Daily Chronicle: Changes to special ed, universal pre-K, State Board of Education on House school committee menu

By Guy Page

House Education Committee Chair Kate Webb (D-Shelburne) a month ago emailed the Vermont Daily Chronicle a preliminary bullet list of 2020 committee priorities.

Chair Webb’s list appears below. Details that follow are by author.

“Follow up on Act 173 and weighting study.” Act 173 is a special education funding and delivery overhaul approved in 2018. Implementation has taken longer than expected. “Weighting” refers to how the State “weighs” pupils for tax calculation purposes. A state study released this fall addresses these issues. The committee will review.

Guy Page

“Universal Pre-K.” Act 166 requires universal pre-kindergarten education. Legislation before the House would enhance standards for pre-K teachers and staff. Supporters say it would improve student outcomes. Opponents say it would cost taxpayers more money and drive some small, home-run preschools out of business.

“Role of the State Board of Education.” Critics of forced school mergers ordered by this appointed board were pleased when a legislative advisory board this fall recommended the board be eliminated. The Vermont Department of Education says it can do everything the Board does. Likely outcome: the Legislature allows the board to continue, but on a shorter leash, especially re: mergers.

“Update on status of lead testing in schools and child care facilities.” Act 66, passed this year, requires all schools to test for lead in drinking water. The Education Committee wants to know how well it’s working.

“Oversight as well as collaborative work with the Agency of Education.” Every state agency is overseen by a legislative committee. Education Committee members are:

  • Chair Kathryn Webb. Former special ed case manager and speech pathologist, UVM clinical professor.
  • Vice-Chair Lawrence Cupoli (R-Rutland). US Air Force veteran, car salesman, member Vermont Child Poverty Council.
  • Ranking Member Peter Conlon (D-Cornwall). Former Peace Corps volunteer and editor of Addison Independent. Member of new Addison unified school board, former president of Friends of Cornwall School.
  •  Sarah “Sarita” Austin (D-Colchester). Retired Chittenden County teacher, school counselor, school board member.
  • Lynn Batchelor (R-Derby Line). Former office manager for VNA, was employed by VT Dept. of Corrections for 10 years.
  • Rep. Caleb Elder (D-Starksboro). Bristol native, member Mt. Abraham unified school district board. Awesome fiddle player.
  • Dylan Giambatista (D-Essex Junction). Former chief of staff for House Speaker Shap Smith. Member Vermont State College Board of Trustees.
  • Clerk Kathleen James (D-Manchester). Skiing publication editor, historian. Has served on Manchester school boards.
  • Philip Jay Hooper (D-Randolph) – Jump-started the Millenial Caucus of 19 young Vermont legislators.
  • Christopher Mattos (R-Milton) – lifelong Milton resident. Real estate agent.
  • Casey Toof (R-St. Albans) – Received degree in education from Castleton University. Youth, high school sports coach. Operates media consulting firm.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports at the Vermont Daily Chronicle.

Image courtesy of TNR
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4 thoughts on “Daily Chronicle: Changes to special ed, universal pre-K, State Board of Education on House school committee menu

  1. Out of 11 members, 6 are from the NW corner of VT. We know the mindset of those in the Legislature from Chittenden County. R or D, surprising the number of R’s (4) on the committee. Can’t figure their positions, seem to be Rino’s.

    Interesting there’s a Shap Smith. Was (gone) a Shap on the Fox channel. Certainly not the same. The Fox Shap was creepy.

  2. Carpetbaggers are not going to give up until they have gotten their share of the taxpayers money and encouraged the lawmakers to spend the rest. The part of the populace that stays in Vermont will be ruled buy a socialist regime since they will all be on social welfare programs. The extremely rich excluded.
    Perhaps this sounds far-fetched and radical but, if Vermont’s economy crashes and people exodus the state in large droves the only ones who could stay behind would be the extremely rich and those on social welfare programs. At this point in time it would be a moot point to even have education. The lawmakers would not want a populist smart enough to criticize them or vote them out. With Vermont’s position amongst the other states of the nation, in regards to education ranking, maybe that is where they are going. Generally speaking, it seems that many lawmakers consider the voting public as an accursed people, not smart enough to know they are being mislead. So, why would lawmakers want to improve education. They have been incentivised to do just the opposite. Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, and Bill Gates didn’t go to pre-K and look at what they achieved. What our children need is a good education system, not what they have currently. They need school supplies to enhance their learning. They don’t need dumbing down so students with learning disabilities can feel like achievers. Learning challenged students need their own separate classrooms or schools so they can honestly celebrate their achievements. My grandson throughout grade school has and still is bored. He says, “it’s because the teacher keeps going over the same things all the time.” Not to brag, but he is smart. He’s two grade levels ahead in math and reading. My point is, school needs to go back to basic subjects with selected electives if your grades are up. Creating huge, merged school systems are money pits, and it is too easy for funds to be misappropriated. Set a standard rate of funds per individual student to allocate to schools. There’s a hundred things that can be done to better the schools. One thing that has been a fly in the ointment since standardized testing, is cheating. The State Board Of Education has not dealt with it. Specifically, I mean cheating by faculties.

  3. Okay. The education monopoly, its special interest groups and committees, and the legislators enabled by them, are not only alive and well, but unfettered as they impose their indoctrination of Vermont’s children. And, as usual, not a word here about what we should/can do about it.

    Short of a totally unexpected reversal by the Vermont electorate, it seems the only choices we have are to leave the State or assume the role of victim and take advantage of all the free stuff these folks suggest we deserve. In other words, if you can’t lick ’em, join ’em.

  4. It’s been estabished by numerous specialists in the field of preK education that after the first year or two in the following grades, the preK children are no further ahead of those who have not had that ” adantage`?”. Unfortunately the pro Kers could care less. More hard earned tax payers’ money down the drain. So what else is new???

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