3-4-14 – Rep. Sarah Buxton Trashes Vermont’s Tuitioning Towns

Posted by Rob Roper 

At the end of a morning’s testimony, Rep. Sarah Buxton (D-Tunbridge), who serves as Clerk of the House Education Committee, went off on a tear about Vermont ninety-plus tuitioning towns. Buxton, a virulent opponent of school choice, went so far as to accuse tuitioning towns of abandoning their responsibility and of not being engaged in fostering opportunities for their children. Ironic, since children in choice towns tend to have significantly more opportunities than those assigned to a school based on the arbitrary determinate of their address.

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This is what Buxton’s had to say before the committee secretary turned off the recording of the meeting:

“I am deeply troubled that almost 40 percent of our school districts have given up their responsibility of engaging their community and operating one or more grades in their communities. And those are the 91 towns that have some form of choice. If you live in one of those communities – it’s 40 percent of our school districts in the state of Vermont – where communities aren’t engaged, and you don’t have a budgeting process, you have for at least some of those grades the responsibility of that community and that board is simply a ministerial function. It isn’t engaging in what opportunities are there for those children in those communities. They have ceded it to a market process.

“I appreciate that that may remain, but despite the fact that it may remain, I don’t think we’re being honest with ourselves when we’re saying a child in Danville [a non-tuitioning town] and a child in Peacham [a tuitioning town] have the same level of community conversation around a child at the high school level, because at that point – and I know you’re looking quizzically at me and we can talk more about this, but it is –” Recording Cut Off by Committee Secretary.

A parent in that area whose child takes advantage of the tuitioning system noted the absurdity of Buxton’s choice of towns to compare. Danville, which Buxton was holding up as the superior system, has been rocked by scandal in recent years.

A 25-year old music teacher pled guilty to having a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old student in 2011. In 2013 the principal of Danville High School and the superintendent were accused of failing to report an allegation that a teacher abused a female student by grabbing her buttocks to the Department of Children and Families, which they are required to do by law. And in just the past few weeks, the new principal — a former Vermont principal of the year – was charged with stealing $1600 from the school safe. As WCAX reports:

“Police say surveillance video shows Principal Edwin Webbley taking the money.…This is not his first brush with the law. In 2012, he was charged with DUI after crashing his car into his home in Bristol. (WCAX)

Most likely Buxton was unaware of these issues when ascending her high horse, which calls to mind a story about former Texas senator Phil Gramm. Gramm, a strong school choice proponent was listening to testimony from someone who insisted that “experts” in the school bureaucracy were better qualified than parents to make decisions about what children need.

Gramm challenged, “You know my kids better than I do? Really? What are their names?” Someone might similarly challenge Sarah Buxton. Unfortunately, her attitude seems prevalent in that committee.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jay E Denault March 5, 2015 at 4:09 am

Sarah Buxton obviously lacks the insight to understand the benefits of the ability of parents to access a much larger pool of educational resources on behalf of their children. It would be a crime to simply leave a child in an unsuccessful setting when a much better match exists.

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jim bulmer March 6, 2015 at 10:32 pm

Hey Sarah, Get a life and face up to reality. Folks like you are what’s wrong with Vermont. I’m sick of your narrow and ignorant view of the real world. You are just one more example of the “don’t bather me with facts” crowd.

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