Roper: Who’s responsible for Vermont’s failing schools?

Parents who notice and complain, says columnist.

by Rob Roper

Bill Schubart, a regular columnist for VT Digger among his many hats, never ceases to amaze me with his writing. He always provides an intriguing, insightful menu of facts and discoveries followed by a totally incongruous, twistedly partisan conclusion that makes absolutely no sense. His latest effort, There’s a lot more to education than education, doesn’t disappoint in this regard.

Schubart’s general observation throughout the piece is that Vermont’s public education system is crap and has been trending that way for over a decade. It’s a point hard to argue against, especially since the latest NEAP (a.k.a. the National Report Card) scores just came in showing dramatic declines in math and reading throughout the system. Schubart even cites the stats: “a 4-point decline in reading and 9-point decline in mathematics. It also compared these with the 2012-13 school year a decade earlier — well before Covid began in 2020. There’s a decade-long decline of 7 points in reading and 14 in math.”

Schubart then provides some fascinating personal experiences that corroborate the numbers. He and his wife over the past three years hosted two foreign exchange students from Moldavia and Serbia. At the ends of these students’ overall positive experiences in the US, Schubart reports:

“[T]here was one common disappointment. That was our school system, which they both found very disappointing when compared with the education they had had in their home countries.

Other than their American history course — and athletics — they felt they had learned little or nothing. They had already studied much of the math and science….

“Beyond the disappointment in pedagogy and course work, their biggest complaint was about the classroom culture, which they described as chaotic and hostile to learning. Their descriptions were consistent.

“Students who wanted to learn sat in a horseshoe around the teacher’s desk, students in the next rows back might be texting or watching movies on their cellphones with earbuds, while the kids in the back rows carried on open conversations, entirely ignoring the teacher.”

Double checking his sources, Schubart questioned the school’s principal, who confirmed that this was indeed the dynamic at play in the classrooms of what is supposed to be one of the state’s best public high schools.

Schubart then laments the good old days in the late 1960’s when he was a young teacher at Mount Abraham. Back then the staff understood they were to maintain a culture of respect and learning – and did — and the students for the most part understood their role fell in line.

All good, well thought out stuff up to this point, but here’s where Schubart’s characteristically left-leaning refusal to see reality, even when it is so glaringly obvious given the clear and overwhelming evidence, takes over and drives the man’s brain off its intellectual rails.  What does he blame this sorry state of affairs on?

“But if the child sits at home and listens to their parents run down the school for whatever reason — demanding removal of certain books from the school library, lobbying to eliminate courses they don’t personally approve of, complaining about property taxes they pay to fund public education, for example — their animus against their child’s school and classroom will likely take root in the child and the child will have implicit permission to come to school laden with a variety of disrespects.”

Seriously, LMAO! SMH! WTAF? as the kids on their phones not paying attention to teacher might type. I’m sure the same kids who are boisterously ignoring Mrs. Wormwood’s algebra lesson are sitting respectfully at the dinner table hanging on their parents’ every word regarding Vermont’s incomprehensibly complex property tax system.

Everyone should read this!

Schubart can’t bring himself to recognize or admit that since he first graced a classroom at the dawn of the age of Aquarius, leftist thinkers and culture warriors have come to dominate our public education system, certainly here in Vermont. It is they who are overwhelmingly responsible for the classroom culture and the curriculum that exists today. Does Schubart really not understand that the respect and discipline that existed during his teaching days was just the product of a racist patriarchy? Expecting all kids to sit quietly and pay attention is just an expression of his own white privilege?

At one point Schubart laments the fact that his European exchange students spoke three or four languages fluently, having taken classes since the first grade. We, he sadly notes, don’t teach foreign languages in elementary or middle school anymore. Yeah! We’ve replaced such courses with politically charged “green” propaganda and curricula influenced by critical race theory (CRT).

Students aren’t paying attention to the teacher? Maybe that has something to do with the fact that the leftist politicians and activists in and outside the classroom have spent all of these kids’ lives telling them that the adults from previous generations – like the one standing in front of the blackboard with the wooden pointer — are all systematically racist, sexist, and homophobic guardians of an oppressive society that has, among its many sins, laid waste to the planet these youngsters will inherit. Why would anyone pay attention to someone with that resume? If you want real authority on a subject, look to a fifteen-year-old (now nineteen-year-old) high school dropout whose major achievement is having collected a few million followers on Instagram.

Schubart notes that we are witnessing a rise in mental health issues with students of all ages. Again, maybe that has something to do with the fact that schools are relentlessly scaring the daylights out of children by bombarding them with a messages of hopelessness over unsolvable climate change, ubiquitous gun violence, incurable racism, and, oh by the way, you’re probably a boy trapped in a girl’s body or vice versa, let’s explore that! Just don’t tell mom and dad because the people you live with and are dependent upon can’t be trusted. But, hey, be well!

