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The road not taken

History doesn't exactly repeat, but it does raise questions.

Example: the recent report from the American Legislative Exchange Council that Vermont ranks 49th (only New York was worse) in an evaluation of 10-year economic performance.

The report measured such things as growth in the economy, growth in personal income, even growth in population, none of the above being particularly compatible with the new Vermont ambition: anti-growth and pro-sustainability. Long before the latter noun became trendy, the State's thinkers had already envisioned a route different from the typical growth objectives, as measured by ALEC. As history would later show, it became a Golden Dome example of Robert Frost's road not taken.

With proper attribution to George Orwell and his invention, in his "1984" novel-of the governmental memory hole for the removal of inconvenient historical fact from public memory and knowledge-I can now ask this question: whatever happened to the idealistic notion of the late 1960s and early '70s that Vermont should seek its highly ranked place in history and economics by becoming the Education State?

Those were interesting years. Not just because of the influx of urban refugees from such "smart-growth" high-density enclaves such as NYC's Brooklyn or Boston's Dorchester, but to learn first-hand that green beans don't grow well in the higher elevations of the Northeast Kingdom.

The 1960s-70s was also a time when the formerly prosperous dairy industry was experiencing continuing milk-price deficits and the then pro-business private and public sectors had been compiling a fairly good record of attracting new non-farm high-tech industry in response.

The successful school district reorganization campaign of the previous decades had resulted in a host of new 750-pupil union high schools to supplement a mix of smaller public and semi-private institutions, and a new environmental movement was already beginning to argue that bringing in ever more IBMs and EverReadys wasn't clean enough for Vermont's future. Folks argued that Vermont should seek to be the Education State. It never happened. Why not?

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