By Guy Page
Essex-Westford School Board member Liz Cady has resigned over frustration with the board leadership’s unwillingness to “engage in two-way dialogue with the public.”
Cady was elected last year as a ‘dark horse’ candidate committed to more openness to parents about diversity-equity-inclusion education and other school programs.
Cady today shared with Vermont Daily Chronicle the letter she has already sent to board members, and which they have already shared with the press. The letter appears below:
When I was elected to the board, I had one goal in mind: to make the board more accessible and approachable to those who have concerns and criticisms.
After over a year, I can honestly say that goal has not been achieved. If anything, it is worse.
Board leadership has spent a wasteful amount of time admonishing me for doing exactly what this board does not: engage in two-way dialogue with the public. This has served to further how unapproachable board leadership is to not just other board members but to the very public they are supposed to represent.
I hope my fellow board members have noted the hypocrisy in which board leadership corresponds with members of the public: those who send praise and applause will receive immediate responses while those with differing views are treated with responses that do nothing to answer their concerns and effectively silences them into knowing how futile it is to contact the board…if they receive a response at all. Many of these emails with concerns are never answered.
Board leadership’s intolerance of differing viewpoints shows there is no real desire to best represent the entire community, but rather shows they have a narrowly pointed agenda the community must follow. Several board members do not agree with this, but remain primarily silent in front of the group or in public – they are complicit in cultivating an atmosphere of intolerant, political tribalism where dissenting voices from the community are actively blocked and attacked, instead of being afforded the mutual respect of a listening ear and critical thought given to their words.
Disagreement is always okay; exclusive intolerance and suppression of dissent is not.
I cannot effect change while constrained as a member on this board and so tender my resignation, effective immediately.
And so the Communists win.
Please everyone, understand that the public education system is rigged. So-called local governance by an elected school board is the wolf in sheep’s clothing. The system is designed to be dysfunctional. Parents like Liz Cady get involved because parents everywhere are chastised for not doing their share. But when they do, they inevitably hit the brick wall of the public-school monopoly. For one thing, parents like Liz Cady have little understanding of how the education system works in the first place. And folks like Liz never intend to be professional education providers anyway. Once their kids move on, so do they.
The only systemic change that will correct our dystopian education culture is the creation of an educational free market. Let the education professionals start their own teaching businesses – and let parents choose the education provider they believe best meets the needs of their children.
Take politics out of the system. The only thing the Vermont community needs to do is determine the extent to which they want to support the public’s educational ‘equal access’. Pick a number. Currently, the Agency of Education provides what is called the Average Announced Tuition – the average cost of educating students in Vermont.
The 2022-2023 Average Announced Tuition of Union Elementary Schools is $16,020.00.
The 2022-2023 Average Announced Tuition of Union 7th-12th Grade Schools is $17,278.00.
When a student who lives in a ‘Tuitioning’ district chooses an independent school, the AOE agrees to provide a voucher for these amounts. It’s just that simple. Let the schools manage themselves. Let the schools succeed or fail of their own fruition and management. Let the schools compete for these students. Let customer service rule the roost. Let ‘free market’ democracy take the place of our existing political cronyism.
What concerns me is the number of times I’ve made this recommendation. When will we learn that electing school board directors merely adds fuel to this dysfunctional culture? No two people will ever agree on what educational pedagogy should be assigned to an entire community. ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL! Never has. Never will.
So, how do we get there?
Use the judicial system. The Vermont Supreme Court ruled in the 1997 Brigham v. State case that… “To keep a democracy competitive and thriving, students must be afforded equal access to all that our educational system has to offer.”
When students in certain districts are denied the Average Announced Tuition provided parents in other school districts, the Bringham decision is being breached. There are, currently, several court cases challenging the AOE in this regard. It’s time for parents AND taxpayers to form their own class-action lawsuits against the AOE. This is the only way School Choice can be made available to everyone.
And, yes… there are those of you who will say the Vermont community (i.e., taxpayers) shouldn’t be paying for any student’s ‘equal access’ to education. Don’t provide any taxpayer funds to anyone. That’s ‘equal’ isn’t it?
