Designation for Use of Public Funds for Tuition (H.820) - Jan 19, 2024

The House Education Committee reviewed H.820 on Thursday with Legislative Counsel.

Representative Brady, the bill sponsor, told a story about how “public education is the most important institution we have to create a more just and equal society to close opportunity gaps.” She articulated tension between our needs, goals and budget restrictions. Her goals with the bill were to:

  1. Create criteria an approved independent school must comply with to receive public tuition.
  2. Require public school districts that do not maintain a public elementary or high school to designate up to five public or approved independent schools eligible to receive public tuition to serve as the public schools of the district.

NOTE: This would end Vermont’s historic 150-year old school choice system and limit the choices that students and their families could choose from.

She hopes that by changing to a “designated schools” model, that they would be better able to pool resources and “maximize the impact of every public dollar, by minimizing perhaps duplication of programs and personnel and services in places, by supporting a more coherent and quality implementation of the mandated programs.”

NOTE: This concept is somewhat similar to a bill that was opposed by the Senate last year.

Representative Austin questioned “aren’t we taking out opportunity” and felt “the bill is focused more on the type of school the state feels will work best instead of what is best for the child.”

Representative Brady repeated a trope that what parents do with their own funds is not part of this discussion, only the uses for public funds.

NOTE: Essentially what Brady is saying is that only wealthy people should have school choice.

Representative Brownell added that he sees the dollars as taxpayers dollars and we should be concerned with treating each child as a choice for the right schools.

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