What is Act 46? For those who are unaware Act 46 is a process that puts in place standards and goals that would set all schools and school boards on the same type of model that has been put in place by statewide regulations. This model would include but is not yet limited to placing policies on what should be taught at school, creating a lower teacher to student ratio, "Vermont has the lowest ratio in the nation, with an average student-to-teacher ratio of 9.4 to 1, according to a 2013 report from the National Education Association" (VT Digger). and creating an “equal” educational opportunity for students across the board.
First and most importantly is this policy change comes at the cost of the parents, the voters, and the taxpayers of the state. The extra cost comes at the hiring of more teachers for a lower student to teacher ratio. Depending on the number that they put in place schools may have to hire on several more educational personnel in order to meet these qualifications. And for each teacher that means more money out of the pocket of the people in these communities.
The proposal on the table in most counties and districts is to accept Act 46 and be regulated by what is put in place from a higher power. This proposal also adds the temptation of a tax break for those districts who do choose to conform to Act 46 within the next 3 years. Schools and districts have been told this is a voluntary process, meaning if the schools want to opt out the certainly can. The issue with something that is “voluntary”, you have to ask yourself for how long? With more and more district voting to adopt this Act it may lead to the state cutting off funding for schools down the line who choose not to conform. With no funding then they are left with the decision to charge tuition, shut down, or also be a part of this detrimental policy.
Every student learns differently just like every town and city works differently. As odd as that sounds put it into a larger perspective; students in Los Angeles California aren’t going to learn the same material (I.E. Vocational) as the students in Springfield Vermont. Of course the core classes may be similar where ever you go but the detail of the content is in connection to those opportunities in your area. School prepares you for job opportunities and higher education beyond the K-12 world. It is safe to say that employment and educational opportunities differ from location to location. That being said schools and districts should be able to put their own spin on the content that they are teaching to further relate to what is actually happening right outside their window.
Legislators that support this motion talk about how schools that don’t join this will be left behind. That’s funny, for a voluntary Act why light the threat that schools may be left behind? Those comments suggest a threat, that if all districts don’t conform now that they may end up high and dry. This is at a point where we can turn it around while the details are still being put into place, districts are still voting on their stance as to whether they will join or not. Let’s take notice to how this will affect you, your kids, and what they will now take from school going forward. It’s not too late to say nay to Act 46.