Lindberg: For educating Vermonters, it’s time to return to what works

By Stu Lindberg

According to the chief education bureaucrat in Montpelier, Gov. Phil Scott, in 1997 there were 104,000 students in Vermont’s pre-K-12 schools. Today, Vermont has 75,000 students. That number is predicted to fall to 69,000 in the next five years, and fall again to 65,000 by 2030.

1997 was the year Act 60, Vermont’s statewide education property tax, was passed. This was the beginning of the end of local control of schools in Vermont and the start of rapid decline in student population. Since then, education costs have gone through the roof and the education bureaucracy has become an expensive, power hungry, gluttonous monster.

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Education has changed a lot since the 1930s, but some would say not for the better.

Education property taxes are out of control, yet student performance continues to decline. The removal of local control by our elected representatives, senators and past governors has coincided with the centralization of power in Montpelier. Mandates from both the state and federal government are significantly driving up costs.

Clearly, this approach to educating the youth of Vermont is failing. The ruling elite of all parties in Vermont have doubled down on this approach with the coercive and tyrannical Act 46. The political promises of reduced costs, lower taxes, equality of education and increased opportunities were false. The exact opposite result is happening. The next phase of Act 46 will be Gov. Scott’s school closing commission.

In my little town of Cavendish, the taxpayers this year are sending an extra $365,000 to the state of Vermont education fund for “redistribution.” Cavendish, Ludlow and many other small Vermont towns have been dealing with this arrangement for two decades. Despite the siphoning of funds away from our local schools and towns, the ruling class in Montpelier is telling us our small schools are too expensive and must be closed.

This for me is unacceptable. It is time to return to what works. It was not that long ago that the public liberty was powerful oxygen in the blood of every Vermonter. Generations of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers and sisters built rural schools for the children in their towns. These are the real stakeholders. It is local citizens, local taxpayers and local voters that have the absolute right to determine the sustainability of our rural schools.

The bureaucrats and politicians claim they have greater wisdom in educating our children than those of us with the most invested. They are wrong. They have proven repeatedly that it is never a good idea to have school governance too far away from direct education of students. This is an election year; it is also a good idea to research the candidates you are voting for.

Stu Lindberg writes occasional commentary for True North Reports. He lives in Cavendish, Vermont.

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2 thoughts on “Lindberg: For educating Vermonters, it’s time to return to what works

  1. It’s got to be the new math! 🙂

    Funny how the largest school budget ever in the states existence with a modest amount of students and we don’t have enough money Huh….the schools are a fixed cost, so that cost should roughly be the same to the tax payer. Number of teachers should not have changed drastically so that shouldn’t have changed much either.

    Perhaps heavy administration costs? Cadillac health insurance? Bloated retirement budgets?

    We are clearly run by lobbyists on this, that is why we can’t come to an easy and it’s an easy solution to our education funding problems. It’s not money for God’s sake.

    The Governor’s letter was interesting and misleading. We really have mediocre schools at 2x the expense of every other state, and it’s not the fault of the teachers. It’s amazing how people like to spin things.

  2. Education, let’s take a Look at Vermont Schools, most properties are in disarray the
    students are falling below the national averages on test scores and enrollments keep
    dropping. and spending keeps increasing.

    Along with the increased school spending every year the only other thing in an “upward ”
    trend is the Administration and Teachers salaries and benefit plans.

    I’m not sure how they dare face the public. Teaching used to be in a noble profession, no
    longer Greed Rules Now.

    The bureaucrats and politicians claim they have greater wisdom in educating our children
    than those of us with the most invested. If that wasn’t so sad, that would be funny !!

    All they are good at is throwing taxpayer money at problems they make. Act 60 has morphed
    into a bottomless pit of $$ (they think) and Now Act 46 will soon be just another dark hole
    for local schools, the one or two remaining.

    We all know Politicians think bigger is better.

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