View on WCAX http://www.wcax.com/story/31541324/critics-take-on-shumlins-education-initiatives
Vermont's Board of Education says signature education initiatives by Governor Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont, are actually just subsidies for the well-to-do.
The board takes aim at two recent laws. One expanded access to college courses for those in high school while the other provides vouchers to parents of pre-kindergartners.
While lawmakers passed both bills with the intent of closing achievement gaps between poor students and their financially better-off peers, the state board argues the acts are having the opposite effect.
In a recently passed resolution, the board calls on the Legislature to fix what it calls "structured inequities" and calls the programs subsidies for the "middle-class and affluent."
In a letter to legislators, board member Bill Mathis writes, "This will only exacerbate our achievement gap and equity problems. It could prove to be the basis for legal action against the state."
The resolution calls for the Legislature to take immediate action.
Vermont Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe works directly with the Board of Education. She says she has heard anecdotal evidence to support the board's position, but has not seen data yet.
Holcombe says any big change often leads to calls for tweaks, but she won't be among those voices this year.
"We're really just at the beginning and there's too much at stake here to make changes without actually having them be informed by experience and data, that would be irresponsible," said Holcombe.
Holcombe says even if the full potential of the bills has not been met, they are making a difference.
Agency of Education data shows pre-K enrollment up 57 percent since 2011 while the number of college courses taken by high schoolers since 2013 is up 150 percent.
Holcombe says she has not heard any concerns raised about a potential lawsuit until Tuesday.
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