Back when America was Great, the three legs of the milk stool of Vermont democracy were town government, the fire department and the schools, And we all came together in common cause at town meeting to decide how best to utilize them. Cut off one of those legs and that milk stool will no longer stand, and that is exactly what will happen if the saboteurs behind the Act 46 forced school mergers now being imposed get their way.
And now, after having taken out the compliant and the willing, they are about to try to decimate the unwilling, citing the Orwellian mantra of "Equity, Accountability & Transparency" which, in this case, actually means "None of The Above."
Schools cost a lot of money, and there's a reason for that. Because, in the 21st century, the schools have become the primary social services safety net for the ages 3-through-21 population -- those needs are often times severe and, oh, by the way, we also have to teach school.
These sobering facts not withstanding, the towns and communities have continued to support those schools and their mission of educating all comers regardless of need, and have willingly continued to do that in spite of last year's double-cross on the part of Gov. Phil Scott, when for the purpose of making a political grandstand play long after school budgets were set, he ratcheted 2 cents off the statewide property tax and simply left it to the towns to somehow come up with the difference.
This is the sort of backroom dealing which is taking place right now. You don't have to dig down very far underneath the facade of some of the outside agitators with noble-sounding names like "A Stronger Vermont," to discover the malignant hand of the Koch Brothers, who are hell bent just now on uprooting the bedrock Vermont value of town meeting direct democracy.
When communities no longer run their schools, that all-important third leg of Vermont democracy will be gone, and those who place private gain over public good will have had their way.
David M. Clark
The writer serves on the Bellows Falls Union High School Board and the River Valley Tech Center Board, and is chairman of the Windham-Northeast Supervisory Union Board. He is an organizer of the Alliance of Vermont School Board Members.