This thoughtful commentary on the current consolidation debate is from Rama Schneider, an elected member of the Williamstown school board:
The Vermont House Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on the future of education in Vermont.
The public hearing will be held in the Theater of the Rutland High School, 22 Stratton Road, Rutland VT between 5:00 PM and 6:30 PM on February 27, 2014.
Beginning at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2014, those wishing speak at the public hearing may sign up outside of the Theater.
School Choice Vermont encourages your attendance and adding your voice to the conversation. Public hearings usually allow each person to speak for two or three minutes. They are a respectful and supportive atmosphere where you can share your thoughts with legislators who will be designing future bills, taking your input into consideration.
Please share with these lawmakers, the value in full educational choice, and how powerfully it has impacted the well-being of your child.
Movement Toward School District Consolidation Would Likely Eliminate School Choice in Tuitioning Towns
This VT Digger article written by Anne Galloway reviews the current movement underway in Montpelier to consolidate school governance. What is going unsaid is that towns with parental choice / tuitioning for their students, would no longer have that option.
Vermont is a diverse educational landscape, over 90 towns tuition their students. Generally we assume that our local educational system is representative of the rest of the state. This simply is not true. Burlington's system is different than Grand Isle's system, or Manchester's system, or Hancock's system. The folks in Montpelier working on this proposal are from communities that are not tuitioning towns.
We'll keep you posted on developments and how to make your voice heard at the appropriate time. In the meantime, please check in with your local legislators (a phone call or email is fine, and politely let them know you have concerns about the loss of choice as it currently exists, and ask them to keep an eye on this consolidation movement. Perhaps forward them the VT Digger article. Help them stay informed. Encourage others to reach out to as well.
And finally, forward this article to your local school board. School boards are generally informed by the Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), however the VSBA is supporting the consolidation agenda. Your busy school board members need your support to stay informed of all perspectives on this issue.
Rob Roper of the Ethan Allen Institute, and Paul Cillo of the Public Assets Institute.
This article from True North Reports shares some facts about the changes happening at North Bennington. What happens when there is a commitment to quality, without the regulations imposed on public schools? Note a reduction in teaching staff, an increase in offerings including foreign language, collaboration with local resources, and curriculum flexibility.
This VT Digger article: Stakeholders Reach Compromise Over Independent School Requirements provides a helpful overview of initial discussions at the State House regarding required offerings at indie schools that accept publicly funded students.
Pay close attention to the two things happening. The ideology coming from all sides, which will inform you on why certain positions are being held – and the positions being pushed forward, note the positions people are willing to acquiesce. Battle lines are being drawn.
Your comments are welcome below.
From the Manchester Journal: School Choice Debate Sparks Discussion
Were you there? What are your thoughts on the reasoning each side presented?
Courtesy of local public television. Thank you Rob Roper of EAI for sharing the link of last months' debate filmed on-site at Lyndon Institute.
Public to Private: Could "Conversion" Become a Trend in Vermont Schools?
A step forward has been taken...
Your steadfast support of school choice this legislative session has resulted in the passage of H.771 a bill that will modestly expand public high school choice in Vermont - some would say against fairly heavy odds. Well done!
The voices of parents and educators has made all of the difference in the conversation. You wrote letters, you shared information with friends, family and community members, you testified before the committees by phone or in person, and you made phone calls to the state house to share your support. Your actions made all of the difference.
So what will this bill do for school choice in Vermont? Geographic boundaries are removed, and enrollment rules are a bit broader. Stay tuned for a "translation" of the bill. If you can't wait, check out this PDF, on page 1828 for the language in the bill.