A parcel tax measure for the L.A. Unified School District went down to defeat—an ugly defeat, not even achieving a majority—in a recent special election. But the measure’s biggest backers are responding in ways that show they haven’t learned their lesson.

Instead of taking stock of the campaign’s many mistakes, they are suggesting they were victims of circumstance, and want to try again. They say that the special election was the wrong moment (we’ll win next year when the electorate is bigger and more progressive). And they are busy coming up with other tax measures to take back to the voters.

They are badly underestimating L.A. voters—and the verdict they just received. Voters want to support L.A. Unified and other essential public services. And they’ve been willing to tax themselves repeatedly to do so—note everything from the past generation’s school bond campaigns to multiple sales tax increases to fund transit.

But they don’t want to be played for suckers. And it’s obvious that is what the school district, the teachers’ union, Mayor Garcetti, and the political elite were doing in supporting Measure EE.

The measure was clearly rushed. It contained a significant error that was corrected without good process. And it came on top of a strike that confirmed the public judgment that the district and union don’t actually have the interests of children and communities at heart.  Why shut down a school district in L.A. for a week when there was agreement on most big issues? The reason was the union’s desire to build political momentum for tax increases—which is an awful reason for a strike.

There’s also the failure of the district and the union to reckon with LAUSD’s biggest financial problems—its declining enrollment, and its soaring retirement costs. If the union and district were to tackle the retirement piece in a fair and painful way, I suspect you’d see widespread public support for more taxes for the district.

It also would help to have the business community behind any such measure—not opposing it, as many business groups did with Measure EE. That business opposition, and this big defeat, raises the question of why businessman Austin Beutner remains the superintendent of L.A. Unified. The biggest reason for hiring Beutner was his ability to bring business support. If he can’t deliver that support, or even get the basics of a ballot measure right, what is he doing in that job?

Voters aren’t saying they won’t help LAUSD. But they aren’t asking for yet another ballot measure. LAUSD and its union need to address their real problems first—then come back to ask for more money.