As a Woodbury Elementary school board member and an Act 46 study committee member, I recently visited the four other elementary schools in our supervisory union. One of the most striking things I noticed seems overly simple at first: geography matters. All five schools are within a short distance of each other, yet are physically laid out in varying designs, built in different eras, and led by principals unique in background, personality and vision, creating individual physical schools with distinct climates that reflect the varied terrain of the towns. One school is beside a lake, another on a hillside.
Perhaps what most impressed me was that where a child attends a school significantly shapes that child’s education. While I’m profoundly sympathetic to the impetus to equalize educational opportunities for Vermont children, I have to question the wisdom of the current trend to homogenize education across the country as a whole, and particularly in our own state. A child living and educated in a rural town such as Woodbury will inherently have a different educational experience than a child attending a downtown city school. These different experiences need not necessarily translate into a competitive venue.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!