Prop. 103 supporters: You can still donate more of your own earnings to tax-funded schools

November 14th, 2011 by Brian T. Schwartz Categories: Opinion Editorials, education, taxes No Responses
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This article was printed in the Boulder Daily Camera on November 5, 2011.

To paraphrase Mark Twain: Don’t let funding schools interfere with funding students’ education. Boulder Senator Rollie Heath was behind the defeated Proposition 103, the proposed tax increase for Colorado’s tax-funded schools. “I just don’t know how far in education cuts we’ll have to do before people realize what we’re doing,” he told the Daily Sentinel after the election.

Heath implies that increasing school funding improves students’ education. Where’s the evidence?  As I documented in a recent Denver Post op-ed, national standardized test scores for 17-year-olds have been essentially flat since the early ’70s, while real-dollar per-pupil spending has doubled since then.

Increased spending didn’t increase test scores, but it increased teacher employment. Since the early ’70s student-to-teacher ratios decreased by almost a third. Employment in K-12 schools doubled, though student enrollment increased by just 10%.

Prop. 103 was really a Democratic Party fundraiser. Hiring more teachers sends more tax revenue to teachers unions. The unions almost exclusively support Democrat politicians, who when elected push for higher school taxes, and hence more money for unions that supported their campaign. These politicians also oppose school choice, and hence protect tax-funded schools as a monopolistic cartel.

Don’t fret if you supported Prop. 103. You’re still free to donate more of your earnings to tax-funded schools. You just can’t force others to do so.  But if you really care about quality education, you should support efficient schools that provide quality education at low cost, rather than letting politicians determine where your money goes.

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Update:  Oddly, the website for the Boulder Valley School District does not make it easy for people to donate to the district itself or specific schools. But the District has received more than $2 million in annual donations. I did find the following: