Frequently Asked Questions about Act 1

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who is VCESES?
  • What is Act 1?
  • What does the law do?
  • Is this a mandate for schools?
  • So what are “standards?”
  • What about hazing, harassment, and bullying in Vermont schools?
  • What is the Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Working Group?
  • What are the qualifications to apply?
  • What is the commitment to participate in the working group?
  • Do I have to be an educator or have special degrees to apply?
  • I need special accommodations. Will those be provided?
  • How can I apply?

Who is VCESES?

The Vermont Coalition on Ethnic and Social Equity in Schools or VCESES is a statewide coalition led by a multicultural and multigenerational group including people of color from various racial, ethnic and indigenous groups; women; and anti-poverty, disability rights, and LGBTQIA advocates. Founded in 2017, the coalition includes elders, students, parents, educators and organizations from throughout Vermont. VCESES was the driving force behind the recent passage of Act 1, the Ethnic and Social Equity Standards bill.

Together, we are working with communities across the state to create plans to support youth, families, educators, and schools to understand the need for curriculum that represents diverse histories and accomplishments and school climates that are supportive of the needs of all students to achieve their best.

What is Act 1?

Act 1 is a new Vermont law that brings together the members of the public from different ethnic and social backgrounds, the state and the education community to help tackle bias, discrimination, and inequity in Vermont Schools. The goal is to help schools to support better the needs of youth who are underrepresented like:

  • women and girls
  • youth with disabilities
  • immigrants
  • refugees
  • LGBTQIA
  • Abenaki
  • people from other indigenous groups
  • people of African, Asian, Pacific Island, Chicanx, Latinx, or Middle Eastern descent
  • groups that have been historically subject to persecution or genocide

What does the law do?

The law creates a 20-person group called the Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group that will review educational standards and policies in Vermont schools and create suggestions for improvement that can be accepted by the state and selected by schools for use on a local level.

These suggestions will go to the Vermont State Board of Education to review and adopt if they agree with the findings.

Is this a mandate for schools?

It does not force or “mandate” that any school uses a specific curriculum or lesson plans. Those choices are still made in your local community and not by the state.

So what are “standards?”

Standards are what help schools determine what they will teach. Standards set expectations for what students need to know in different subjects like mathematics, social studies, sciences, language arts, and more. Schools decide on the books, activities, and other learning tools they will use based on the requirements laid out in the state standards.

This new law and the results of the working group are important tools – but they are not enough. We need parents, youth, and community members to dive in and support their schools in preparing for these needed changes through education and involvement. This work does not need a law to happen, but it does need you to make sure it is successful.

What about hazing, harassment, and bullying in Vermont schools?

In 2012, the Agency of Education established a Harassment, Hazing, and Bullying Prevention Advisory Council to address “incidents of harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention strategies and resources; and to coordinate statewide activities related to the prevention of and response to harassment, hazing, and bullying. The council reports annually in January to the state board and the house and senate committees on education.” To prevent harassment, hazing, and bullying, it is important to address the root causes which include creating more inclusive, non-discriminatory school environments. The recommendations from the working group may include suggested training for teachers, administrators, and staff, and revisions of current practices in reporting and addressing incidents of hazing, harassment, and bullying against students from different ethnic and social groups.  Many of the members of the Harassment, Hazing and Bullying Prevention Council will also serve on the working group created by Act 1.

About the Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group

Act 1 created the Ethnic and Social Equity Standards Advisory Working Group to support this work. In total, the working group will include 20 people from throughout the state. VCESES will lead the effort to recruit and select 11 individuals; 8 adults, two high school students and one Vermont-based, college-level faculty expert in ethnic studies for the working group from throughout the state.

  • The working group will meet on an agreed schedule to help complete the work over the next three years
  • Mileage reimbursement and stipends for participation provided
  • VCESES has committed that the community-based members will represent the interests of various ethnic and social groups and have experience in ethnic standards or studies, social justice, inclusivity, or advocacy for the groups they represent
  • Training and on-going support provided at no cost throughout the three years

What are the qualifications to apply?

  • As a group, including those appointed by VCESES should represent broad, geographic spread across Vermont
  • Experience in ethnic standards or studies, social justice, inclusivity, and advocacy for the groups they represent is crucial
  • You do not have to be an expert in school policy or curriculum to apply or serve on the working group

What is the commitment to participate in the working group?

This is a 3-year position from Fall 2019 -Summer 2022. The Secretary of Education will convene working group at an agreed date, time and place and then create a schedule and workplan to accomplish its goals. Meetings may range in frequency and length from once monthly and for any length of time, from one to two hours. Meeting locations will be determined by the group.

Do I have to be an educator or have special degrees to apply?

No you do not. All you need is a passion for Vermont education. Training will be provided for those interested at no cost to the participants.

I need special accommodations. Will those be provided?

Yes! By law, the state of Vermont will provide any technology, translation or interpretation needs for participants by request.

How do I apply?

Anyone can apply in either of these following ways (please choose one):

  1. Send a letter of intent with your name, address, and contact information and responses to the questions below to vtethnicstudies@gmail.com (limit 2-pages, double spaced)
  2. Complete this online form: http://bit.ly/2XxK4vA
  3. Record your answers: (toll-free) 1-800-819-0859
  4. Submit a video response: https://woobox.com/9dsrmi

Applicants will need to answer the following questions in their responses:

  • Please introduce yourself. Who are you and how do you identify? (Please share anything you would like for us to know about your race, class, ability, gender, sexuality, religion, geography and anything else that feels relevant.)
  • How did you learn about this opportunity? Why is this important to you?
  • If selected, what accommodations do you need to participate on this group?
  • “Until we are all free, none of us are free.” What does this quote mean to you?

All are encouraged to apply, the only prerequisite a passion for Vermont education.

Who are the other appointees to the working group?

  • Other members of the working group who were selected by their organizations include:
  • the Secretary of Education or designee;
  • the Executive Director of the Vermont-National Education Association or designee;
  • the Executive Director of Racial Equity or designee;
  • the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association or designee;
  • a representative for the Vermont Principals’ Association with expertise in the development of school curriculum;
  • a representative for the Vermont Curriculum Leaders Association;
  • the Executive Director of the Vermont Superintendents Association or designee;
  • the Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools Association or designee; and
  • the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission or designee

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