My friend attorney Deborah Bucknam of Walden has long been a strong advocate for parental choice in education. Last week she attended a meeting of the Mendon and Chittenden school district. She reports that “ 99% of those attending wanted school choice. That included admitted leftists, public school teachers, retired public school teachers, and some school administrators. At least half said they moved to Mendon and Chittenden because they had school choice.”
“They understood the issues: that school choice is more equitable; that each child is different and has different educational needs– that without school choice, those needs will not be met. [They understood] that independent schools are inclusive and don’t discriminate. Many had their own stories about their kids that needed special help and independent schools met those needs. Many said school choice raises property values. One person said that because the courts have ruled that you cannot discriminate against religious schools, that the school board association has now changed the wording to “equitable”. Virtually all (except, I believe one school board member or school administrator) agreed that paying tuition does not adversely impact the budget.”
Deb concluded that “I was heartened by the intelligent discussion and the insight of the speakers, who were almost all parents living locally. School Choice is a winner, at least in Chittenden/Mendon!”
That’s a heartening report to all of us who have long urged parental choice in education.
Meanwhile, even while unprecedented Federal aid is being injected into the public education system, the Vermont Agency of Education threatens to withhold funding from the Ripton, VT school district because it chose to withdraw from its supervisory union in order to have more choices.
It’s little wonder school boards are recognizing the tyranny of the State education monopoly and it’s a refreshing change that teachers are figuring out the benefits realized in an education free market too. Thank goodness the school boards are the final arbiters.
“16 V.S.A. § 822. School district to maintain public high schools or pay tuition, (2) The judgment of the board shall be final in regard to the institution the students may attend at public cost.”
Soon, I hope, the court decisions on a couple of cases currently in Vermont’s Federal Courts, allowing elementary school boards (grades PK-6) the same options as provided in 16 V.S.A. § 822, will be forthcoming.