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Forum, Feb. 10: Lake Pinneo Story Was Old News


Saturday, February 10, 2018
Lake Pinneo Story Was Old News

I was surprised by the misleading article in Thursday’s Valley News about the Quechee Lakes Landowners Association policy restricting public access to Lake Pinneo (“Lake Pinneo Stays Members Only,” Feb. 8).

A casual reader might conclude the QLLA board has discussed the issue at length, when in fact the subject hasn’t come up at our monthly meetings in quite a while. Nor has a request to revisit the policy come from the Selectboard or anyone else involved in town government.

To be clear, it seems the Valley News wants to stir the pot by rehashing an old story. The policy limiting Lake Pinneo to QLLA owners is neither new nor particularly newsworthy. There is no linkage with the town’s decision to close the local pool due to budget constraints.

Is there a chance the QLLA board will reconsider its position? Possibly, if presented with a thoughtful proposal from the town of Hartford that also fits our members’ needs. But I have to add that it is much less likely with the paper publishing stories that reignite past differences.

Craig Allsopp

President, Quechee Lakes Landowners Association

A Flawed Civics Education Bill

The Vermont Legislature is considering a bill, H. 793, that would require Vermont students to pass a civics test in order to graduate from high school. While we appreciate the spirit of the legislation — to underscore education’s role in creating future citizens — we have concerns about the way the bill attempts to achieve this end.

Social studies courses are often associated with rote multiple-choice tests that require the regurgitation of facts. However, there has been a strong push away from this type of instruction and assessment in the last two decades. This trend has culminated in the creation of a set of standards, known as the C3, that seek to prepare students for college, career and civic life. Vermont adopted these standards last fall.

These new standards move social studies education away from the mere memorization of facts, and help students acquire the skills they need to create their own knowledge by asking questions and gathering and evaluating sources. Moreover, the standards push students to do something with what they know: argue, explain, discuss, present and take action.

H. 793 would undermine these very positive developments in social studies education. It would send the message that, in the realm of civic engagement, it is more important to know how many times our Constitution has been amended — one question we encountered on the sample citizenship test — than it is to be able to read critically, discuss collegially and write clearly. Our students and our democracy deserve better.

The Vermont Agency of Education is working with social studies teachers from around the state to develop a set of proficiency-based graduation requirements for social studies. We are confident that these requirements, which students will have to meet to graduate from high school, will ensure that Vermont’s graduates have a sound foundation in the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary for them to participate thoughtfully and meaningfully in civic life. The proposed civics test would only serve as a distraction from the real work that needs to be done in civics education.

Matthew McCormick and Brad Archer

Teachers, Woodstock Union High School Middle School

Questions on Lebanon School Budget

As I review the Lebanon School District budget for 2018, I have the following questions and comments:

Why did the School Board lump all the “modernization” projects into one warrant article (Article 2) of $28.9 million? Did they figure that the modernization projects’ cost, while perhaps initially rejected, might eventually gain voter approval? If that was their thinking doesn’t that undermine the urgency of doing  those projects?

Remember that this warrant article does not include the overall budget of $43.2 million, a 2.2 percent increase that will result in more than a $200 tax increase on a $225,000 property. It also does not include the other warrant articles that will result in at least $300,000 in costs if approved.

In the past, Lebanon taxpayers have been generous in funding our schools. As we vote on these articles, we also need to keep in mind as Lebanon taxpayers the increases in the city budget, including also the steady rise in water and sewer rates.

I hope voters will keep these questions and comments in mind as we vote on March 13.

Tom McGonis

Lebanon

Hartford Board Erred on Energy

I find it most disheartening that, on the one hand, the Valley News would decide to bury action on the climate crisis under the headline “Track Among Hartford’s Finalized Ballot Measures” (Jan. 20), and two, that the Hartford Selectboard could be so inconstant as to waffle on whether fossil fuel infrastructure should be on the ballot.

The Selectboard’s capriciousness is inexcusable. It had originally voted, in December and May, respectively, to include the energy and Indigenous People’s Day resolutions on the ballot, and then last month reversed its position.

What’s the board’s agenda? The Town Meeting form of government is thought by many to be the purest and most direct form of democracy remaining in the United States today. Government suppression of information (the fossil fuel issue) sounds subversive, not democratic.

The Selectboard should put fossil fuel infrastructure front and center on the ballot. Would that save the world? No, but it may get people thinking, and any decline in our carbon footprint rate may buy us time. The midterms may even bring us a sea change.

Kevin Leveret

White River Junction

Diversity in the Jumble Puzzle

I enjoy Jumble, that scrambled word game, both because it is enjoyable to play, and mostly because it includes, with great regularity, black people in the cartoons.

Alison Gravel

Royalton