January 16, 2013
Open Letter to Governor Peter Shumlin
Dear Governor Shumlin:
I am writing today in response to your Second Inaugural Address given last week.
First, I applaud you for putting the focus of this address on our state’s education system and the outcomes that our children are achieving. As one who has proposed an education transformation in this state for years now that would ensure a student-centered system, I sincerely appreciated the focus.
Specifically, I am pleased with your proposal to expand to all students statewide both the dual enrollment program and the early college initiative. These two programs are critical if we are going to expand the opportunities for our students and significantly improve the outcomes achieved – in math and science, and in all of the other subject areas – in addition to making higher education a little more affordable for Vermont students and their families.
Like you, I believe that these programs are solid, effective programs, and should be available to all of our students, rather than a select few.
I am also very interested in hearing more about your proposal to create Vermont Innovation Zones, centered around the state’s technical centers. I have long argued that a regional system focused on the region’s needs and desires is a critical part of a substantive, effective transformation.
In the end, however, even while I agree with much of your address and look forward to working with you and your staff on the implementation of some of the initiatives, I have serious concerns about how you plan to put them into action, given the current funding system.
Like last year, you once again cavalierly dismissed concerns about education funding, even as it is crystal clear that these significant (and important) expansions of the pre-K programs, dual enrollment, and the early college initiative will require one of the following: 1) very large increases in education property taxes; or 2) significant changes to the funding system itself.
Given this fact, I ask you now that as we look boldly at the education delivery system – which is long overdue – that you also be open to looking boldly at modifying our education funding system. After all, none of your initiatives will be possible without changes to that system. This is too important an issue at too important a time to approach it haphazardly. As you said in your address, “This future is within our reach if we have the courage and creativity to seize it.” I couldn’t agree more, and look forward to working with you on comprehensive education reform.
Heidi E. Scheuermann
State Representative, Stowe
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