Roper: The Blob seeks ways to continue discriminating against Christians

Push is on to end all school choice rather than let some parents choose Catholic schools for their kids.

Cesar Trigos, Vice Principal at Websterville Christian Academy in Barre explains the importance of school choice.

by Rob Roper

In the wake of the US Supreme Court Case, Carson v. Makin, which ruled states such as Vermont that have publicly funded school choice programs cannot discriminate against religious schools, the conglomeration of public school special interests made up of the teachers’ unions, superintendents, school boards, etc. – collectively known as The Blob – finally sees its chance to snuff out all its independent school choice competition. The Blob is banking on the idea that Vermonters would rather eliminate all school choice in Vermont than allow some – any – parents to choose to send their kids to a religious school with taxpayer dollars.

WCAX did a story this week (June 15, 2023) discussing the issue, noting that the Education Equity Alliance (what The Blob understandably prefers to call itself), “supported legislation that would have met the Supreme Court standard by eliminating private school choice, except at the four historic academies — St. Johnsbury, Lyndon, Burr and Burton, and Thetford — which operate as defacto public schools.” (That last point is not exactly accurate, but we’ll let it go for now.)

The WCAX piece stated in apparent support of The Blob’s position that, “Through a public records request, we learned that at least 53 students enrolled in these religious high schools [now] have their tuition paid with public dollars, at a total cost of almost $600,000,” adding here a rather snarky “cha-ching” sound effect over the video, presumably to underscore the notion that this is an expensive policy.  

But let’s look at those numbers for just a second…

$600,000 divided by 53 is $11,320 per kid. The average per pupil spending in Vermont’s public schools is $25,053, according the National Education Association’s calculations. So, by choosing to send a child to an independent religious school, parents are saving Vermont property taxpayers on average $13,733. That is, shall we say, quite a bit. Any and all “cha-chings” here fully accrue to the taxpayers’ benefit.

For a more specific example, the towns in Grand Isle County and Georgia of Franklin County in the northwest corner of the state are all tuitioning towns (meaning they enjoy school choice). Many parents choose to send their kids to the public South Burlington High School. The cost to do that for the 2023 school year is $17,378 per student. However, for the families who choose Rice Memorial High School, a Catholic school in Burlington, which is now an option following Carson v. Makin, the tuition cost to taxpayers is $12,900. Not as much savings as the averages, but still a lot. Certainly, worthy of a “cha-ching” for the property taxpayers of Grand Isle/Georgia.

Education, of course, is not just about money. It’s also about the quality of programs provided and student outcomes. So how do the religious schools stack up in the results column?

Sticking to the Rice example, according to its website, “Rice has 13 Honors classes and 15 AP classes accessible to all students. Rice is the only school in Chittenden County offering the prestigious Advanced Placement Capstone Diploma.” Rice students have average SAT scores that are more than twenty points higher than the state average, and 90 percent of graduates matriculate onto college.

More generally, an October 27, 2022 article in the Wall Street Journal analyzed the most recently published NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) scores and concluded, “Today, the divergence between Catholic schools and public ones is so great that if all U.S. Catholic schools were a state, their 1.6 million students would rank first in the nation across the NAEP reading and math tests for fourth and eighth graders.”

This is not a case of wealthy elites sending their children to exclusive private schools. Catholic schools are overwhelmingly lower cost than most private schools, and more economically diverse than public schools that restrict student access according to zip code (ie. segregated based on property value). And let’s not forget that when Covid hit, it was the Catholic schools that were the first to pay attention to the accurate science and re-open for in-person learning – a decision that put the best interests of students and families first. As such, if you were a Catholic school kid during Covid, you didn’t suffer two years of learning loss like your public school counterparts did.

Catholic schools also tend to attract more racially diverse student bodies as a disproportionate number of immigrants from dominantly Catholic Latin American countries, and African countries such as Nigeria, Uganda, and Tanzania gravitate toward Catholic schools for their children. Therefore, it is more than a bit ironic that the opponents of school choice cite “anti-discrimination” as a primary motive behind their desire to discriminate against religious schools and the families that would attend them.  

