Skip to main content
Monthly Archives

April 2021

Valley News – Officials: Vermont ruling on religious school tuition raises questions

By Religious school

When the Vermont Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that public funding could not be used for worship or religious education but could be used for secular classes in religious schools, it left school districts at a standstill.

Local school boards and district administrators who pay tuition fees to schools had no criteria by which to assess whether payments to a religious school would fund religion or education. Districts made their own decisions, with some paying tuition fees to religious schools and others drawing a clear line.

Last week’s decision by the Vermont State Board of Education demanding that three school districts pay tuition fees to religious schools, an issue that is also the subject of litigation in federal court, does not make matters any clearer, school officials say of two of the districts, both of them in the Upper Valley.

“Whether the State Board of Education decides to decide on a case-by-case basis seems really shortsighted to me,” said Elizabeth Burrows, chair of the Mount Ascutney School Board, which oversees education in Windsor and West Windsor.

Burrows, who was elected to Vermont House in November, submitted an invoice, HB 130, which would require the State Board of Education “to define by rule what a religious school is and set forth the standards … on how a religious school can demonstrate that it does not use public lessons for religious instruction ”.

The Council of State’s decision, made at its April 21 meeting, takes the opposite approach, noting that there was no evidence that religious schools had been asked whether they could “certify that the costs of public schooling would not be used for worship or religious education ”. says the decision.

By overturning the decisions of local school boards, the State Council, which now consists entirely of members appointed by Governor Phil Scott, drew up a narrow decision that does not clarify what actions local officials need to take to make decisions that will remain valid.

“It’s a very difficult situation,” said Nicole Buck, president of the Hartland School Board on Monday. She described the Council of State’s decision as “frustrating”.

“I think the state needs to provide more advice,” she said.

The State Council noted in its 21-page decision that since the 1999 decision in Chittenden Town School District v. Department of Education, “the state has not passed legislation or rules to implement Chittenden”.

State Board of Education chairman John Carroll, a Norwich resident, a former Republican senator for the state, said in a statement that the board would have no further comment on its decision. But he also acknowledged that the board or legislature “might wish to give advice” and that the board “might address certain issues through rule making.”

School districts in Vermont that do not operate schools at a particular grade level may pay tuition fees to public schools or approved private schools, in or outside the state. Towns in the upper Vermont valley that pay high school tuition include Corinth, Chelsea, Tunbridge, Sharon, Strafford, Hartland, and Weathersfield.

The Hartland School District was one of three districts named in a federal lawsuit filed last year on behalf of families seeking to pay for tuition at religious schools. Hartland residents Stephen and Joanna Buckley send their son to New England Classical Academy, a Catholic school in Claremont. Officials at Hartland’s school rejected their requests for tuition fees and appealed to the State Board of Education.

Additionally, Michael and Lucy Dunne, of West Windsor, have asked the Mount Ascutney School Board to pay the tuition fees for their son, who attends Kent School in Kent, Connecticut, which is affiliated with the Episcopal Church. The board rejected their request and they also appealed to the State Board of Education.

A third family, from Rutland Town, also appealed a decision regarding tuition fees, and a fourth, in the Ludlow Mt. Holly Unified Union School District, appealed, but their tuition claim went on to follow. been accepted by their district school board.

Of the four families, all but the Dunnes are plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit against the school districts and the state. The families are represented by the Institute for Justice, the same libertarian public interest law firm that represented the Chittenden School Board when it filed a lawsuit against the state in 1996.

Efforts to reach the Buckleys were unsuccessful.

Last week’s Council of State ruling reflects the state’s defense in the lawsuit, Valente, et al. v. French. Education Secretary Dan French and Carroll both filed statements with the court indicating that neither the National Agency of Education nor the Board of Education has a policy preventing local school districts from paying fees. tuition at “an independent religious school approved solely because of the school’s religious status, identity or character.”

The state also filed as evidence a list of 82 payments to religious schools made by districts in Vermont from fiscal year 2001 to fiscal year 2019. The list includes one payment to a Catholic school in Spain, several payments to Shattuck- St. Mary’s, an episcopal school in Faribault, Minn .; at Woolman, a Quaker school in Nevada City, California; and Brigham Young University, a Mormon affiliate school in Utah. Most of the payments went to prestigious episcopal college preparatory schools, including St. Paul’s School, in Concord, and St. Andrews, in Middletown, Del.

