The COVID-19 pandemic has forced schools and students to transform overnight. Classes have gone from in person to online, meals are being served not in school buses instead of cafeterias, and teachers are conjuring new ways to maintain bonds between their distant students. We look at the challenges confronting the Harwood Union Unified School District in Vermont. We talk to teachers, students, food service workers, and administrators to hear how they are adapting to the new normal. And we hear how one 3rd grade teacher inspires hope and humor among her students everyday. (April 1, 2020 broadcast)
Tom Drake, principal, Warren Elementary School
Jonah Ibson, teacher, Harwood Union High School
Aliza Jernigan, 11th grade student, Harwood Union High School
Brigid Nease, superintendent, Harwood Union Unified School District
Katie Sullivan, grade 3/4 teacher, Warren Elementary School
Paul Morris, food services co-director, Harwood Union Unified School District
In fall 2019, Rebecca Holcombe became the first declared candidate for Vermont governor in the 2020 gubernatorial race. Holcombe is a former teacher, principal, and she served as Vermont’s secretary of education under Governors Peter Shumlin and Phil Scott. Now she is running to unseat Scott as governor. Holcombe discusses why she’s running and the issues that are a priority for her, including climate change, workforce development, health care and education. (February 5, 2020 broadcast)
Rebecca Holcombe served as Vermont’s Secretary of Education under two governors. She was appointed in January 2014 by Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin, and kept on in January 2017 by Republican Gov. Phil Scott. She was a driving force behind Act 46, Vermont’s landmark school district consolidation law passed in 2015 that reshaped the landscape of school governance. Holcombe abruptly resigned from Gov. Scott’s administration on April 1, 2018. Two months later, she slammed Gov. Scott in a widely published op-ed, accusing him of rejecting the will of voters on local school budgets and breaking his campaign promises by increasing taxes — while saying he was lowering them. This is Holcombe’s first extended interview since leaving Scott’s cabinet. (June 6, 2018 broadcast)
Rebecca Holcombe, Vermont Secretary of Education, 2014-2018
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott promised not to raise taxes, but he is now presiding over the largest property tax increase in memory. What happened? Gov. Scott says that schools spend too much. But Rep. Dave Sharpe, chair of the Vermont House Education Committee and a former teacher, dismisses this charge and says the tax hike was brought on by Scott’s policies. Sharpe also discusses new plans for how to fund education, and expresses skepticism about the governor’s proposal to provide free college to members of the Vermont National Guard — and no one else. (February 7, 2018 broadcast)
Rep. Dave Sharpe, chair, Vt House Committee on Education
“If you want the American Dream, go to Finland,” said British politician Ed Miliband. This is the premise behind Finnish journalist Anu Partanen’s book, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life. Partanen discusses what the U.S. can learn from Finland about love, taxes, education, and happiness. She describes how Finnish mothers receive 10 months of paid maternity leave, how Finnish schools lead the world in quality and performance, and how Finnish people are happier by many measures — all for a similar level of taxation as middle-class Americans. Finally, she reflects on how she will pass on these Nordic values to her newborn daughter, an American citizen. (November 15, 2017 broadcast)
Anu Partanen, author, The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life
Every summer since 1982, high school students from Vermont and beyond spend up to two weeks living on college campuses and immersing themselves in current affairs, math, engineering, the arts, and other topics. This is the transformative experience offered by the Governor’s Institutes of Vermont which “provides young people with intensive, hands-on learning experiences in college settings, igniting academic and creative passions, building confidence and leadership, and expanding students’ sense of possibility.” Some 88 percent of alumni say GIV was one of their most important life experiences. Leaders and participants discuss the role and promise of GIV:
Vermont voters overwhelmingly rejected Gov. Phil Scott’s call to slash education spending, as 91 percent of school budgets were approved on Town Meeting Day. We discuss the politics of school budgets in Vermont, the impact of education cutbacks, the controversy around independent schools, and future of school district mergers. (March 8, 2017 broadcast)
Drones. Computer hacking. Cell phone location services. These are just some of the threats to privacy that citizens face on a daily basis. Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, discusses new legislation aimed at protecting privacy, and why he feels that Act 46, Vermont’s new education law, violates the Vermont constitution and will likely result in a lawsuit from the ACLU.
Allen Gilbert, executive director, Vermont chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union
Education funding:Does Vermont have an education funding crisis? We discuss this issue, school consolidation, and the effectiveness of the Act 60 education funding reform law with:
William J. Mathis,managing director of the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado Boulder and the former superintendent of schools for the Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union in Brandon, Vermont. He was a National Superintendent of the Year finalist and a Vermont Superintendent of the Year. He currently serves on the Vermont State Board of Education and chairs the legislative committee.
Suicide: Why does Vermont have a higher suicide rate than the national average? What are the warning signs, and what prevention resources exist?
Gov. Phil Hoff, the first Democrat elected governor in Vermont in over a century, permanently changed the politics of the Green Mountain state during his tenure, 1963-1969. Hoff — who pursued sweeping initiatives in civil rights, education, and was the first Democratic governor to break with LBJ and oppose the Vietnam War — is widely recognized as the founder of progressive politics in Vermont. Hoff celebrated his 90th birthday in June 2014. He talks about his victories and defeats, his relationship with Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, his struggle with alcoholism, his views on universal health care and education, his legacy, and he offers advice to today’s leaders.
Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe discusses her childhood attending schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan, her work as a teacher and principal, her view of education as the new civil rights issue, equity and school funding, and what she hopes … Continue reading →
Allen Gilbert, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Vermont, discusses his concerns about Tasers, threats to privacy, surveillance, drones, the revolving door in politics, education overhaul, and how his experiences traveling in former Soviet bloc countries after college shaped his views on protecting civil liberties.