House Gives Preliminary Approval to School Choice

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(Host) The Vermont House last night gave its preliminary approval to school choice legislation. After more than three hours of debate, the House supported the plan by a vote of 69 to 64.

The bill would allow students to attend any public school in the state and the state block grant will follow the student. This is not the case with the current school choice law ¿ a proposal that also limits the number of schools that are available for a student to attend.

Ferrisburg Representative Connie Houston said the bill would be good for students and their parents:

(Houston) “I served on House Education for two years. Over and over, I used to hear from the educational establishment what would make schools stronger is empowerment. Get the parents involved in the schools. What better way to get a parent involved in the school than have them have a part of the decision of where their student goes what works best for their student. We all are aware that every school system does not do the same for each student. Who is the best one to make that decision?”

(Host) But Plainfield Representative Donny Osman said the plan would hurt smaller schools because school choice trends indicate that students leave smaller schools for larger ones:

(Osman) “Make no mistake, Mr. Speaker. If H716 becomes law it will hurt our small schools. Now Mr. Speaker, I’ve got to admit that in my own educational career nobody called me a math whiz, but one mathematical concept that I absolutely understand is subtraction. This bill will take money out of local community schools and that loss of revenue will be particularly severe for small schools.”

(Host) The measure is expected to come up for final approval in the House on Wednesday.

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