Free Press Covers North Bennington Village School’s Move from Public to Independent

Terri Hallenbeck wrote a terrific piece today about the new North Bennington Village school — the public school that “went independent” this fall. A couple of key points deserve highlights….

Though Sec. of Education Armando Vilaseca says in the article that he does not plan on recommending an outright ban on more schools following in North Bennington’s footsteps (mighty nice of him not to eradicate local control!), it seems clear from the summer study committee meetings that he is angling for the legislature to give the state board of education the power to deny an independent school recognition — something they do not have the power to do now — if another school actually tries to follow North Bennington’s footsteps. Given the makeup of the board today, that would be a de facto ban on public schools going independent. So, don’t let ’em fool you.

Also, Stephen Morse, chair of the State Board of Education, is quoted as saying that the people in North Bennington never really gave an explanation for why they were doing what they were doing. First, even if they didn’t, so what? If that is what the community wanted to do, and they don’t need Morse’ permission to do it, what business is it of his? Nevertheless, the leaders behind this movement did give long and highly detailed explanations for the motivations behind their actions, both directly to the State Board of Education and in other venues. They were mostly focused about maintaining local control and finding the ability to provide a better education outside of the traditional public school structure. Morse, it appears, either didn’t like these answers or didn’t want to hear them.

You can hear Matthew Patterson of the North Bennington Prudential Committee answer Morse’ question directly in this video clip Others from North Bennington gave equally eloquent explanations.

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