In her commentary, “Earning and Learning,” Patricia Moulton, president of Vermont Technical College lays out her plans to improve education outcomes and help students.
A very noble undertaking.
However, she begins her commentary with the same fundamental flaw, the same misconception the same falsehoods that the secretary of education, the deputy secretary of education and Gov. Phil Scott have recently written or talked about in the media.
Moulton begins by stating, “Vermont has one of the highest high school graduation rates in the nation. We also have one of the lowest rates in the country for high school grads entering college.”
There is a reason for that and I have written about it many times and campaigned on it in my recent run for governor. The numbers for Vermont’s high school graduation rate do not reflect the real reality. The reality is that the real graduation rate is somewhere between 60-70 percent not 86.7 percent. Many of those students who are allowed to graduate cannot read above a sixth-grade level and many cannot write a fully-developed paragraph. What’s more many of them lack the basic skills for attaining even an entry level position in their local job market.
Of the 60 percent that go on to college, 14 percent will drop out within the first year. For many the reason is they were not prepared and should not have been accepted. However, college is now a business and they need students to run that business; even if it’s only for a semester or two.
Vermont Public Schools are not some of the best schools in the country. They are, as Vermonters have come to realize, one of the most expensive. During my campaign for governor, I explained what was needed to effect real change in educating our public-school students. Scott acknowledged to me that he understood cell phones and iPads must not be allowed in public schools. I hope that he will follow through on that. That would be a big first step.
The first step in solving any problem is to admit there is a problem. In Montpelier and in every supervisory union there is a refusal to even begin to acknowledge this. From the governor to our local high school principals it seems acknowledging this would be to admit that what they have been doing is failing and so we keep hearing about how Vermont has one of the best education systems in the country but our students leave school and cannot find jobs and fail to go to college at a high rate but it’s not because they lack an education.
Charles Laramie, Fair Haven