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The Commons
Voices / Letters from readers

Educational advocacy groups promote an unpalatable gutting of local control with Act 46

Originally published in The Commons issue #416 (Wednesday, July 12, 2017).



The fur is starting to fly as a consequence of Governor Phil Scott’s willful misunderstanding of collective bargaining law as it applies to teacher health benefits and the continuing fallout from the pushback against the statewide school consolidations mandated under Vermont Act 46.

But one positive result of all this really bad politics has been the creation of a new school board advocacy group, the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members.

If you’re wondering how we ever got into such an unnecessary mess, it’s important to know that one of the principal instigators has been none other than the Vermont School Boards Association, which, since rewriting its bylaws last fall to exclude as much of their voting membership as possible from policy formulation, has cast itself in the unique position of actively advocating for putting local school boards completely out of business by its aggressive lobbying before the Legislature in favor of Act 46.

Just in case you didn’t know it, there is also a Vermont Principals Association and a Vermont Superintendent’s Association, which, along with the VSBA, are all conveniently housed under the same roof at 2 Prospect Street in Montpelier and which all use the same coffee machine and office copiers. No impermeable wall here among these various interests.

And it makes for an interesting comparison to the firewall that the VSBA has built between itself and the school boards.

As a result of that bylaw change, the voting members of the VSBA are no longer the local boards but rather school supervisory unions and the newly merged super districts, all with one vote each. Nice and tidy for stuffing an unpalatable agenda down our collective throats.

It adds up to a direct assault on the Vermont values embedded in our Town Meeting–style direct democracy, all of which are headed the way of the Dodo Bird as a likely consequence of this ill-informed gutting of local control.

Now would be a good time to get involved with the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members, even if you don’t sit on a school board, and help us put the brakes on this runaway train.

David Clark


Westminster

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