Student Voice and Civil Debate

February 23, 2018

TO: Superintendents, Principals, Independent School Headmasters, All Educators

FROM: Secretary Rebecca Holcombe, Ed.D.

SUBJECT: Student Voice and Civil Debate

DATE: February 23, 2018

Over the last few days, I have been proud to see so many students in the Vermont State House, presenting in legislative committees and giving voice to their priorities. They and their priorities are diverse: from net neutrality, to gun safety, to substance abuse prevention, to environmental preservation. What these students have in common is a passionate interest in an issue, a clear vision of a need for action, and the confidence and poise to come in and make their case to legislators and the Governor. I am proud of both their civility and their direct and incisive questions. They make me optimistic about our future.

In a related set of events, several groups have called for demonstrations of solidarity with the students of Parkland, including walkouts from schools.

First and foremost, I support students’ first amendment right to free speech, and I encourage students to engage in civil debate about critical issues that affect their wellbeing. Vermont has a strong tradition of student voice, and we celebrate our students for their efforts to engage in and positively shape the future of our state. And at a time like this, we need to hear our students’ voices more than ever.

Read the complete Student Voice and Civil Debate memo.