Act 46 designed to enhance education monopoly, limit school choice — a debate for Vermont

Editor’s note: This is Part 4 in our Debate for Vermont Series.

By Jay Eshelman

The education monopoly is continuing its incessant push to consolidate and control funding. That is, after all, what the monopoly is all about — growing its business at the expense of any competition. Why, then, should anyone be surprised that costs increase while enrollments and academic performance decline? Dysfunction is the monopoly’s growth industry.

The Agency of Education in Barre, Vermont

Meanwhile, as the move toward school choice threatens the monopoly’s control, “separation of church and state” is often cited by the education monopoly’s special interest groups as justification for a purely secular, one-size-fits-all education system.

In that regard, I’m impressed with an Oct. 25 column by Star Parker, a conservative African American, on school choice and the so-called Blaine Amendment — a failed federal attempt in the late 1800s to discriminate against Catholics.

As Ms. Parker points out, 28 States have language similar to the Blaine Amendment in their respective constitutions. Ironically, Article 3, the so-called “compelled support clause” of Vermont’s constitution, has often been cited to prohibit parental use of a publicly funded voucher to attend a parochial school, despite the 2002 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Zelman v. Simmons-Harris that found parental use of publicly funded vouchers for religious schools does not violate the First Amendment.

Vermont and Maine have operated some the nation’s oldest and most radical school choice programs since the late 1860s, when free public schooling was extended into the high school years.

On March 20, 2003, in Genier v. McNulty, a federal district court action representing residents of two tuitioning towns, Rutland Town and Middletown Springs, the Institute for Justice asserted that “Vermont’s prohibitions of school choice have violated their federal constitutional rights to free speech, free exercise of religion, and equal protection of the laws as well as the Establishment Clause.”

Across Vermont and Maine, about half of the school districts use “tuitioning” for their high school students. Such districts, instead of operating a public school, pay tuition to private, independent, or neighboring public schools on behalf of parents who choose which schools they want their child to attend.

I’ve not been able to find out where the Institute for Justice lawsuit stands, and recall that it may have been dropped on a technicality. However, Vermont businessman H. Brooke Paige recently initiated a similar lawsuit that should be closely followed.

Nevertheless, Act 46 consolidation is designed to enhance the education monopoly’s control of all Vermont education spending on behalf of the special interest groups that have a stranglehold on the state’s legislature, administration and political appointees.

Jay Eshelman is a former school board director and business owner living in Vermont.

Images courtesy of Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union and File photo
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3 thoughts on “Act 46 designed to enhance education monopoly, limit school choice — a debate for Vermont

  1. Ever since I returned to Vermont in 1995 after my husband died, (I went to Goddard College when I was younger as a teenager), I kept explaining to Vermonters: “Look, I lived in Los Angeles during my married years, and the public school system in Los Angeles has been taken over by what the teachers there call a “mafia”. Now, will Vermonters believe me now, that what you call “monopoly’s growth industry” really functions just like a mafia?
    The same thing can be applied to the horrid idea of “presumed consent” organ “donation” whereby a certain Vermont Representative introduced a “presumed consent” organ “donation” law, and clearly his intent is to provide no “choice” to all low income Vermonters who most likely will not know about the “presumed consent” law, if it is passed, and they will not take action by lack of due legal notice or they will not take action because they can’t afford a lawyer and court filing fees and notary public fees (poor people are counting diaper and formula money, dollar for dollar) to file whatever legal documents must be filed so that the State of Vermont will not own their body when they die, or are declared brain dead, or declared to have massive brain damage, which in some states now triggers removing of organs (when there is consent) – what I’m getting at is, this particular Vermont State Legislator moved here from Pittsburgh, PA and he is a medical doctor and he is salivating and drooling over the idea of “presumed consent” organ donation which would mean that if you didn’t file the proper legal documents that the State of Vermont will own your body when you die or are close to death, and they will harvest your organs and instead of selling them, they will “donate” them, but there will be huge, enormous fees involved with storing the organs and moving them to the place of the organ recipient, etc. There is a huge amount of money involved, they just don’t “sell” the organ, that’s not legal, they get around that with the fees for transporting and storing, etc. So, this particular Vermont State Legislator wants to enact a law that only gives you “choice” if you happen to know the law exists and can afford to file the legal documents to protect your body. This guy is a medical doctor and he envisions huge, vast profits for what would become his possible part in the scheme: doing surgery, making Vermont a go-to-destination for organ transplant surgery, because he would be counting on a majority of the people in Vermont not filing the right documents to protect their body, and he would be salivating over the financial opportunities of doing organ transplant surgery.
    That would be a total 100% worse-than-a-Mafia scenario: The State of Vermont will own your body if H.106 passes into law. This medical doctor, Vermont State Representative George W. Till, will seriously and willfully and intentionally deprive you of your Freedom of Religion and your Freedom of Choice with “presumed consent” because if you die or are seriously injured suddenly in a car accident before you can file legal documents to protect your body, George W. Till is salivating and drooling just waiting to pass this law so he can harvest bodies of human beings in Vermont and start an organ transplant business.
    Now, think about this, and compare this to “school choice”. I was talking with H. Brooke Paige just the other day about both of these subjects. The point is, that both of these subjects go together because they are both aimed at taking away freedom of choice and freedom of religion. These subjects are the anatagonist attacks against Vermonters by the “mafia”, the “new mafia”.
    Bill Status H.106 – Vermont Legislature
    legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2018/H.106‎CachedJan 24, 2017 … Sponsor(s). Rep. George W. Till. Location: House Committee on Human Services
    ; Last Recorded Action: House 1/24/2017

    • Hey, if it looks like a duck…..

      Surely, the folks in State government, the public school monopoly and the special interest groups that support them, believe they doing no harm, that they are the experts because they’ve received various certifications and degrees in their respective fields. But there is never any real innovation because those within the public school dogma are the ones certifying the expertise. It’s a mutual admiration society.

      Most other professions don’t function this way.

      Yes, there’s money in it for them too. Self interest motivates all of us. But because they aren’t familiar with the competitive nature of innovative businesses, innovation is perceived as a threat to their personal well-being. So they perpetuate the narrative that ‘children aren’t widgets’, that ‘schools can’t be run like businesses’ and that everythig they do is ‘for the children’….as if those of us promoting School Choice and competitive educational innovation aren’t for the children. It’s their false dichotomy.

      “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm– but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
      — T. S. Eliot The Cocktail Party, (London: Faber and Faber, 1974), p. 111.

      The question with which I’m struggling is how to reach these folks so they see the alternate points of view that create innovation.

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