This letter to the editor is by Stu Lindberg, of Cavendish.
For curious and responsible Vermont citizens the Vermont Education Dashboard is a website tool for finding out how Vermont kids are doing in our government schools. It is not the easiest to use, and for individual schools does not show test data past 2019. The site does show aggregate data for all Vermont schools in 2021. My local government-run high school is Green Mountain Union High School in Chester, Vermont. This is what I learned in the dashboard about student performance at GMUHS.
In 2019, 54 percent of 11th grade students at GMUHS were below proficient in science. Fully 64 percent of eighth grade students were below proficient in math. Fully 23 percent of ninth-graders were below proficient in language arts. Language arts is at least one bright spot.
Statewide in 2021, 58 percent of 11th grade students in Vermont were below proficient in math; 70 percent of students in the ninth grade were below proficient in science. 45 percent of ninth-graders were below proficient in language arts.
The poor results of these tests have real world implications for all of us, but especially the children we are supposed to be educating. It is easy to point blame individually or collectively at teachers, administrators, politicians, school board members and parents, but ultimately the blame falls on every citizen who chooses to stay uninformed and apathetic.
As a former parent and a former school board member at both CTES and GMUHS, I attempted to raise concerns with many of the shareholders in our schools about these and a number of other issues. It was a clumsy effort on my part. I was outnumbered but I could and should have done better.
One thing I learned was that if throwing more money at education was a solution, every student would be capable, successful and happy. Every year the school budgets increase with little improvement in the ability of the students to function in the world.
The board members and leadership at the TRSU and GMUHS are looking to spend an incredible amount of tax dollars on renovations and upgrades in our school system. This spending, while overdue and necessary if these buildings are to stay functioning, needs to be weighed against what is happening or not happening with the students that occupy them.
As with most citizen concerns these days, I expect my own to fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. The last resort in getting the people in charge to listen and to see is to shut off the money supply. I will be voting no on my school budgets. It is past time to pause, reflect and change course away from what is going wrong at Vermont’s government run schools.