Rick Gordon

Not the Vermont I know

The Act 46 process illustrates the blatant disregard by government officials for the intent of the Legislature, the will of voters, and the goodwill and expertise of school boards following the rules

Somehow, amidst all the national news on threats to our democracy, actions in Vermont to force mergers of school districts under the guise of Act 46 seem to be going under the radar.

The legislative intent of the original Act 46 was clear - the bill offered incentives for districts to “voluntarily” merge and directed a process for districts to form study committees to look at options to more effectively meet goals of equity, transparency, and efficiency.

The legislation clearly recognized no one solution for all districts, as it required citizens to vote on any plan and offered a process for proposing Alternative Governance Structures (AGS) where merging might not be the best way to achieve the stated goals.

As the AOE fact sheet on Act 46 states, “Act 46 acknowledges that the means to achieve the goals will vary depending on the specific circumstances of the school district or the region.”...

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Act 46 shell game

It should surprise no one, least of all our legislators, that we face an expected 8-cent increase in the education tax rate in the coming year. This increase was baked into the Act 46 school merger legislation when voters were offered a short- term 10-cent tax “incentive” to follow...

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It’s not about control

I wish reporters could stop using the term “local control” in reference to school governance and the interests expressed by citizens, such as in the resounding defeat of the Act 46 merger proposal in WSESU. I think what Vermonters want is less about control than it is about local...

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Looming threat

Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe writes a somewhat disingenuous op-ed in which she contends school choice is not threatened by Act 46 and that voters in their communities ultimately decide whether to continue tuitioning to allow each family to find a school that best fits their child's needs. In fact, Act 46 provides a variety of incentives, penalties, and rules that work against individual communities freely choosing their direction. The preferred option laid out in the law would eliminate choice for...

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One-size-fits-all solution won't work for our schools

Feeling compelled to do something about education costs in Vermont, legislators passed a poorly considered, last-minute bill that will result in fewer educational opportunities while doing nothing to reduce taxes. This bill is flawed in numerous ways, most notably in its inflexible disregard of the unique circumstances of different districts, schools, and regions. Act 46 provides significant financial incentives for districts to consolidate. But it stipulates that these consolidated districts meet highly restrictive criteria, including that the combined districts must...

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No child through the cracks

Almost every day, I get a call from a parent, a therapist, or a teacher desperately looking for some hope to help a struggling adolescent.  The symptoms I hear about vary - poor academic performance, feelings of loneliness, victim of bullying by peers or adults, sadness, depression, persistent non-attendance at school, threats of personal harm. Adolescence can be a tough time, and being in a setting that isn't working for the student, for whatever reason, can make this period of...

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