Governor Phil Scott’s administration is engaged in a self-described thought experiment titled, “Designing Our Future: A Blueprint for Vermont’s Education System”. The document, released by Seven Days Vermont on January 11th, is reported by administration officials to be a compilation of creative ideas and innovative thinking. Instead the memo reads like a public education horror show.
Here are some of the so-called creative ideas:
- Consolidate all Vermont schools into a single district
- Dismantle the Vermont Board of Education
- Transfer all public school property to the state
- Remove local representation from planning and design committees
- Adhere to a statewide teacher contract
In other words, it is an education power grab right out of the Koch Brothers/Betsy de Vos playbook. Changing the education system as we know it was a central focus of Koch’s three-day donor seminar during the 2018 campaign aimed at disrupting the status quo and breaking teachers unions. And they delivered: The Koch funded super Pac, A Stronger Vermont, spent $826,000 dollars on Scott’s re-election campaign, more money that Scott raised himself. (https://www.sevendaysvt.com/OffMessage/archives/2018/11/20/republican-super-pac-spent-826k-on-phil-scotts-reelection-bid).
Scott’s new plan is just the latest in a series of efforts to undermine local public education. In 2017, Scott failed to make the prudent financial decision to invest a one-time surplus to fund the state’s pension obligations to teachers and other public employees. In 2018, Scott asked local communities to keep the growth in education spending below 2.5%. When the total increase enacted by local communities across the state came in at 1.5%, well below the target, Scott insisted that the increases were excessive. And now, in 2019, Scott launches an education plan devised by individuals who very evidently hold the enduring commitment of Vermonters to public education in contempt.
Vermont’s education system is one of our state’s strongest assets and the character of our schools is vital to our communities. As we start the 2019 legislative session, Vermonters beware. Phil Scott is not acting in our interests. It is up to us to pay attention, speak up and protect the Vermont we love.