors Linda Jacobson and Mary Ann Zehr contributed to this story.
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