The list also contains some errors. For example, North Country Supervisory Union never paid for a student to attend a Cornerstone Christian school in fiscal 2018, but paid to send a student to a Cornerstone school, a therapeutic placement in St. Johnsbury who was coded incorrectly by the Education Agency, John Castle, superintendent at North Country, said in a recent telephone interview.

“I am convinced that we would not have paid the tuition fees at a religious school,” said Castle. Only one North Country SU school district, Coventry, pays tuition for high school, and most students attend an approved local or independent public school, Castle said.

Likewise, officials at Sharon’s school said they did not recall authorizing payment of tuition fees at Rice Memorial High School, a Catholic school in South Burlington, in fiscal 2009, although such a payment is on the state list.

“I don’t remember that situation at all,” said Donald Shaw, longtime chairman of Sharon’s school board, in a recent interview.

“Personally, I don’t remember a student attending Rice,” said Barrett Williams, then principal of Sharon Elementary School. Sharon does not have a middle school or high school and pays tuition for grades 7-12.

For this year, school districts will follow the order of the State Council and pay tuition fees to religious schools, but they hope for greater clarity next year. The federal lawsuit continues, as families seek to establish a right to receive public funds for religious education, and Burrows, a Democrat / Progressive, plans to pursue her bill in the Statehouse.

A hearing in the federal trial is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday.

Alex Hanson can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3207.

Source link

State view on fairness in vocational schools is an insult

By Vocational school

In the article “State Officials Accept Admission Changes for Vocational Schools” (Metro, April 21), Cliff Chuang, Associate Commissioner of Education, states that there are “regional urban schools that have no gaps for students of color ”. In fact, a review by the Vocational Education Justice Coalition found that, using state data, none of the 24 regional vocational schools had an equal or greater rate of offerings to applicants of color compared to those of applicants of color. white students. The differences ranged from 1 percentage point to 50 points lower. Similar results were found, with a few exceptions, when comparing low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners with their more privileged peers.

Chuang goes on to say, “There is also a danger of setting lower expectations for students of color in terms of meeting standards.” What he fails to recognize is that the state-approved selection criteria used by vocational schools are racist. Black and Latinx students are suspended much more often than white students for committing the same offense; low-income students may have attendance problems due to life circumstances; and the grades, recommendations and interviews are influenced by the biases of a group of largely white education and guidance counselors.

It is an insult to suggest that removing discriminatory selection criteria from the admissions process would set low expectations for students of color. This suggestion perpetuates racism.

It is time for the state to join the nationwide race equity movement. The only way to advance towards a level playing field in a society stratified by race and class is through a lottery system.

Juan M. Cofield


NAACP New England Region Conference

West Roxbury

The writer is also a member of the board of directors of the NAACP.

Source link

Vocational school graduates say they just can’t get a break

By Vocational school

High school students line up at a job fair held at Duksoo High School in Seongdong District, east of Seoul, in October. [NEWS1]

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on the Korean job market. But for students in vocational high schools, it is rather a disaster.

Eight in ten vocational high school students in Korea believe the coronavirus pandemic has had a “negative impact on their employment opportunities.” Seven in 10 students actually feel that the pandemic has “reduced their work opportunities.”

These are some of the findings detailed in a Union Center report that was submitted to the Presidential Economic, Social and Labor Council. The center interviewed 438 current vocational high school students in Korea or those who have already graduated to determine the impact of Covid-19 on high school students attending vocational schools.

Students in vocational high schools prefer to get a job rather than enter colleges after graduation. Most of them choose vocational schools over general secondary schools because the schools provide students with vocational training and help them prepare for employment.

“A friend of mine received job vacancies from four companies,” a high school student at a vocational high school in Seoul said in the report. “We can’t just decide to go to college at this point.”

“It’s hopeless.”

Some 63 percent of vocational high school students responded that they had experienced a delay or cancellation of a job offer. Twenty percent of them said they had job vacancies canceled before the start date.

But the lack of job opportunities is not the only problem these high school students face.