A Catholic education may not be for everybody, and the beauty of a school choice system is that it doesn’t have to be. If you prefer drag queen story hour to a prayer before meals for your child’s upbringing, you have your pick of institutions. After all, those folks in Grad Isle/Georgia can choose South Burlington High School, Milton, BFA, or anyplace else that makes the most sense for them. But when lawmakers move to take those choices away and make decisions for others’ children that rightly should be made by parents, they are doing damage to families, students, and, as shown above, to taxpayers. They do this for the purpose of satisfying their own anti-Christian prejudices, and/or to pay off the politically powerful, special interest public education Blob. Not the most noble of motivations, for sure.

Rob Roper is a freelance writer who has been involved with Vermont politics and policy for over 20 years. This article reprinted with permission from Behind the Lines: Rob Roper on Vermont Politics,

Categories: Commentary

11 replies »

  1. Their motives are more insidious than meets the eye. This is to disrupt social norms and traditional practices. Public funding of parochial schools is a venerable, and cost saving, practice.
    This should be a non-issue.

  2. “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought”: George Orwell.


      • I prefer George Carlin’s take on how language is weaponized and used to “soften” the Truth of harsh realities. Clif High has some good commentary on monitoring language and how it shapes narratives and societies.

      • No, you see, because the Bible is a known historic text, the Koran is not, and Jesus is the Christ and Mohammed is not. And genuinely following the relatively simple laws of the Ten Commandments or tenets of Judeo-Christianity never corrupts.

        In addition, nothing but such intrinsic good comes from following the path the Lord gave us in the N.T. — as opposed to following the paths of current leftist politicos which led us to the war & resultant death & destruction in Europe, Biden’s deep corruption in and allegiance to Communist China, boys believing they can turn into girls and vice versa, etc. See how that all works?

  3. Thank you for pointing out what I’ve been saying for years, that $25k per public school student is what is subsidized by the taxpayers of VT. Plus, the cost of attending UVM is way over-inflated now too. By way of comparison, one could still attend the University of Massachusetts (in-state) for $14677 (entire 2021-22 academic year), including all tuition and fees. Now I’m not advocating a move to MA, but you’d think UVM might be able to do a little better than $35654 per year. Yes, that includes room and board, while the figure for U of MA does not, but still, taking that out would only lower UVM’s cost to what? $28k per year? $25k if you really want to be generous?

    Look, all I’m saying is, if you can attend UVM for nearly the same price as public schools, and you can attend U of MA for 40% less than that, something is wrong with our public school cabal, er, system.

  4. The whole problem with them trying to do away with private school systems is the fact there are too many in the supervisory districts that have no personal ties with the towns they are representing and therefore represent just the state. They want to expand their budgets every year. And to do that, they need all the money flowing their way. Today it is religious schools tomorrow it will be all private schools and will finally be just state run and state controlled in what is taught. Parents and school choice will be forever lost! Is it worth it!

  5. that 25k is spent on public education that steadily gets worse is ridiculous. only the government wastes money at that rate. anything that has equity in the title is striving for a foolish goal. we should be trying to get spending closer to what Rice spends for a quality education. i always like to say Essex would be way ahead of the game to send every student to Rice

  6. Our legislature, together with VT NEA and the Dept. Of Education reminds me of the Law of Entropy. One of its simpler explanations is that “the chaos in the universe strives for a maximum.”

    I suggest that the same is true for the ignominious
    groups cited above.

  7. People that send their kids to private schools have done it for years without having state funds to help and will continue to send their kids without state funds. Allowing funds to go private schools allows lower income families to now have a choice. The state wants to remove that choice from lower income families. Private schools have always had better education scores because they use their funds for education not all the garbage in public schools. The student atmosphere is better because if there is a kid that always causes problems, they can be removed from the school and sent to public school. Finally, private schools are cheaper because they set budgets and stick to them, praising groups that come in under budget. Public schools like any government org spend every penny of their budget each year so they can ask for a larger budget the next year. My wife was a teacher for over 20 years in Vermont. The superintendent’s end of the year message was always spend whatever was left in your budget.

  8. The government/public education/”news” media collective will do all in their power to rid the world of anything that competes with their Leftist goals.
    Apparently, a clear majority of Vermonters agree with their goals because they continue to send far Left individuals to represent them in our legislature.

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