No, none of this occurs to Schubart, or if it does he sees his job as deflecting attention away from the real roots of the problems and onto the politically correct scapegoats – conservative parents.

If kids are emotionally damaged and failing to learn, it must be because mom and dad are critically pondering in the presence of their children why their property tax bills have doubled over the past two decades with declining results to show for it. Or it’s because those same bad parents are questioning the school’s decisions to replace Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird with Gender Queer and The 1619 Project in the syllabus.

According to Bill Schubart – and unfortunately a lot of people think like him — the very real problems that exist and are getting worse in our public school system (and, from there impacting our youth as a whole) are not the fault of the left-wing, so-called “experts” running the system. It’s the fault of the ungrateful masses for calling attention to the experts’ failed results, questioning the experts’ demonstrably ineffective methods, and demanding something better for their children. What nerve!

Of course, others might review the same evidence as Mr. Schubart and come to an entirely different conclusion. Let’s certainly hope so.

Categories: Commentary

19 replies »

  1. Bill Schubart lasted two years in public school teaching. Just saying……

  2. We still live in a democracy and our local school boards are freely elected. We get the schools we deserve.

    That said, what has changed? Fifty years ago Vermont was home to thousands of cutting edge technology, world class, manufacturing jobs. Students with a solid fluency in math and LIGITIMATE, ACCEDITED, journeyman training could be assured of a great job. A job that would easily support a nice home and new car. Beyond that, any kid not in college had his own place by 20 years old. Only a loser, ignored by desirable gals lived at home. Slackers were set straight by parent’s that were the product of the greatest generation. Parents that endured the great depression and lined up to enlist as to save the world. Most of us had an uncle or neighbor that silently bore the wounds.

    Fast forward. Progressives have done everything possible to destroy industry and eliminate journeyman training in schools. Essentially, all that remains are mindless, labor and service industry jobs. Community development agencies boast of grants to tofu retailers, defunct breweries, gay coffee shops, and jam canners. Kids come to terms with that future quickly. Locally 30% drop out. Those I interview consistently remark, “no one can give a compelling reason to know trig and advanced algebra.” Shame, as neurology science has proven math study in young people wires your mind to think rationally.

    Compounded by helicopter parents that demand no academic competency, chauffeur their lazy brats to school, enabling an infantile relationship well into their twenties. We are raising a generations of profound idiots. The same idiots that vote for their own ilk! Is anyone catching on?

    • And our progressive polititians are giving these minor, children the ability to vote in out elections. This is happening because children have received a political education from the public school system, based on alignment with progressive political literacy, not literacy relative to reading.

  3. There is no mention of the international non-elected entities that are driving every woke, progressive socialist agenda in education. These include the United Nations, UNESCO, the World Bank, WEF and OECD, with the aid of the NEAF using money of NEA teacher union dues. Parents are intentionally kept in the dark about the amount of influence these entities have on public education in America. Our children are receiving a political education based on Paulo Freire’s regenerative themes model. Children are being programmed into change activists in service to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include equity, Social Justice, carbon reduction and global warming and so on. Diversity Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is the social component of the new financial scoring system called Environmental, Social and Governence. Your school and state equity personnel are part of the “Governence” component of ESG. These terms and this agenda can be traced back to United Nations documents from 2006.

  4. Who’s responsible? Any fool or pervert who voted for a democrat is responsible for the disgusting mess this state is in. And Phil Scott is responsible for allowing voter fraud to flourish in Vermont.

    • phil scott is not responsible for establishing laws that allow easy voter ballot manipulation. (Hard to establish fraud if it’s not illegal) ms. balint and krowinski along with then SOS condos wrote and passed the legislation in 2020 under the guise of “Covid Emergency” to permanently alter the voting process here in Vermont.
      You’re beef is with the legislature of 2020 and the current group that has no desire to turn away from mail in ballots and ballot harvesting.
      Vermont’s elections have permanently changed to support the outcome desired- that the current incumbent parties stay in power.

      • Frank Bammo, perhaps…but he is responsible for bowing to the progressive left on several issues, the most egregious being his absolute reversal on his pledge to enact “NO NEW GUN CONTROL REGULATIONS” that alone destined him to never again get my vote. Even if that meant that we ended up with a trans, radical feminist or whatever. He’s never gotten my vote since his first term and he never will. I need more for an executive than someone who has milque toast conservative financial leanings. As an aside, I hold him directly responsible for the death of a dear neighbor and my mother during his BS deference to the “experts, the CDC & WHO during the plandemic.

  5. Schubart’s rant on Vermont’s education system ( controlled by politicians of his ilk) reads like an alinsky playbook, with rule 13 primary-
    “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
    The ability to divert from the real problem and point at a perceived problem is alinsky-
    and the modern Vermont Democrat/progressive.

