Rebalancing education cost and value

How can Vermonters get equal or better educational outcomes for their children, with fewer taxpayer dollars?

That intriguing question has rarely if ever been squarely posed. A State Board of Education's policy commission is laboring to produce "transformation" policies, with no attention to what those policies might cost taxpayers.

A legislatively-created committee (a majority of which are teacher union-dependent) is currently trying to find an affordable way to finance the current system of education. It's not unreasonable to suspect that it will recommend offloading current education expenses (notably health insurance) onto some other taxpayer account, plus creating a new mega-organization in the name of (supposed) "greater efficiencies in delivery."

A completely different approach is that of the Commission on Rebalancing Education Cost and Value. This private sector commission, created by the Ethan Allen Institute, consists of 15 former superintendents, principals, school board and Senate education committee members, and PhDs. Its chair is Chris Robbins, who just completed a six year term on the State Board of Education and is also the current Chair of VSAC.

In his foreword to the report, Robbins says "The fundamental premise of this report is that a policy of creating an ever-enlarging 'system', directed from the top down, populated with thousands of teachers, administrators, and bureaucrats, controlling the annual expenditure of $1,450 million taxpayer dollars, jealously protective of the benefits enjoyed by the people employed in the 'system', and dismissive of the abilities and preferences of parents and children, is a policy headed off in a totally wrong direction."

"Such a policy will, ultimately, and despite the best intentions of many persons within that system, shortchange our students, defeat the preferences of many parents, and spend ever escalating amounts of taxpayer dollars for little or no added educational benefit."

"Instead of enlarging and fortifying the "system", we recommend deconstructing the current 'system" and rebuilding it based on the needs and desires of parents and students."

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