Editor’s note: This commentary is by Chaunce Benedict, of Swanton, who served in Vermont schools for 37 years as a classroom teacher, principal and superintendent.
Act 46 supporters have been busy continually retelling us — over and over — the happy Act 46 bedtime story. In the retellings there are celebrations, claims of validation and assertions that “it’s working.” Indeed some mergers have been forged; many in locations where merger work was already underway. Oh, so happy.
Yet experiences with Act 46 in scores of communities are highlighting a very different story: a very unhappy one. Not the “communities are having a wonderful talk about the future of their schools” story. Not the “Let’s face our challenges and in the process strike a blow for democracy” story and not the “Hooray for the enlightened communities that said yes” and, “They’ve taken the opportunity to forge a new path toward amazingly improved and efficient 21st century schooling” stories.