How did education fare in this election? In California, voters choose higher taxes over cutting school budgets

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 7 2012 12:19 p.m. MST

In this Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 photo, students study in a library on the campus of California State University, Long Beach in Long Beach, Calif.

Associated Press

Six states had education initiatives on their ballots this year. Here is how the voters decided:

Money for schools

California voters cast their ballots in favor of education yesterday, approving Proposition 30 to temporarily raise income taxes for the wealthiest citizens and add a quarter of a cent sales tax for all.

In the first year and in every year after, the tax is expected to provide $500 million for education, a windfall Gov. Jerry Brown campaigned for, saying the money was needed to save public schools from major cuts.

A different education funding proposal, which some education advocates worried could spoil the vote for Proposition 30, was defeated by Californians. That measure, introduced late in the campaign season, would have permanently taxed corporate profits on businesses from out of state.

In Sacramento, a satisfied Gov. Brown responded to the results, saying, "We have a vote of the people — I think the only place in America where a state actually said let's raise our taxes for our kids, for our schools, for our California dream.''

Indeed, in Arizona, voters defeated a proposition to raise sales tax to fund education, transportation and human services.

Charter schools

Washington state will now allow charter schools for the first time ever. This was the fourth time a charter school initiative appeared on the ballot in Washington. Each previous initiative was defeated, but this one passed. The proposal will allow up to eight new charter schools to open in each of the next five years.

Voters in Georgia, meanwhile, approved an initiative to allow the state board of education to approve charter schools for communities even if the local school boards have rejected them.

Teacher unions and merit pay

In Idaho, voters have repealed unpopular reforms to tie teacher pay to test scores and limit the power of teachers' unions in collective bargaining with the state. They also repealed a law requiring laptops for all students, saying the requirement was only guaranteed funding for the first year.

Finally, in South Dakota, voters rejected an education package that would have given bonuses to top-performing teachers and afforded funding for recruiting teachers to high-needs areas.

Gretchen Krebs has taught general and special education in New York and Utah. She is passionate about finding innovative approaches to meet the needs of all students. Contact her at gkrebs@deseretnews.com

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