Private school tuition bill goes to House floor tomorrow

By Guy Page

A bill critics inflicts hardships on private schools receiving public tuition will be debated on the floor of the Vermont House of Representatives tomorrow, Thursday March 23. 

H483, accountability and oversight of approved independent schools that are eligible to receive public tuition, is on today’s ‘notice calendar,’ indicating that the first of two hearings by the full House will be held tomorrow. If approved by the House tomorrow, the bill’s third and final reading will be scheduled for Friday. 

H483 is regarded as a public school “establishment” response to U.S. Supreme Court decision, Carson V. Makin, requiring religious schools be permitted to receive public school tuition from districts with no local high school. The bill would require all private schools (religious and secular) offer open enrollment, not being allowed to pick and choose among would-be enrollees. Supporters of Vermont’s many private schools receiving public tuition say this will impose a severe financial hardship on institutions that do not receive anywhere near the level of financial support as fully public schools. 

The bill also requires all public tuition recipients provide equal access and rights to LGBTQ students and staff, as required for public schools by the state’s public accommodations law. It is unclear whether such a provision would be at odds with Makin.

It also is not clear that the H483 enjoys sufficient rank-and-file support for passage. Although public school administrators, school boards and in particular teachers’ unions enjoy strong support in the Legislature, many lawmakers are concerned that many towns will be left without access to tuition-receiving private high schools. 

A private schools’ activist today told VDC that H483 supporters have been trying hard to rally support, but that the outcome is still uncertain as of this writing Wednesday afternoon. A lawmaker also said it’s doubtful – or at least unsure – whether the bill will pass as written. 

H483 was passed by the House Education Committee last week, hours before the Crossover deadline. It’s a fallback solution to a previous bill the Vermont Secretary of Education said he couldn’t support because it violated provisions in the Carson V. Makin decision. 

Categories: Education

8 replies »

  1. If there was ever a prime case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, this is it. What a gigantic waste of time, money, and attention. Our legislature is embarrassing.

    • This isn’t a waste of time or money for the legislature or the education special interest groups funding them – including the various unions and social service NGOs stalking their prey at the great public education watering hole. Education funding is, by far, the largest piece of the State’s budget pie gleaned from taxpayers.

      It’s all about money and the control of it. These people aren’t just an embarrassment. They’re selling the most expensive snake oil on the planet. What IS embarrassing is that Vermonters are buying it – even when it’s obvious that it is dangerous for their children to do so.

  2. All about control and power. I say we have school choice and eliminate Public school period. It’s nothing but a brain washing place for our youth.

    • Keep in mind that School Choice doesn’t eliminate ‘public schools’ or teacher unions. School Choice simply allows parents to choose the education programs they believe are best for their children.

      Who knows? When public schools are finally forced to compete in a free enterprise setting, they may rise to the occasion and actually improve.

      But one thing is certain. With out universal School Choice, the public-school monopoly will continue to terrorize children, parents, and taxpayers.

  3. So you’re going to punish the schools for not being all inclusive by excluding them from funding? So who’s the real close minded ones? I’ll give you a hint it’s not the schools.

  4. Public schools going down the drain in every way and Dems support it. Their feel good initiatives lower the bar in every way. Democrats disgust me and anyone with a brain.

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