Vermont’s progressives have repeatedly undermined basic parental rights, which has led more parents to seek alternative education. Public school enrollment has declined in tandem with extremist ideological indoctrination, and now those extremists are doubling down in an effort to cease Vermont’s longstanding support of educational alternatives.
Sadly, it is low income families who are least able to escape these declining state schools. As usual, the progressives invoke the poor as their justification:
Representative Becca White, who is running for the open Windsor Senate seat, said “Whenever we have a drain against our public schools we are directly harming our most vulnerable children in our communities. So, in any instance that we could be supporting public schools over private academies, that’s where I stand. What concerns me on top of that is when we have private institutions that for low income students offer financial aid, and then are getting the cream on top, which is those vouchers.”
This is double folly — the failures of schools are causing flight, not a “drain,” of sensible families. Those of lowest means are least able to flee and should be subsidized based on need so as to be competitive with private-schooled children.
Vermont progressives have escalated school expenditures while eliminating or reducing parental rights. As the public understandably loses trust in its public schools, a vicious cycle is unfolding in which schoolchildren and their families participate in an oppositional battle with conniving government entities and their career technocrats. I wrote in a February, 2020 commentary:
Vermont’s 53 school superintendents receive an average $155,417 salary, or 2.59 times the state’s median income of $60,076. Vermont spends $8,237,101 annually on superintendents, despite declining student enrollment (a 25.5% decrease from 1997 to 2016). Its school system is now 49th in the nation in size but #2 in costs as a percentage of median income ($18,290/$60,076, with New York at #1).
Two years later, and the average Vermont school superintendent salary is $163,452 as of June 28, 2022, a 5% increase (before benefits), while the median Vermont income increased merely 3%. Yet homeschooling has increased exponentially during COVID, fueled by vaccine and mask mandates, gender pronoun indoctrination, pre-pubescent gender hormone therapy controversy, racializing school curricula with Critical Race Theory while lying to parents about it, violent racist hate poetry and sexually explicit graphic novels in school curricula, etc. What was true prior to this ideological onslaught is truer in 2022: “Total education costs have been consistently increasing as student enrollment has been consistently decreasing, which is not sustainable in the long run.”
Progressive zealots are driving students out of public schools, yet Vermont’s compulsory attendance statute mandates that all children be educated in public school, independent school, or home school. Parents who homeschool are still compelled to pay for a repulsive public school system that is one of the most expensive in the nation and which rates second highest in the nation for state funding — locals pay the tab! Yet Vermont’s public schools have declined in performance in core education areas, and standardized test scores dropped further during the pandemic.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2022. All rights reserved.