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Forum, June 28: The Vermont-NEA’s Cash Grab


Wednesday, June 27, 2018
The Vermont-NEA’s Cash Grab

Mark Twain allegedly once said “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” We have all heard, and probably said, “You get what you pay for.”

The Vermont-National Education Association has run ads in recent days criticizing Gov. Phil Scott’s veto of the state budget. In those ads, the spokeswoman says Vermont’s schools are among the “best in the country.” That may or may not be true, and is such a very subjective comment I wouldn’t know how to confirm its veracity. I do know Vermont’s government-run schools are among the most costly in the country in terms of per-pupil spending. Perhaps we should take a look at what we are getting for our money.

I frequently encounter high school graduates who can’t correctly use “your” and “you’re” (I dare not ask them to use “yore”), and similarly can’t correctly use “there,” “they’re” or “their.” They are unable to perform simple multiplication, are unable to locate their hometown on a map of the state, can’t name one of Vermont’s U.S. senators and can’t name their representative to the state Legislature. These are but a few examples. In all of those cases, the people in question are products of an education provided by NEA member teachers. By what measure are schools among the “best in the country” if high school graduates can’t perform elementary school tasks?

From my vantage point, it seems the Vermont-NEA is grossly interfering with the education of our young people, and we are most certainly not getting what we are paying for. The Vermont-NEA appears to be much more interested in protecting its own interests than in improving education, and it is using children as pawns in the game to grab more cash from Vermont taxpayers.

The Vermont-NEA spokeswoman also takes Scott to task for “Washington-style” politics. I’ll bet she thinks those tactics are just fine when U.S. Sen. Patrick “Pork Barrel Pat” Leahy employs them.

Ernie Amsden

Royalton

Mount Sunapee Belongs to the People

Many media outlets have announced that Vail Resorts has a pending sales agreement to buy several ski properties, among them Mount Sunapee State Park’s ski resort. Let’s be clear: No one is buying Mount Sunapee’s ski resort. Vail wishes to purchase lease and operating rights to our ski resort which is now, and will remain, New Hampshire state property. Vail will invest in its new acquisitions within two years, with some monies coming to Mount Sunapee’s ski resort.

The state has not yet reacted to this important news. New Hampshire citizens nevertheless expect an official state response. A shocking lack of state oversight occurred when ski resort lease rights were last transferred in 2017 to criminally sanctioned hedge fund Och-Ziff. That lease transfer did not receive governor and Executive Council review and approval as called for in the original lease of 1998 and typically required in state contract negotiations. Additionally, the enabling legislation for that lease called for creation of a commission to oversee and regulate activity at the ski resort. That commission was never established. So the important question with respect to the pending Vail lease and operator purchase remains: By whom, under what authority, and through what process, is the state overseeing this transfer of state assets?

The people of New Hampshire have a right to expect their government will exercise significant and consistent oversight of this transfer, and that this process, however long it takes, will be transparent with substantial public input opportunities.

Alan Zola Shulman

New London

Who’s Responsible for the Database?

While volunteering in Virginia to take an injured person to the emergency room for follow up, I was stopped by Fairfax County police on a license plate scan. It seems that my Vermont license and my Virginia auto (in middle of move) did not match. On the way home after completing the visit, I was stopped again for the same reason. I asked this officer why this was happening. She explained it was a quiet night and police were just scanning, or “surfing,” the plates.

What every citizen who prizes freedom should ask is: How perfect is the database behind the license plate reader? Every old parking ticket paid but not recorded, every overdue book or other record in the public sector could trigger at stop.

In New Hampshire, I received a toll charge when the E-ZPass did not register. After two days and several hours of work, I found a live person who discovered a database error and corrected it. Having run database management for a large phone company, I know that conflicts across various databases are the norm and updates are often forgotten.

The Sunapee police chief should be accountable for the database behind his department’s new license plate readers (“After Ban Ends, Sunapee Police Among First With Plate Reader,” June 17).

Harvey Bazarian

Hartford

Some Downtown Design Advice

If I could have attended the downtown White River Junction design charrette, I would say the same thing I’ve said in this space now and again for the last 30 years: Those horrid gantry signs from the 1960s relocation of Route 5 have got to go.

They may tell you which road to take, but they also say, “This is a transient area, where ugliness is permitted, so keep going.”

And where’s the signage for the Arts District, which has helped to make downtown downtown again?

Dick Mackay

Hanover

The writer is affiliated with White River Junction office developer Railroad Row LLC.