3-22-16 – House Minority Leader Calls Out Ed Committee Chair for Failure To Address School Choice Concerns

by Rob Roper

Rep. Don Turner (R-Milton), who serves as the Minority Leader in the Vermont House of Representatives, walked into the House Education Committee on Friday afternoon and put a point blank question to the chair, “Is this committee’s intent to do away with School Choice and this [Act 46] has all been a smoke and mirrors game. If so, we want to know exactly what we are dealing with and we want Vermonters to know exactly what they are dealing with.”

Rep. David Sharpe (D-Bristol) didn’t offer an answer. Pressed by Turner if Vermonters would see a school choice fix to Act 46 this year, Sharpe said, “This is a process. I don’t get to decide.” Well then, who does? Is Speaker Shap Smith the one who is sabotaging school choice in Vermont through Act 46?

Turner pointed out in his testimony that when communities raised concerns about the spending caps in Act 46 the House and senate acted immediately and took just weeks to “fix” the cost containment/property tax reduction aspects of the law. However, despite tri-partisan exasperation from legislators and constituents about the damaging aspects of Act 46 on Vermont’s school choice towns and the public schools that depend on tuitioning students, no action is being taken to correct this problem.

Democratic leadership has said that they want Act 46 to “play out” (just not the cost containment part that was promised in 2015) and see what happens. Well, what’s happening is that Elmore, Westford, Tinmouth and Fairfield have lost school choice and several more towns are at risk of losing theirs as well. Given the actions and inactions of the House Education Committee and its chairman, it appears this was the goal of Act 46 all along.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Stan Brinkman March 23, 2016 at 4:22 am

It is time for a pledge petition for voters to vow to vote against any member who voted for act 46 or will not vote to repeal the act this November and there after. Please comment if you would support such a petition.


Mark onka March 26, 2016 at 2:57 am

I support school choice. I will campaign on it in my run for Windsor County Senate.


Carol Frenier March 23, 2016 at 8:49 pm

I would support such a petition, and I would circulate it.


JAY DENAULT March 26, 2016 at 4:06 am

The Legislators who voted for the Act 46 “slow moving train wreck” should ALL BE THROWN OUT OF OFFICE NOW, recall them all!!!! Just look what’s happening in Dummerston. That community is self destructing with neighbors at each other’s throat! The authors of Act 46 know that each Supervisory Union has at least one school which is smaller than the rest. They don’t care if there is 50 students or 250 students they are all targeted for closure. The Superintendents made a deal to help implement consolidating schools in exchange for saving 46 Superintendent jobs back in 2012 with Senator Mullin’s S.194 Supervisory Union reduction proposal. Act 46 is a pathetic joke with those who have the most to gain telling people flat out lies just to get what they want. It’s the “Hurray for me and to hell with the rest of you” approach……….Count me in on that petition, lest do it NOW!


Jim Bulmer March 26, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Stan Brinkman is headed in the right direction. However, I wouldn’t limit my targets for dismissal to the school choise opposers, I’d target ALL the Dems and get Vermont back on track to fiscal and common sense sanity.


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The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

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