Legislative Weekly 1/20/19
Sunday January 20th,
Update from Montpelier:
This past week was technically the 2nd week of the legislative session, but it was our first full week of committee meetings and that made it feel as though things were really under way! I have been assigned to the House Education Committee which was one of my very top choices. As a member of the Mount Abraham Unified School Board, I had hoped to get a seat on the Education Committee and to bring my perspective as a current member of a newly merged district to the group. Of course, many legislators have extensive school board experience, but I hope that my recent and ongoing experience will be relevant and useful.
Since this past week has been mostly spent in our committee room, here are some of the highlights so far:
We had our first presentation from the bill’s sponsors, and discussion of H.3 - An act relating to ethnic and social equity studies standards for public schools. This bill was worked on at the end of the 2017-2018 session, so it is the first on our docket for the this session. H.3 would form a statewide working group to make recommendations to the State Board of Education, who will then adopt new ethnic and social equity studies standards for all Vermont public schools. This bill speaks to the fact that many aspects of our country’s history are underemphasized or simply not taught. As we try to make our education system welcoming, affirming and truly informative for all students, a broader and more inclusive view of social studies and history is needed. I support this bill.
A recent, and major, piece of VT Education legislation is Act. 173, which was passed in 2018. Its title is, An act relating to enhancing the effectiveness, availability, and equity of services provided to students who require ad
ditional support. Act 173 made significant changes to the way schools receive special education funding, as well as the ways in which those funds can be utilized to support students even when they are not on individual education programs (IEPs). Our committee has been receiving briefs on this new Act, and we will be getting updates on its implementation which will take place over several years.
As many who follow Vermont education news will know, there is continued controversy statewide relating to the implementation of Act 46. Last week there were 5 bills introduced (H.39-H.43) that would have an effect on Act 46. These bills have some overlap, but call for delay or cessation of forced mergers as well as further study of the efficacy of Act 46. I don’t want to overly conflate these 5 bills, since some are more similar than others but since they all were introduced the same day and it’s not clear which if any will move forward I think that interested parties should probably ready through all 5 of them.
Here is our Education Committee’s agenda for the upcoming week. Committee meeting are always open to the public. If you would like to attend and need more information on the whens and wheres, please don’t hesitate to email me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for your interest! Caleb Elder, State Representative - Addison 4