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Letter: For True School Choice, Change the Rules

To the Editor:

Recently, there have been several letters to the editor supporting Vermont school choice and competition among schools, both private and public. I support choice and competition as well. But, in this case, the rules of fair play are being broken because Vermont state law currently allows for an unequal playing field in education. The most glaring equity issue is between publicly funded private schools and public schools. Both types of schools depend on public tuition money. But private schools do not have to offer special education or free lunch. They do not have to administer standardized tests, and they are allowed to pick and choose which students they want.

Public schools, on the other hand, have to offer everything and accept every student. This is not an environment that fosters fair and productive competition. We can create a truly equitable and competitive system by requiring private schools that take public tuition money to accept all students, regardless of their disability, behavior or attitude. Vermont Senate Bill S.91, making its way through the system now, would do just that. Only when the rules are fair and balanced can we have the conversation about true school choice.

Sharon O’Connor

South Royalton