Opinion: Let’s Move Past the Education Politics of the Past
By Daniel M. French, Ed.D., Secretary of Education
In the final weeks of the election cycle, supporters of the Vermont State College System and early education proponents made their pitch for additional funding in a challenging fiscal environment. Their ideas are constructive, their tone civil and they’re making a good faith effort to add to the policy conversation. My predecessor also weighed in to rehash last year’s debates.
As a former superintendent, I have spent years explaining Vermont’s education finance system. I began my career in educational leadership with the advent of Act 60. Nearly 20 years later, in my last year as a superintendent, Act 46 became law. Throughout the years, I have navigated Montpelier’s frequent tinkering with the system, and how we pay for it.
I believe we are now at a point where we need more comprehensive action.
We have an education spending problem (highest in the country in per-pupil expenditures and special education expenditures), and according to almost every Vermonter I have met, property taxes are way too high. At the same time, we have no trouble inventing new education policy initiatives which, when taken together, have caused a certain amount of “initiative fatigue” across the system – our outcomes are good considering but are not proportional to how much we spend, and there is persistent inequality between our schools.