At a March 25 board of education meeting, Vermont Agency of Education official Deborah Quackenbush said the state might stop accepting third-party accreditation of independent schools. Quackenbush questions the quality of the process and said her bureaucracy can do a better job.
Local schools, like St. Johnsbury Academy, Lyndon Institute, Lyndon State College and Thaddeus Stevens are accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges - the nation's oldest regional agency (founded 1885). NEASC also serves more than 2,000 public and independent schools and universities, including places you may have heard of like Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Brown, MIT, Amherst, Boston College, Middlebury, and UVM.
Good enough for the Ivy League but not good enough for Quackenbush... a lifetime bureaucrat, with an education degree from LSC who hit the lottery with a $90,000 a year state job?
Clearly this is ridiculous. But then, the issue isn't about the quality of accreditation. It's about the terror the public school bureaucracy feels at losing its choke-hold monopoly on education. Which is why, in the face of mounting taxpayer angst over the exploding cost of education, so many frontal attacks on independent schools are coming out of Montpelier.
But if it wants to maintain its death grip on families, the BLOB would be wiser to focus on disorder in its own house before wasting energy casting stones at those schools making it look so foolish and inept.
After all, Vermont ranks last in the country for public education policy, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council. The ALEC annual report says Vermont rejects charter schools, online learning, innovation and school choice. It also says Vermont protects bad teachers and resists changes to standards.
On the bright side, the report also ranks Vermont highest in the country for low-income student achievement. That sounds pretty good, until you consider a couple of key variables. First, we don't have minority (non-native English speaking) populations that tend to drive down scores elsewhere. Second, we spend more money than anyone else does.