  6. Bill Schubart is the man who I listened to give the keynote speech at a statewide education property tax conference at the South Burlington High School in 2011. His big solution for saving tax dollars and improving education was to close all the local schools and relocate all government services into district compact urban centers. Meaning forced relocation of all the rural peasants into 15 minute cities.

  7. Yugo Performance at Cadillac Prices !

    We all know who is to blame for the dismal and declining student performance and rest scores – it’s the folks being paid to provide a high-quality education to Vermont’s Public School students.

    Since the State and Local Governments have proven themselves incapable of educating our children, isn’t it time to to place parents in control of their children’s education through School Choice.

    Afterall, public schools exist to provide a quality educational experience to our youth NOT provide cushy jibs for the members of the VTNEA.

  8. As someone who serves in the public school system i can tell you the root of the problem is all the way at the top and the roots run very, very deep. Its the Department of Education. Its the Agency of Education. Its the National Education Association. Its the American Federation of Teachers. Its the National School Board Association. Its the Vermont School Board Association. And its all intertwined with college/university programs so the chance of getting any staff member other then a custodian or bus driver that’s not a complete moonbat is almost nonexistent. Vermont’s new public education goal is equity. Well, all the kids are behind or failing. That’s equitable and to the public education bureaucrats a success. Is it just me or does everything the government runs get worse and eventually completely fail?

  9. Infiltration, not invasion. Words spoken through evil realms manifest to deceive, subvert, and destroy.

    “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” Barack Obama, October 30, 2008
    “We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.” Michelle Obama, May 14, 2008

    Those two don’t get all the credit. The plan was hatched decades earlier under George H.W. Bush:
    “We have before us the opportunity to forge for ourselves and for future generations a new world order, a world where the rule of law, not the law of the jungle, governs the conduct of nations. When we are successful, and we will be, we have a real chance at this new world order, an order in which a credible United Nations can use its peacekeeping role to fulfill the promise and vision of the U.N.’s founders.” January 17, 1991

    From there, the modern-day versions of Ahab and Jezebel, Bill and Hillary Clinton, set the table for all demonic and evil spirits to sit, feast, and plot out the rest. They preyed upon children, in all parts of the world, via the Clinton Foundation. In the United States, they placed equally sick and demonic people to brainwash and abuse children, formerly known as our education system.

  10. I usually avoid Mr Schubart’s self satisfied scratchings. He compares the top 1% of pupils in a foreign school to the worst performing of the class they landed in. Then he generalizes the worst behavior of the least motivated to the whole of the US system.

    Mr Schubart should know that there have always been a range of attitudes and behaviors around education. The 20% of pupils who are bright, engaged and ambitious will do well if given access to the material. They need little support and they likely flourished during lockdown because they suffered fewer distractions. The 40% who are only in school because the law says they have to be there will entertain themselves at the back of the class and bail out of school as fast as possible regardless of teaching methods. That happens everywhere.

    Lockdowns, mask mandates and remote “learning” have been disastrous for the 40% of kids who want to do well but are not as engaged or talented as the top crew. They need teacher guidance and the policies that Mr Schubart no doubt supported deprived them of that.

  11. Excellent article Rob. Lets face it though, the failures of the current educational system belongs to all of us and especially all voters. We have allowed the bar
    of excellence to drop and are reaping the disaster its producing. When parents
    and taxpayers wake up and smell the coffee lets hope its not too late. The biggest move that could help all involved would be school choice. Let the parent make the choice of where their child goes to school and that move in itself will produce the best learning environments available. Currently too many parents have no choice and are trying to make the best of what is available. Let the money follow the child. Until then the VEA will have a stranglehold on all of us. The children are the future and we should be providing them with the best education and tools we can.

  12. The school districts, their more concerned about being all inclusive and pandering to the mentally ill instead of teaching.

    • Funny how the more they intervene the worse it gets. In recent years the number of students in pulic school has actually gone down while the rates of paras and counslers has spiked. As a result we have substantially increased rates of anxiety and depression and dramatically reduced scores in academics. Its almost as if mentally and emotionally compromised youth is the goal, they are probably much easier to manipulate and indoctrinate. The children are the victims in all this and the perps are ideologically leftists.

  13. We (parents and school professionals) can easily sit down and create a curriculum and syllabus for K through 12 students but we have to start holding teachers and superintendents accountable as the professionals they claim to be. Home schoolers are put through these requirements but I’m afraid public schools are not.

  14. I attend many school board meetings. The Board is encouraging the deployment of the ideas of critical race theory and gender identification without telling the parents what they are doing or why. I personally find it offensive. One of their objectives is to foster the development of students into “Equity minded global citizens”. They could not explain what that means.and are unwilling to explain it to parents at a town hall meeting. The only way to stop this is to organize parents to fight for a return to emphasizing academic achievement.