School Choice Day at State House An Inspiring Success

By Rob Roper

The Ethan Allen Institute was proud to be part of a coalition that brought school choice advocates from around Vermont to the State House on January 25th to celebrate National School Choice Week. Vermont’s 148-year-old history of tuitioning is the oldest school choice program in the nation, and it has spawned scores of independent schools that provide a diverse array of learning environments for kids to explore.

Students from the Riverside School, Long Trail School, Sharon Academy, Lyndon Institute, Vermont Day School, Thaddeus Stephens, Imagine Schoolhouse, Kurn Hattin, and the Belcate School participated in the day’s events. They provided music to open the House floor, some testified before the education committees, one spoke eloquently at a press conference in the Cedar Creek Room, and one introduced the day’s featured speaker, Kevin Chavous.


Chavous, an author, education reform advocate, and elected as a Democrat to the Washington DC Council, explained that his experience with public education demonstrated that the system no longer serves children and families, but rather the other way around. And, it’s not working. “The value and essence of school choice is simple,” said Chavous. “It puts the power in the hands of the parents and the children to pick and choose the option that best serves their needs.”

He went on to note that in Washington DC the voucher program that has been in place there has helped improve the local public schools as well. “Because of the choice offerings in the nation’s capital we now show DC public schools showing advances and gains…. One of the main reasons DC public schools were able to thrive was because of the competition afforded by the choice offerings.”

Other highlights from the day included a “Mannequin Challenge” competition in which students created videos about what made their school great. The Belcate School won the $5000 top prize, which is to be used to provide scholarship support for incoming students. Sharon Academy came in second ($3000), and the other schools that participated each received $500.

Representative Vicki Strong (R-Albany) introduced a resolution on the House floor (HCR 23) recognizing January 25 as “School Choice Day”. It passed by voice vote with all yeas and no nays (although not all Representatives signed onto it).

Thanks to all who came out, braved the icy roads and the challenges of finding a parking space in Montpelier. School Choice in Vermont is on the chopping block. If these kids can make a stand, so can we!

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.







{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jim Bulmer January 28, 2017 at 1:48 pm

One step in the right direction. Well done.


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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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