To that I say that my recommendation does not preclude that scenario as an alternative. But we have to crawl before we walk. And walk before we run. If we can agree to provide every parent the Average Announced Tuition, whatever it happens to be, at least we’re enabling parents and their children to choose, to have some skin in the game. And there is nothing in the Average Announced Tuition methodology prohibiting a decrease in that tuition amount. In fact, as schools become more and more competitive, they figure out how to do so for less and less funding. Forty years ago, I paid $3000 for a computer with 4K of RAM. Today, I pay half that amount for a computer with ten million times that computing power… because computer production is based on free markets.
We can only imagine how effective and inexpensive our education system will become when we allow the same free market entrepreneurism to determine the education market.
School Choice – will fix everything!
oh my gosh…..Yes H. Jay Eshelman!!! This system we have does NOT want competition…..band together parents…….and go for this best possible solution. I am well past raising my children, but I support this 100%. Thankyou H.Jay Eshelman!
Well now neighbors, has HJE hit it of not? Teachers have skills…unleashem. Thank you Mr. Eshelman. Very clearly put.
Thank you Liz for your service to the community and giving voice to all the unheard and ignored district voices’. It is disgusting that a school district would take people’s tax money and willfully ignore their concerns. I do not blame you for resigning. What a terrible existence it would be to have to function in such an environment. I am just completing my move out of Essex, as I refuse to pay taxes in such an intolerant and politically biased community. One that fires kids for stating their opinion and then uses tax tayer funds to buy their silence. One that seggregates children to Affinity spaces and enforces race-based discussion. It is a violation of the Civil Rights Act to force children to participate in this type of compelled speech. A conversation that labels white children as oppressors, and BIPOC children as oppressed. I hope more hardworking people leave Essex and take their tax money with them. My new community is in Addison County. I have spoken to many community members and some educators about what is occuring in Essex and they are shocked. People here are much more willing to respect diverse views, and are generally patriotic.
Thank you, Liz – I admire your efforts and attempted service.
Here is a question for you and the rest of Vermont … What percentage of the board members are:
1. Teachers from another district?
2. Former teachers?
3. Spouses of teachers?
4. Otherwise, with ties to the National Teachers Association?
The answers will be revealing.
School Choice would be a giant step toward education equity and excellence – Let’s go!!
School choice as in money follows student? Why does anyone think that will fix anything in the long run. That’s taking govt $ and moving it to smaller schools. In time they’ll tell you how to run the smaller schools and demand you comply. What you need is private schools that DO NOT take govt money. Most parents won’t want to make that sacrifice.
Please read my comment above.
Send your kids to private school.
Yes. The only way to overcome the tyrannical public school beast is to starve it.
Thank you, Liz Cady. Unfortunately, you have discovered and experienced what is common of many different Boards, Advisory Panels and even governmental bodies from local to statewide.
Diversity, Inclusion & Equity (DIE) interpreted:
Diversity = Conformity
Inclusion = Exclusion
Equity = Socialism
Class action lawsuits are very effective. Woke school board members will scatter into the wind if they are hit with claims and charges. Follow the money – surety bonds – violations of Constitutional and God given, natural rights. Derelict of duty and violating oath of office. Is there an attorney licensed in Vermont who would leap at the chance to go after policy limits and punitive damages for a thousand or so plaintiffs? Any bureaucrat or elected official wants people to think they have power and authority over another person. They don’t. The accountability is on the People to take action and let them know who has the real power. Vermont is a small State. If it’s worth saving, start filing affidavits. The information is all available online.
“Vermont is facing at least its second lawsuit in four months over a voucher program that allows students in communities that don’t have schools or are not part of supervisory unions to attend schools of their choice.”
School choice statewide…….end of story, improved education which is what all parents want for their children no matter what income bracket one is in……..School Choice Now Movement..sounds good to me!!
When the board goes hungry, don’t feed them.
You have to give it to this woman…mother…citizen. She made a gallant effort to use the forum available to the citizenry to make the differences among families heard by the overlords. She failed…or better yet …she was thwarted. The very structure of the public school is bound to disappoint families trying to use these schooling service, teachers and curriculum to educate their kids. We continue to be in distress about what goes on in the school system. Isn’t it becoming clear that such a monolithic system is not amenable to adjustments from such a diverse constituency? What’s offered is determined by the providers, not families as citizen/customers. This structural flaw guarantees disappointed. This painful problem will persist until families have direct control of the resources for schooling. …until families can contract with the teachers for the curriculum and services they want as part of educating their kids.
well said Curtis