3-20-14 – Burlington is a bad model for education reform

by Stuart Lindberg

H. 544, the school governance restructuring bill working it‘s way through the Vermont House education committee, is a disaster in the making. Lawmakers hold out Burlington’s school governance as a model for the rest of Vermont to follow. So what is it that is so special about Burlington’s school governance that is so exemplary?

Is it Burlington’s efficient use of tax payer dollars? Probably not. Burlington’s school budget has gone from $37 million  in 2008 to $63 million in 2013.

Johanna Donovan (D-Burlington) is the chair of the House Education committee. She represents Burlington in the Vermont legislature, and is leading the charge for the restructuring, which would get rid of local school boards, in order to improve educational outcomes for students. So what are the “outcomes” of Rep. Donovan’s Burlington school district? 64% of Burlington’s 11 graders are below proficient in the NECAP Math testing. 72% are below proficient in science, 54% are below proficient in writing and 38% are below proficient in reading. In old school terminology “below proficient” means “failing.“

So what does Burlington’s school governance model have to offer? Big budgets, big spending and poor results. This is the model the rest of Vermont should follow? The speaker of the Vermont Legislature, Shap Smith (D-Morristown) and Speaker of the Vermont house of representatives says that Vermont’s century old school governance model is outdated and needs to be updated so “we don’t leave Vermont’s children behind.” Sounds good Mr. Speaker but if Burlington is the model Vermont’s supermajority wants us to follow than you can be assured most of our children will be left behind.

As for Rep. Donovan, in her own words she says she is the legislature’s strongest opponent of school choice, yet she attended a private school (Rice). Why is it Ms. Donovan’s business, or any politician’s, to be involved with the outcome of my child’s education? The “outcome” of my child’s education belongs to me, my children and their teachers.

–  Stuart Lindberg sits on the Cavendish Town School Board

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

jim bulmer March 21, 2014 at 7:17 pm

Here we go again!!! For whatever reason, come November election time, so called concerned Vermonters keep sending well meaning incompetents to Montpelier. Unfortunately, I’ll never see any change in my lifetime. Guess it’s nearing the time to move on.

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Sandy Gregg March 21, 2014 at 7:32 pm

If everything Mr. Lindberg states is true my first reaction is that Rep. Donovan has a conflict of interest. Let’s face it, we all think that what we do in our own backyard is better than what anyone else could possibly do. In addition, just because Burlington is Vermont’s largest city does make it right in all it does. Just look at the way the city handled their Burlington Telecom issue. My understanding is that the Supervisory Unions (SU) were supposed to be in charge of common purchases, contracts, transportation and special education needs for all the schools within their district by a certain date. I know one situation where not only did 2 SU’s combine into one but the one resulting new SU (yes, all staff had to reapply for positions) took buying for all the schools seriously and long ago met their obligation which has saved taxpayers in those towns significant tax dollars. Why are some SU’s dragging their feet? Simple start to savings is to consolidate SU’s from 60 to 16. This is a simple strategy why is it not being considered?

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