5% of Vermont school children now home schooled

By Guy Page

Five percent of Vermont schoolchildren — 1 in 20 — are being home schooled, according to statistics received from the Vermont Agency of Education.

A total of 79,836 students are enrolled in Vermont public schools during the 2020 school year, according to the Vermont Agency of Education dashboard. That’s down from 83,710 in the 2019 school year.

Public school enrollment has been dropping steadily due to demographics since at least 2004, when enrollment was 93,347. This year’s large increase is mostly attributed to concerns about the pandemic: health risks, reduction of in-person learning, and strict in-school regulations.

An estimated 4,000 students who are not enrolled in public schools are being homeschooled, a 100% increase over last year, Agency of Education Secretary Dan French said at a press conference earlier this week. Home school advocates say enrollment in 2018 was 2,295, and in 2019 was about the same. Also, private school officials report strong enrollment.

The growing numbers of Vermont students in multi-household homeschooling groups got some good news earlier this week when a state official said the governor’s restrictions on multi-household gatherings do not apply to educational groups.

The public school system’s adaptation to the pandemic — hybrid learning where students spend some days at school, and others at home — leaves many students behind educationally, Sabina Brochu, a student member of the Vermont State Board of Education said at Gov. Scott’s press conference. “I know people who are struggling, who are failing with online learning. We need to go back into school … there’s a reason that school has been done in person five days a week. That’s how it works best.”

In a recent study shared at today’s press conference, three-quarters of Chittenden County students feel “protected” or “super protected” from Covid-19 at school. On the other hand, the solution isn’t just to ignore the pandemic, Brochu said: “I’m scared to go back to school after Thanksgiving break. I know there will be kids who travel on Thanksgiving – Christmas break.”  She said she hopes people observe safety measures over the break. French said that schools are among the safest places for students and staff.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

22 thoughts on “5% of Vermont school children now home schooled

  1. RE: Have you, for example, served on your local school board? — I don’t serving on a board has much to do with the failure of schools. Boards have nothing to do with what is taught in classrooms. that is decided by the state education department and individual teachers. We also have little control over the costs that are mandated by Mountstupid. the most important thing boards do today is check warrants to see if there is uncontrolled spending, e.g., hands in public pockets, and its almost undetectable. What they do consider and approve are capital expenses, that are usually necessary.

    Spending will not ever be brought under control, until local boards are put back in control of spending.

    • My wife and I both served on local school boards and had a significant impact on school governance.

      The reason it may appear that most boards don’t have that effect is that individual board members have, as often as not, a conflict of interest, a lack of knowledge on board authority, policies and procedures, or they simply bow to intimidation and default to the sentiments expressed by the VT School Board Association, or school principals and superintendents.

      I will give you one statutory example of a monumental school board authority as a case in point and direct your attention to § 822. c(1) (2) The judgment of the board shall be final in regard to the institution the students may attend at public cost.

      This is the text of the statute in its entirety.
      16 V.S.A. § 822. School district to maintain public high schools or pay tuition

      (a) Each school district shall maintain one or more approved high schools in which high school education is provided for its resident students unless:

      (1) the electorate authorizes the school board to close an existing high school and to provide for the high school education of its students by paying tuition to a public high school, an approved independent high school, or an independent school meeting education quality standards, to be selected by the parents or guardians of the student, within or outside the State; or

      (2) the school district is organized to provide only elementary education for its students.

      (b) For purposes of this section, a school district that is organized to provide kindergarten through grade 12 and maintains a program of education for only the first eight years of compulsory school attendance shall be obligated to pay tuition for its resident students for at least four additional years.

      (c)(1) A school district may both maintain a high school and furnish high school education by paying tuition:

      (A) to a public school as in the judgment of the school board may best serve the interests of the students; or

      (B) to an approved independent school or an independent school meeting education quality standards if the school board judges that a student has unique educational needs that cannot be served within the district or at a nearby public school.

      (2) The judgment of the board shall be final in regard to the institution the students may attend at public cost.

      • The significance of this statutory authority cannot be over emphasized. In fact, there is currently a case in Vermont Federal Court that will allow tuition vouchers to be used in parochial schools as well. It’s based on the recent SCOTUS ruling in the Espinoza v. Montana Dept. of Revenue case.

