By Stephen Dale
Public education is foundational to our democracy. It is the way that we assure our children acquire the skills, information and understanding that will equip them to thrive in their personal and work lives and to contribute to life in a free society.
In Vermont, our schools are better than those in most states by most national measures. We can be proud of that fact. At the same time, we all know we can do much better—that we continue to have gaps in levels of achievement between students from different economic situations.
Vermont’s relative success can be attributed to excellent educators and strong communities. Vermonters care deeply about education. They support their schools. That concern and commitment is translating into a passion for continued change in our approach to education with greater focus on personalization and on the achievement of proficiency.
Vermont’s locally elected school boards guide and support this effort on behalf of their communities. School boards exist for two reasons—to assure every child receives a high quality education and to assure that taxpayers are receiving good value and a good return on their substantial investment. In short, school boards exist to assure schools are effective and efficient. And in the 21st century, school boards can and must be strong catalysts for change toward Vermont achieving the best public education system in the country.
Town Meeting Day is three months away. It comes quickly, however. The holidays distract many of us, and when school resumes in the New Year, petitions for municipal office are due in most towns within a few weeks. Now is a good time to consider serving your community and your children through school board service.
The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA) exists to provide a collective voice for Vermont’s school boards in the creation of public policy and to support school board members in successfully fulfilling their roles.
If you have decided to run for your school board or if you are considering it, we at VSBA invite you to join us for a free webinar on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. The purpose of the session is to help clarify the role and the obligations of board membership, to talk a bit about Vermont’s education system, and to answer questions. We will be encouraging you to run for school board, but also to be sure that you enter into the process with your eyes wide open. To join us for that session, register on the VSBA website at www.vtvsba.org.
Stephen Dale is the executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association.