Students from Websterville Christian Academy, Thaddeus Stevens School in Caledonia County, and home schoolers gathered today, Friday January 27 at the Vermont State House to celebrate National School Choice Week.
“Many may not know it, but Vermont actually pioneered the concept of school choice more than a century and a half ago,” coordinator Brad Ferland said. “The town tuitioning program, created in 1869, allows families living in towns without public schools to select other schools, whether public or private.”
Ferland noted in a published statement, “We believe that expanding and revitalizing Vermont’s historic school choice program will help to revitalize the state’s rural communities, and ultimately its economy. More, and better, quality educational options will encourage families to move from urban centers to Vermont—or will keep families thinking of moving elsewhere to maintain their roots in the Green Mountain State.”
“Over the years we have heard testimony of students who exercised choice for many reasons. Academic offerings specific to a child’s needs. Bullying, classes too large, social issues, personal issues, family issues. On and on. Something wasn’t working. And we don’t see a giant exodus of students leaving the public schools. School Choice helps serves a population in need, a population that can do better in new settings. And it works both ways. From public to private, from private to public,” Ferland said.
Students received a tour of the State House, and were reminded that the capitol building belongs to them as much as it belongs to any adult – and perhaps more so because they have more of their lives ahead of them.
Good job kids, and thank you parents!
In the 30 years I’ve been advocating School Choice, one of the greatest benefits I see (and there are many) in those districts allowing it, is the change in attitude across the board, with students, parents, and teachers, when they become stakeholders instead of mere participants. ‘People become more determined when their needs for competence, relatedness, and autonomy are fulfilled. They tend to be happier when pursuing things that are intrinsically motivated and aligned with their own goals – it not only makes them feel more responsible about the outcomes, it also helps them to focus their time on what they want to be doing.’
“Promoting self-determination is also an emerging best practice when working with certain populations, such as individuals with intellectual disabilities.”
Handbook of Evidence-Based Practices in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
In the final analysis, there is NO reason to prohibit School Choice. And those who do argue against it are suspect. They are either oblivious to the damage they are doing, or they’re being coerced by a conflict of interest. The argument for spending public tax dollars only in the public-school monopoly, for example, emphasizes the dichotomy. This contention focuses only on controlling the money and the people it’s intended to serve.
The question that perplexes most of us to this day is – how do we convince our elected representatives to legislate School Choice when they receive so much money and support from the special interest groups that currently control the State’s single largest generator of cash-flow? Answer this question. Save Vermont.