The Vermont Legislature has a tiger by the tail. Its education governance reform bill (H.361) is going to push our public school system into confusion, anxiety and anger.
School “governance reform,” a euphemism for school consolidation, was the product of a coincidence of interest between liberal education reformers and conservative budget hawks. The reformers wanted a more centralized educational system with fewer local school boards that think they know as much as the bureaucracy about how to run a good school. The budget hawks wanted a cheaper education system, whether it runs good schools or not.
Both got what they wanted and did double damage to Vermont’s education system in the process. On the one hand, it will be more bureaucratic and less democratic, and on the other, inadequately funded.[…]
The political implications of the new school consolidation law may become clearer as school districts begin to grapple with the choices forced upon them by the state. Those implications may become more damaging to Democrats if House Speaker Shap Smith decides to run for governor.
Superintendents and school boards throughout the state are holding meetings to discuss what they must do to comply with mandates from the state that they must somehow reshape their school boards or districts or face penalties imposed by the state. The whole reform program has been pushed as a way to create new efficiencies and save money for taxpayers, but some school boards are already questioning whether the changes will save money at all. Many legislators had the same misgiving about the law.
The law was pushed strongly by Smith. Some Democrats who feared the new law would erode local governanc...
You didn’t have to go to school with Twinfield Union School’s graduating class to understand their closeness. It’s obvious.
During their 90-minute commencement exercise Saturday morning, the 25 members of the class of 2015 repeatedly pointed to how much their small school and its tight-knit community has meant to them, and how much it will serve them in the future. Many of the graduates have been together from kindergarten through this year — or 13 years. One student jokingly referred to that time as “an eternity.”
All three student speakers — Valedictorian Katharine Mayo, Salutatorian Ella LaBrusciano-Carris and class Secretary Morgan MacIver — referenced small class sizes, the availability of teachers and staff, or how everyday citizens involved with the school all had deeply affected their student lives. In fact, LaBrusciano-Carris said when she had the choice to go to a...
A well-known optical illusion shows two silhouetted faces in profile looking at each other. At first, most viewers just see the faces, then comes the sudden realization that there’s a contoured vase between them. Even though this image is only a simple drawing, it’s compelling. It engages us as we focus, and then focus again. The face? Or the vase?
In the education debate, we’ve focused a lot on faces: faces of taxpayers who want spending reduced, faces of children whose educations, we’re warned, range from excellent to below-par.
Consolidation advocates argue that students could benefit from more uniformity in education, and newly regionalized districts would be better able to move around resources and teachers, gaining efficiencies that could slowly save money.
But this law also pays towns to eliminate local school boards. Consider the impacts on the vase of community.[…]