3-7-16 – The Solution that Eludes Peter Shumlin

by John McClaughry

Act 46, passed by the 2015 legislature, is radically changing Vermont’s public school organization. Five new unified school districts are in process, and two little towns -Elmore and Westford – have been swallowed up at the expense of their school choice programs.

Last month Gov. Shumlin, hitherto quotable on the subject of preserving local control of public schools, issued a statement on the subject. He said Act 46 “has sparked communities around Vermont to have conversations about the future of their kids’ education and how to make it better. Those conversations are necessary because Vermont has over 20,000 fewer students than we did ten years ago. Until now solutions to that problem have been elusive. I am proud that Vermont is moving forward with reforming our education system so it reflects the reality of our student count and meets the needs of our kids.”

Let’s take this apart. First, the Governor asks us to believe that the problem is that Vermont has lost twenty thousand public school students, so the solution is to create mega-school districts. To put it mildly, this is not obvious. More accurately, the consolidation solution that liberals have urged for fifty years finally won out, although it doesn’t credibly promise to cut costs or solve the student shortage.

Finally, the real solution is not at all elusive. Expanded competition and parental choice eludes the governor because they are anathema to the teachers union, administrators, and their captive legislators.

– John McClaughry is the founder and vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

mary lou wells March 7, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I think it is a good idea to cut back on the amount of superintendents offices but I think there should be some state guidance in this because some of the superintendents are are afraid of have no job or no office and they are trying to just pull more schools into their districts with no reasoning.. Like ours Twinfield and Cabot..we have under 500 students with both schools together..Cabot wants to join Danville, what is a good idea because of location and Danville’s go to school is St. Johnsbury Academy.. The Academy is a great school that offers so much more than these little public schools and afford to offer to the students… Washington Northeast District’s superintendent is trying to pull Danville into Twinfield and Cabot…and start a new district.. I don’t understand any of this, why would they want Twinfield, when Twinfield really doesn’t offer anything these two school already have and more of… right now now Twinfield has 5 students that just transferred over from U-32 and Marshfield and Plainfield have many students that go there , the co-captain of their football time was from Twinfield… the two schools have been working with each other for a long time.. our superintendent came from there, our principal came from there..our athletic person came from there and our coaches came from there…and they are a lot closer than Danville with a much better road for the students to travel on..I say that because when your in the same district you can use each other’s resources…It isn’t not only safer but smarter to join with U-32 district…When I get the Caledonian Record paper I read the write ups about Act #46 .. Danville talks about Cabot but never talks Twinfield, but when I read the Hardwick paper it is about the meetings of our district and it is all about how we are talking with Danville about joining with them or puling them into our district… Just what is going on here, I don’t understand it , I really think there is a story here because i feel like there is something more going on here, because I have friends in Danville that go to their meeting and she tells me they never say anything about joining with Twinfield..this is about the students and what is best for them and joining U-32 is the best I truly believe.. because we already work with them and they are closer… less time on the roads , safer… can you find an answer please ?


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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