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The Valley Reporter
P.O. Box 119
Waitsfield, VT 05673

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Fundamentally wrong

Not long ago a woman who lives in The Valley and teaches at an elementary school in central Vermont posted a request on a social media site, seeking computers for her classroom.

It seems the kids in her class could not get any access to the school's too few computers so she took matters into her own hands so that her students could have computers to use.

Kudos to her for taking matters into her own hands (and those with good, working, not-too-old computers can contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to have donation offers forwarded to the teacher) and how lucky for her students that she cares enough about them to do so.

But there is really something fundamentally wrong with how we fund education in Vermont if –16 years after the passage of Vermont's education funding reform, Act 60, and 10 years after Act 68, the law that "fixed" Act 60 – a school is so lacking in computers that a teacher has to go find her own.

Act 60/68 came upon the heels of Brigham versus the state of Vermont, a Supreme Court case wherein the formula by which the state funded education was challenged. The court ruled that schoolchildren in Vermont are entitled to substantially equal educational opportunities.

That decision led to Act 60, which created a statewide property tax that penalized the states so-called "gold towns" for their property wealth. Act 68 was an attempt to fix some of Act 60's most egregious flaws and now Vermont has an income-based statewide education funding/property tax system where people receive a break on their property taxes based on their income – up to a certain income level when they pay full freight.

But something is not working right if an elementary school less than an hour from us does not have enough computers for all students to have access. Whether or not one agrees that we're all just too damn plugged in all day every day (and we are) students being schooled without the same digital and technological tools as their peers are at a significant and unfair disadvantage.

It is incredibly exciting that students at our own middle school joined middle-schoolers throughout New England in receiving iPads and no one would begrudge them their new digital learning tools. As a state, we must do a better job making sure that appropriate digital learning tools are available to all of the state's students – especially those whose teachers might not be as enterprising as the woman who lives here.


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