The Vermont Education Blob's battle to keep any more school districts from doing what North Bennington's just did has hit a roadblock.
Two years ago North Bennington's village school district saw that the Blob in Montpelier was aggressively working to force consolidation of school districts, and that their beloved village school would likely be the one closed in their area.
So the school board and principal, backed by the voters, chose to close the public school, organize a new independent school, and give parents the choice to have their children attend there or, if they so chose, somewhere else. The Blob's allies forced a reconsideration vote, which the Blob lost. The new North Bennington independent school will open next fall in the leased former public school building.
"Whoa!" cried the Blob. "We can't let any more of this happen, or our public schools will lose students." Rep. Johanna Donovan (D-Burlington), chair of the House Education Committee, quickly introduced a bill to prohibit closing a public school "with the intention, for the purpose, or with the result of having the school building or buildings reopen as an independent school serving essentially the same population of students."
The text of the prohibition bill was put into an omnibus education bill. But a rebellion broke out. Last Thursday, with the bill on the House floor, Rep. Donovan moved to remove her own language. In its place was substituted a six-month study committee. That was a victory for the forces favoring parental choice, including the Vermont Independent School Association.
The 12-member study committee, however, is chaired by Blob kingpin the Secretary of Education with six of his Blob allies. Five members will come from the independent school sector. Since the Blob has never been known to concede any ground to parents or non-public schools, we look forward to the committee's report, and especially the minority views.
This is another chapter in the long battle of freedom, choice, and local citizen control against centralized government control in the name of pubic education's special interests. As always, we wish freedom and choice the best.