Most courses in vocational high schools include practical demonstrations that must be followed in person. But as classes have been moved online due to social distancing guidelines, many high school students have lost the chance to learn and build their skills to enter the workforce.

“Whenever we have questions while listening to lectures, we need someone to ask them directly,” another high school professional told Union Center. “Online courses just don’t work that way.”

Some 55% said the number of classes including hands-on demonstrations declined after the pandemic. About 16% said schools were running the online courses, but they were not working as they should.

Students are also suffering as many certificate exams have been canceled and delayed due to social distancing guidelines. For young Koreans, especially those who were offered a job right after high school, certain certificate exams such as TOEIC English tests or computer science exams are often required to qualify to apply for companies.

“I gave up on a certificate exam because the schedules for two important exams were overlapping due to delays,” said a senior student who attends a vocational high school in Gwangju. “We usually prepare these certificates for two years at school, but this time we had to study on our own because we weren’t allowed to go to school.”

“It is unfair.”

Some students even quit their jobs and are forced to prepare for college.

According to the Education Ministry, only 27.7 percent of vocational high school students found jobs last year. In 2017, it was 50.6%.

But during the same period, some 42.5% of high school students decided to go to college, up from 32.5% in 2017.

But Covid-19 is not the only cause, according to experts.

“Due to some factors, such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, there has been a mismatch between the ideal talent sought by companies and vocational high school students,” said Kim So-young, professor of economics at the Seoul National University. “More and more companies now prefer experienced workers to recent graduates, and this is also another reason why vocational high school students cannot find a job. ”

Some of these students are having difficulty even after being hired. The mistreatment and discrimination against high school graduates is a problem.

“People in my company often tell me things like ‘maybe you don’t understand this because you never went to college’ or ‘you don’t know because you never went. at university, “” said a graduate office worker. from a vocational school. “People have this prejudice against high school graduates, and I think it’s not a problem that can be resolved in a short time.”

Experts say changes in the country’s attitude towards vocational high school graduates and the recruitment system are urgently needed.

“Just like Germany does, Korea should treat high school graduates the same as college graduates in all areas, including pay, as long as they have expertise in certain sectors,” Park said. Young-bum, professor of economics at Hansung University. “Companies should adopt systems that can assess their employees based on their experience and performance in the work process, not just by exam or test. ”

BY SOHN HAE-YONG, CHEA SARAH [[email protected]]

Source link

An online vocational school sets up

By Vocational school

A new private vocational school has been established in downtown Brandon with a mission to prepare students for careers in mental health.

LINKS Institute President and CEO John Jackson educates the school’s first group of students as part of his six-month Community Support Worker program.

It’s an online school inspired in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jackson said Friday by phone from his office in the Brandon Chamber of Commerce building in downtown Brandon.

Seeing traditional schools struggling to switch to online education inspired him to start a boutique as an online-only institution capable of attracting students from across the province.

Because they are online-based and unaffected by the pandemic, he said this provides students with more stability than in-person institutions are currently able to maintain.

Further, he added, “I hope a dedicated online program like this will help people stay in their community.”

The six-month schedule adds additional flexibility, he said.

“There may be unemployed people looking to return to work, but they don’t necessarily have the time or commitment to devote to a university or college degree.

“It’s a win-win for them, so for me there is the satisfaction of providing solutions to a problem, and I’m really interested in improving workforce development. ”

He plans to hire two more instructors and expand their offerings beyond the initial community support worker program to include a “suite of relevant mental health and related services.”

Jackson is the former executive director of Samaritan House Ministries. He holds a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing and is currently working on a doctorate.

The Community Support Worker program aims to prepare students for positions such as group home workers, addiction workers, and life skills instructor, among others.

Jackson gave Brandon City Council a presentation on the LINKS Institute at tonight’s meeting, as he said it “is relevant not only across Manitoba, but to Brandon as a community.”

“We are currently grappling with unemployment issues so I think the board would benefit from being aware of that.”

»[email protected]

»Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB

Source link

Mass Education Commissioner recommends changes to vocational school admissions to boost fairness

By Vocational school

The Great Divide is a series of surveys that explores educational inequalities in Boston and across the state. Register now to receive our newsletter, and contact us at [email protected] with story ideas and tips.

