This commentary is by David F. Kelley, an attorney and a co-founder of Project Harmony (now PH International) who is chair of the Hazen Union School Board and coach of the debate team there and at Craftsbury Academy.
The authors of Act 46 said their goals were: 1. educational equity, 2. academic excellence, 3. efficiency, and 4. transparency. Only the Grinch who stole Christmas would oppose those goals.
But there is a serious disconnect between those goals and what Act 46 actually does. Act 46 does not reward equity. Act 46 does not reward academic excellence. It doesn’t reward efficiency, transparency or even making voters happy. Act 46 rewards school districts that adopt Montpelier’s “preferred structure.” Act 46 tells school districts we are going to give you money (and we’ll take it out of the state education fund) if you centralize your governance and adopt our “preferred structure” — that is to say, if you think inside our box and do away with local school boards. There is almost no empirical research that connects Montpelier’s preferred structure, with the professed goals. In fact, the experience of states like Maine and North Dakota would lead to a different conclusion. And if anyone thinks that a more centralized government is a more efficient government they need to stop taking psychedelic drugs.
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