August 18, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Flying flag to recognize racial bias

The first step in rooting out systemic racism is to acknowledge that it exists.

I am humbled by and proud of the work done by Montpelier High School’s student-led Racial Justice Alliance for beginning this conversation among students, teachers, staff, parents and the community. The students who are leading this effort are changing perspectives among their peers, reiterating that students of color face a far different world than their white counterparts.

Systemic racism and implicit bias have plagued our nation for centuries, making a mockery of the American assertion that all people are created equal. Yes, we are all human, but, for hundreds of years, Americans of color have suffered greatly because of the ravages of racism that are long-standing and systemic.

In flying the Black Lives Matter flag, Montpelier High School is officially saying that bias exists. I am encouraged by this step, and am glad to see that school officials are actively addressing with teachers, students and staff the experiences of students of color who uniquely bear the brunt of our nation’s systemic racism.

I want to congratulate the hard work by the students of the Racial Justice Alliance who put it exactly right when they said, “We will raise the flag with love in our hearts and voices.”

Martha Allen

President

Vermont NEA

Problems call for more government support

Gov. Phil Scott laid out an ambitious agenda for state government in his budget address last week. He outlined many problems facing Vermonters today, and for the most part his assessment was accurate. The state does need to address drug addiction, retirement security, environmental protection, mental illness, affordable housing, energy efficiency, job creation, equal educational opportunities and many other issues.

But it is hard to see how Gov. Scott can achieve all this with a spending formula that ties the growth in the state budget to Vermonters’ wages. And while we applaud his proposal to try to recruit young families to settle here, we have to wonder how many young parents are eager to move to a state where the governor says we’re spending too much on education and wants to reduce staffing in schools.

Along with the problems Gov. Scott cited, Vermont — like the rest of the nation — also has a problem with income inequality. Wage growth has been stubbornly slow, while incomes for the wealthy have grown much faster. Linking state spending to wage growth can only exacerbate the problem.

When wages aren’t keeping pace with basic living expenses, Vermonters need more support from their government, not less.

Paul Cillo

Public Assets Institute

Montpelier

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