COLORADO: In one poor school district in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, students take classes in a bus garage, using plastic sheeting to keep the diesel fumes at bay. In another, there is no more money to tutor young immigrants struggling to read. And just south of Denver, a district where one in four kindergartners is homeless has cut 10 staff positions and is bracing for another cull.
For decades, schools like these have struggled to keep pace with their bigger and wealthier neighbors. On Tuesday, Colorado will try to address those problems with one of the most ambitious and sweeping education overhauls in the country, asking voters to approve a $1 billion tax increase in exchange for more school funding and an educator’s wish-list of measures.
The effort has touched off a fevered debate in a state that two decades ago passed one of the nation’s strictest limits on taxes and spending. It is emerging as the latest test of whether Democrats can persuade voters to embrace higher taxes by tying them to school funding.