Letters 11 – 1 – 2011

Education in Vermont is in need of reform 

I would like to add some information to John McClaughry’s article concerning the test standards used in our schools. Back in 1970 I took my son to visit my high school teacher that I respected tremendously. Her name was Dorothy Collins, Assistant Principal of Peoples Academy who went on to be Dean of Students at Middlebury College. During our conversation she made a statement that has always stick with me. She told us that colleges were finding less students were continuing on with their education because they could not meet the standards set by the state.

At that time to enter college you had to have a B average so in order to get the students they needed they lowered the standards to a C average. My thoughts stopped right there. I thought why instead of lowering the standards did they not do some research and find out why students were not reaching those standards of old? Why compromise and make it easier for them? That is why we are where we are today. Our young people can only go as far as their teacher takes them, so I would have to say the teachers and the curricula being used were not challenging the students. I also blame the school boards, superintendents, and the State Education Dept. for accepting this new theory. The children that are excelling today are those being taught at home or in private schools. Public education has become the enemy of home.

Years ago I visited two superintendents offices and I was amazed at the difference in the two. The first one was like any business office you would visit ~ a window, a desk, chair and a few odds and ends around. The other one was a window, desk, chair and three walls filled with books from the floor to the ceiling, all books that were being used in the schools he was superintendent over. I had my young daughter with me and he went to one of the shelves, picked out a book and gave it to my daughter to read while we talked. This told me he not only had the shelves filled with books but he knew what grade levels they were for.

Going in further back I will tell you a little of my own experiences. When I left the school I was attending as a junior I was failing in several of my subjects but when I made the transition to Vermont coming to Morrisville I had this Dorothy Collins for my homeroom and history teacher the rest of my junior year and senior year. When I graduated I graduated with honors. I say all of this to show you teachers do count and what they instill in their students makes a tremendous difference. She saw things in me that I didn’t even know were there and challenged me to do my best. I am not saying all teachers are just there for the job but I don’t think the education given to our young children is the quality it use to be. I have a copy of some test questions given to students graduating from the 8th grade in New Jersey in 1885 and I would doubt very strongly that any senior could answer them today.

I will close by using part of statement made in the following article of your newsletter only with a little different twist. The title said “WAKE UP AMERICA!” and I would like to say ‘WAKE UP VERMONT!” It is time we take a stand and demand more for our children and our grandchildren. Passing children from grade to grade with “no child left behind” is not the answer. I thank you John, for bring to the attention of the readers the difference in the testings and why our educators are saying they are testing so well when you can see they are not measuring up to all you know they can do or be.

– Marion Clegg



Events & Notes

Fri. November 4th: Addison County Fundraising Dinner at the Middlebury VFW, starting at 5:30 pm, dinner served at 6:30 pm. Guest speaker, State Senator Garrett P. Mason of Maine on how his state party won twenty seats in 2010, capturing both chambers of the legislature and the governorship. Master of Ceremonies, Governor Jim Douglas. For information or tickets contact Connie Houston at 385-1106, Jeanette VanWyck at 877-2169, or Meg Barnes at 879-2744.

Tues. November 8th: A Forum on the Future of Health Care in Vermont. Featured speakers include Sally Pipes, president and CEO of the Pacific Research Institute, and Joel Allenbaugh, Director of Health Reform Initiatives, Maine Heritage Policy Center. 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at the Burlington Hilton on Battery Street (Registration 8:30 am). Click HERE to make your reservation today.



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