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Gazette Story Highlights Union Maneuver around Tax Hike Election

Independence Institute’s senior education policy analyst was quoted in a September 22 Colorado Springs Gazette story about union political maneuvers around Amendment 66, the statewide education tax increase proposal. The article by Megan Schrader highlights an August 26 State Board of Education decision extending the deadline to file suit against Colorado’s 2010 tenure and evaluation reform law until after the election:

“It’s a balancing act between policy on one hand and politics on the other,” said Ben DeGrow, senior education policy analyst with the Independence Institute.

“Extending the deadline and delaying a lawsuit is a way to get legs under the law and make sure the improved evaluation system gets the chance to take effect in Colorado. On the other hand, the timing is very suspect because the union is interested in passing a billion-dollar tax increase and doesn’t want to scare away taxpayers.”

The Gazette notes that one leading business group, Colorado Concern, decided to actively oppose the Amendment 66 tax hike as a result of learning about the potential union legal action. The 2010 law, originally known as Senate Bill 191, requires teachers to prove effectiveness on standard evaluations in order to earn and keep tenure protections. The law also ends the practice of forcing principals to accept ineffective teachers who have left another school.

Last December the Denver Classroom Teachers Association publicly protested portions of the new law. Union leaders this year have been leading financial backers of Amendment 66, advertised in part as a mechanism to fund K-12 reform programs. Following the State Board of Education’s emergency decision, the deadline to challenge the law — being implemented this year in schools across Colorado — moved from August 31, 2013, to February 1, 2014.

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