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Vermont, the Education State

If there are joys associated with having the editor nameplate on your desk at your publishing office, I'd guess that getting to write the op-ed column is right up there with such other perks as directing your staff, balancing your budget, and pleasing your board of directors.

Unlike reporters-who are supposed to report objectively but frequently suppress inconvenient facts which don't match the desired correct-think purpose (see last week's column on this subject)-editors are fully free, under Fourth Estate code of conduct rules, to opine as they see fit.

Even so, an editor can enter a credibility danger zone if the facts cited don't match facts ignored to support an opinion. Then the editor's opinion is unsupported and becomes subject to the laws of intellectual gravity just as Newton's apple fell to earth as proof of the laws of physical gravity.

Case in point: in a recent editorial in one of Vermont's weeklies, the editor argues that yes, Vermont spends more, per-pupil, than most other states in public education, but (advertising slogan) "we're worth it." (Identifications are redacted as a professional courtesy.)

"Products that have a high value cost money," according to the editor, referring to the K-12 product in Vermont (and citing the 2009 per-pupil cost of $15, 175).

"Pity the states at the bottom of the heap--Utah ($6,356), Idaho (($7,092), Arizona ($7,813), Oklahoma ($7,885), Tennessee ($7,897) and Mississippi ($8,075)...," he continued, arguing that these cheap states "...will likely have to increase per-pupil spending significantly if they are to offer their youth the best possible education."

Vermont we often hear is the Education State. Indeed, public-education advocates in Vermont frequently cite the state as no. 1 or no. 2 nationwide as measured by federal (NAEP) test scores.

What they know but never cite are the unpleasant demographic/achievement score truths underlying those scores-

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