Massachusetts Education Commissioner Jeff Riley has proposed changes to vocational and technical school admissions aimed at giving disadvantaged students a better chance to attend coveted schools.

The proposal, led for a preliminary vote on Tuesday by the State Council for Primary and Secondary Education, would remove the current requirement that selective schools take into account candidate grades, attendance, disciplinary records and recommendations from guidance counselors. Instead, schools would be allowed to set their own admission criteria, as long as those policies adhere to state and federal laws, lead to demographics that reflect school districts in their communities, do not disproportionately exclude students. marginalized groups and “promote equitable access for all students.

After more than a year of discussions with professional school leaders and civil rights groups, Riley said in a memo that “the application of a single set of state-mandated admission criteria is not in the best interests of students, families, and vocational schools and programs. “

“I think we can best address this complex problem by enabling schools and individual programs to establish policies that meet the needs of their home communities,” said Riley.

Civil rights organizations, which had called for a lottery system similar to those used by charter schools, have long criticized the current admission criteria as discriminating against students of color, low-income students. income, English learners and students with disabilities, depriving them of an important career path into the middle class. Data shows that these groups are all much less likely to be accepted into schools than their peers.

Meghan Corrigan worked in a construction technology course at the Blue Hills Regional Technical School in September. The school offers programs such as automotive technology, electrical work, cosmetology, and culinary arts. Jonathan Wiggs / Globe Staff

The new proposal does not prescribe how schools should judge applicants, although it does establish some safeguards. For example, schools could no longer take into account minor breaches of discipline or candidate behavior. Nor could they use criteria that lead to disproportionate exclusion rates of students based on their race, disability, language or income – unless schools can demonstrate that it does not. There is no other fairer option and that criteria are essential for participation. in the program.

“This is a high standard that [we] I think few criteria could meet other than promotion to ninth grade, ”said Dan French, of Citizens for Public Education, speaking on behalf of a coalition of groups fighting for change.

Riley also recommended that vocational schools submit their admissions policies annually for state review. The state could order changes, including the implementation of a lottery system, if admissions are found to be unfair, he said.

The proposal follows years of advocacy by the Vocational Education Justice Coalition, whose members include politicians, civil rights organizations, education advocates, teachers’ unions and construction unions. The coalition said a lottery system would give every student equal access to public vocational schools, which they say have become exclusive institutions for college students, in part because of the pressure schools felt to improve. MCAS standardized test results and their academic reputation.

Many students interested in the trades, but with less impressive academic records, often flounder through regular high schools and end up dropping out, they say.

About half of vocational school graduates were in two or four-year colleges 12 to 16 months after graduating, state officials said. But they said that did not mean that all these students did not belong to a vocational school; a number of professional fields, such as nursing, require higher education. About a third of graduates were working in a field related to their vocational school’s major, and 11% were working in an unrelated field.

In response to growing concerns about fairness, the state recently analyzed waitlist data for 18,560 vying candidates for 10,600 ninth graders. places in 58 selective regional vocational schools. This analysis appeared to support the coalition’s concerns, showing that voice technology schools admitted only half of the English learners who applied, while 70 percent of fluent English speakers were admitted. Only 60 percent of applicants of color got places, compared to 73 percent of white applicants.

The coalition said the proposal was an important step, although its members fear that the flexibility of school districts could lead to the adoption of problematic policies with little state oversight.

“This will require continued proactive review on the part of the [Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] and action against any new admissions policies submitted by individual schools if they attempt to retain certain aspects of the current discriminatory ranking systems, ”said Jack Livramento, United Interfaith Action member of New Bedford and Fall River, as well as the Massachusetts Communities Action Network. .

The Massachusetts Association of Vocational Administrators welcomed the proposal, saying it gave schools crucial autonomy to meet the diverse needs of the community.

Vocational and technical schools strive to ensure that all students who wish to take their programs have “equal access and opportunity to do so,” said Maureen Lynch, association president-elect and superintendent of Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill.

“Our members have worked hard to share and discuss best practices for admissions policies that are equitable and that promote diversity and inclusion,” added Lynch.

If approved, the draft regulation will be subject to public comment for two months before a final vote in June.

Naomi Martin can be reached at [email protected]

Source link