Forum, Jan. 26: Celebrating ‘Difference’ Selectively

Thursday, January 25, 2018
Celebrating ‘Difference’ Selectively

A recent letter applauded The Sharon Academy’s commitment to exploring diversity (“Think About ‘Difference’ Differently,” Jan. 20). The letter reminded me of the fight in the Legislature, led in part by The Sharon Academy, to ensure that private schools don’t have to follow rules related to serving students with disabilities.

It seems The Sharon Academy’s commitment to diversity applies only to race and as an academic exercise, as opposed to an authentic experience.

A more substantive commitment to supporting difference would include embracing all students, on par with peers such as Lyndon Institute and Thetford Academy.

I lead a nonprofit that works to ensure that students with disabilities have access to public charter schools. I founded the organization because I am committed to fighting for civil rights, and to the importance of parental choice being an option for all parents, not just those affluent enough to live in certain communities or to pay tuition.

Many private schools voluntarily welcome and educate students with disabilities. The Sharon Academy provides only limited services for students who require specialized supports. In a 2017 Vermont Public Radio report, The Sharon Academy Director Michael Livingston argued against requirements related to educating students with disabilities in part because doing so would lesson his ability to be creative. I find this argument spurious, as creativity and innovation are central to providing individualized supports to students who learn differently. Furthermore, having peers with learning differences in the classroom teaches all students about difference.

Friends who have chosen to send children to The Sharon Academy have been pleased with the education their children received. I wholly support this choice, in part because I embrace the concept of school choice. However, if we are going to grow school choice using public dollars, programs must embrace the responsibilities grounded in our nation’s commitment to civil rights and responsibilities that accompany public dollars. Choice programs that don’t embrace these responsibilities are discriminating against students and should not be eligible to accept public dollars.

Lauren Morando Rhim, Ph.D.

Executive Director and Co-Founder, National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools


President’s Supporters Still Here

A recent letter questioned where all the president’s supporters were. (“Trump’s Defenders Are AWOL,” Jan. 16). I guess the writer figures we all left the room. Well, we are here, and we are doing our best to ignore those who sit and mourn all the corrections our president is making to our nation’s contracts.

Though he does make some questionable comments, he, like myself, pretty much calls it like he sees it. Some folks are offended by this. Get your big boy pants on and get over it. He is our president. He was and still is the lesser of two evils during the last election cycle.

So, yes, we are still here. But in hindsight, I support all our presidents the same, regardless of what party they are from.

You see, if they fail, we all fail. And then our nation will look a lot like Vermont, a very failed liberal experiment.

Douglas Tuthill

West Hartford

All We Get Is Lies

Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton swore that he didn’t have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky. Did you believe him? Later, George W. Bush claimed that Osama bin Laden and his boys knocked down the Twin Towers, as if such a thing were even possible. Maybe you believed him then. Maybe, for reasons that I can’t understand, you still do.

Along came Barack Obama promising change we can believe in. Perhaps you imagined that he actually meant what he was saying.

Donald Trump vowed to drain the swamp. More likely, the swamp will drain him.

Soon enough will come yet another smooth-talking self-promoter with a mountain of cash and a mouthful of empty promises. Will you follow with blind faith? Yes, probably you will. And why not? We’re Americans. We still have the right to believe in fairy tales. At the rate we’re going, it may be the only right we’ll have left.

There’s no President Moses who is going to lead us to the promised land. Fairy tales are for children. Presidents work on behalf of the paymasters, not us. They get rich. We get lies — no truth, no justice. That, after all, is what happened to this country. None of the important things, the ones that really matter, have priority, just the relentless pursuit of green paper.

Neil Meliment


Article on 'The Post' Was Brilliant

Thank you, Valley News and Nicola Smith, for the superb article about the film The Post (“The Ironies of ‘The Post’: Journalism Is Seldom as Tidy or as Accepted as the Spielberg Version Makes It Seem,” Jan. 19).

How fortunate we are to be able to read in our local paper Smith’s concise history of the Pentagon Papers, a review of the film and the discussion of the current state of journalism. Just as the Valley News reprints articles from major newspapers, there should be a reciprocal arrangement whereby Smith’s brilliant and moving article could be published nationwide.

Martha Stein