        “This week, Institute for Justice (IJ) filed suit in federal court arguing that “the state’s refusal to provide tuition to families choosing religious schools violates the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision holding that excluding religious educational options from school choice programs violates the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

      • If you want to change the course of Tyranny by the majority, do your homework and get involved.

        Parents: You should know that you have the authority to go to you local school board, today, at any time, and request a tuition voucher to send your children to the school you believe best meets their needs.

        My frustration lies in that I don’t know how many times I have to repeat this authority in order to get people to pay attention to it. As I said before, I can lead the horse to water. But I can’t make it drink.

  2. I admit that prior to this year, I have had little interaction or care with regards to our school board and our public schools. However, with the announcement of the hybrid plan over the summer, I started to attend the Zoom School Board meetings. How shocked I was that instead of trying to come up with a better plan to serve our school children (the Spring 2020 plan was a joke), the School Board was instead focused on raising the Black Lives Matter Organization’s flag at all of our schools in the district (Essex Westford School District) and rolling out a new racial equity plan for all kids, with Superintendent Beth Cobb quoting verses straight from the BLM organization to institute within our schools.

    Our Board does what they can to limit participation from the community, and is downright rude when community members question them as to their decisions. My involvement led me to one realization: I needed to get my two children out of public education and fast! I was lucky enough to act quickly and secure their spots at private school, but that isn’t an option for most families. Of course, the EWSD board says this is a form of privilege… I should ride the sinking ship into the ocean rather than try and save my kids.

    Absolutely spot on that while the quality of our public education in Vermont continues to decrease, the cost to the taxpayer continues to increase.

  3. Vermonters continue to vote left and none of this will ever change as a result. Schools have become the parents and the social workers for the communities; this comes at a very high cost. On top of this, the number of worthless employees per district is a VERY high. And by worthless, I mean never work with kids.

  4. Re: “A total of 79,836 students are enrolled in Vermont public schools during the 2020 school year, according to the Vermont Agency of Education dashboard. That’s down from 83,710 in the 2019 school year.”

    Keep in mind, Guy, that nearly 9000 of those students are a recent catagory of partime pre-kindergarten (Pre-K) and Early Essentail Education (EEE) students. Vermont’s traditional K-12 student enrollment is, today, about 72,000, a 30% decline from its peak of 103,000 just 20 years ago.

    But enrollment decline is only half the story. For example, while my local K-6 school district enrollments have declined at an even faster 45% rate over that time period, our local Education Tax has doubled. Furthermore, only 50% of our students meet grade level standards.

    Twice the cost, half the kids, and only half of that half receive a reasonable education outcome.

        • I didn’t mean to project an overly optimistic sense of humor as comic relief to this truly frightening circumstance. I hope everyone understands, there is a method to the madness. And it’s not our constitutionally guaranteed ‘inalienable rights’ but, yes, a conspiracy. And we have been warned over and again.

          “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” George Orwell 1984

          The public education monopoly is, today, the single greatest threat to our American Republic. Hopefully, Homeschoolers and School Choice advocates will lead the way out of this tyranny. It is essential that they lead the way.

          • Never took it as that. But did see a response to those who assert that some of what you’ve said in previous missives have been conspiracy theories.

          • I had an article written over here in NH by a woman that runs one of our Homeschooling coalitions, she said that the destruction of our tax funded education system was an act of war.

            Very strong words, but think about them.
            Our youth is literally the future of our country, in destroying their education, they’ve destroyed the country.
            And this has been no mistake you know.
            Look at what you write, only 50% of your students meet grade level standards.. as a nation, what do we do with that?
            Now how do you feel about what she said?

          • The important question, Ms. Stone, isn’t how I ‘feel’ about our education system. That should be clear enough. It’s what have I done about it…. or, perhaps more importantly, what have you done about it? Have you, for example, served on your local school board?

  5. If people are so scared then there is a big problem in the information they are getting.
    Less than 1% of the people that get this will die from it.
    Are you afraid to get cancer? that takes 600,000 people a year- in a terrible death.
    Can people please get their heads screwed on straight.. this is largely political and has little to do with a virus.

    • Yup. In Townshend there;s a 3:1 ratio kids to staff. All around the common cars are parked closely, the staff. Never use to be thus way. This past summer Newfane had a re-consideration vote for an increase in the school budget. The school systems keep re-considering each month until they wear the opposition down and finally get what they want. It’s the Vermont way.

      The school administration isn’t your “friendly” neighbor.

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