Editor’s note: This commentary is by Deb Billado, chairwoman of the Vermont GOP.
Republican priorities are starting to see important wins. While Republicans have struggled to get traction on school choice measures in Montpelier, we are starting to see success for our principles working themselves out on the local level.
Earlier this week Elizabeth Cady ran for school board in the town of Essex. Not only was she able to defeat an incumbent school board member who also ran (as a Democrat) for state rep a few years ago, she did so running on a platform of supporting school choice. Cady, like many parents this year, felt like public schools have not been serving the best interests of our students. So she did what many parents have done and opted-out. She decided that the only way to change the attitudes of the public schools was the challenge them at the ballot box. She did that – and she won.
The pressures COVID has put on public schools has demonstrated the weaknesses in our current infrastructure and exposed the degree that some public schools have gone the extra mile to accommodate students – while others have sat on their hands knowing parents are stuck.
One of the remarkable things about Cady’s school board win, was that not only did she get a seat on the board of a public school when her own kids go to private school – but she actually campaigned on a school choice platform – and she won! On the “School Choice” tab of her website she argues that the competition that school choice creates can actually have the effect of improving our public schools as well.
Essex is not alone in their willingness to support school choice. Across the country this year there have been a record number of legislatures finally taking action and filing or even passing bills that provide school choice. At the end of March, Texas advanced a bill advocating school choice. In liberal Minnesota both the House and Senate approved measures that increase school choice options. And in a bold and determined move Republicans in the Kentucky Legislature overrode their Democratic Governor’s veto to give students of every color and income a choice on where they go to school. Republicans across the country are fighting and winning on the issue of school choice. There has never been a better time than the present to fight and win on this issue.
Vermont is one of only 3 states left in the country that offers ZERO state-wide options for school choice. And while the obstructionist, Democrat-led super majority in Montpelier may be blocking the path at the state level for this year, school board candidates like Liz Cady are showing that choice advocates who want better functioning schools can rise up in their own towns and fight for choice at the local level. And it’s a fight they can win!
I wish that everyone reading this who wants to see MORE educational opportunities would consider running for school board next March – and possibly running for State Rep next November. Together we can get Vermont kids caught up to the rest of the country and give them the choices they deserve. If you want to learn more about running for office, contact us here at the VTGOP so we can keep up the momentum and keep winning for our students.