Take Action! School COVID Recovery & Standardized Tests

We are getting organized throughout the state for education justice and we need your support!

Fighting for a Just COVID School Recovery

Vermont school districts are receiving a combined 285 Million as part of the American Recovery Act with some school districts receiving over 20 million. The question remains as to whether schools will utilize these funds to push forth transformation and justice or work to remediate conditions to get back to the status quo. The state has created a framework for districts to spend this funding on three priories: 1) Social emotional functioning, mental health, and well-being, 2) student engagement, and 3) academic achievement and success. These are broad categories, therefore there is a lot of flexibility as to how districts spend this funding.

The current decision making process, of creating a district Recovery Team, does not specifically include students, parents, and teachers and has no measures to center the voices of those most marginalized by the pandemic and pre-pandemic school injustice in this decision. This work will move quickly and without including us if we don’t speak up. We call on our education justice community to begin questioning their district leaders and calling for community input in this process.  And please stay tuned as we collectively create and share recommendations that help move us towards education justice in the next couple weeks. We will be sharing updates and resources about this campaign here

Fill out this survey if you’d like to give input and fight for a just COVID-19 school recovery in your school or district.

Speak Out Against Standardized Tests in Vermont

As we near the end of this global pandemic we have an opportunity not to go back to business as usual when business as usual wasn’t serving students and teachers. Standardized tests were created to rank and sort individuals focused on the idea of superiority and have historical roots in eugenics. They are misused, over-relied on, and biased. Standardized tests do not measure creativity, leadership, hands-on skills, critical thinking, collaboration, or empathy. Right now we want to focus on relationships and strengthening support for our students and families. Right now there is an opening for action where we can push back on the state’s insistence to go full speed ahead with standardized testing.

Last year the federal government and Vermont fully cancelled standardized tests. This year, the federal government is being flexible, recognizing that states will not get as many students as typical to test and that results will not be accurate because of the pandemic. Vermont is planning to go ahead with full testing, while other states have put forth testing plans that significantly reduce testing. We call on Vermont to not go back to business as usual, especially when we all recognize these test results will not be accurate or useful. We ask Vermont to put forth a plan to significantly reduce testing this year and in the future. To learn more about this issue, check out this overview document.

Here are three actions you can take:

  • Write a public comment to the Agency of Education (AOE.EDInfo@vermont.gov) to urge them to have a testing plan that requires less testing for Vermont students for this year and beyond. Here are tips for writing public comments and a template.
  • Fill out this survey to share your opinion and stay in touch about future actions such as being part of a student/family opt out campaign.
  • Share this info about this campaign on social media.

This action is organized by the Waterbury Area Anti-racism Coalition in collaboration with the Education Justice Coalition of Vermont. Contact waterburyantiracism@gmail.com with questions!

Education Justice Coalition Pension Solidarity Statement

UPDATE: People power and public pressure wins! The house speaker dropped the plan to cut pensions!

The Education Justice Coalition of Vermont is in solidarity with Vermont public school educators and other state employees whose pensions are being attacked by the state. We see this assault on educator pensions as part of a larger attack on public schools and public school students. If educators are not financially and emotionally sustained in their profession the culture and climate of schools are impacted.

Every day, our teachers are being asked to educate our kids and during this global pandemic they have gone above and beyond. Teachers have worked extra and late hours, carrying tremendous emotional labor caring for our students, and have educated themselves to become better professionals to meet the needs of shifting times and priorities. Our solidarity goes with all of our public schools educators who are at the forefront working with us towards serious change towards the implementation of Act 1, the Ethnic Studies and Social Equity Working Group.

Educators should be able to have a dignified pension. We call on the state of Vermont to not balance the budget on the backs of educators and other state workers and instead find this needed money through a wealth tax on those who can afford to pay. Please come out this Saturday to a rally to support educators and other state employees.

Do the Right thing Rally

Vermont Statehouse

Saturday, April 3rd 11:00

Sharing the work of the Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network

The Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network is a group of students working for anti-racism in our schools. They believe that students across VT are not being taught enough about racism or discrimination. Recently, they created a survey asking about student’s racial diversity education in elementary school, here are the result. With only 16.9% of students responding affirmatively to “my school actively pursued conversations about race and racism”, this powerful student research points to the urgent need for change. Below is a message from Vermont Student Anti-racism Network and you can get in touch with them here antiracismvtschools@gmail.com.

“A way to combat this inequity is to change the mainstream curriculum to be more inclusive for all students, this includes learning about housing segregation. The Color of Law book and video go over untaught American history. They can also be a jump-off point for other conversations. Without these conversations, students will not ever learn about unfair justice in our government. They also will never grow up to change these government policies. Through our network, a dozen or so of us students are bringing the Color of Law lesson plans to our teachers in the hopes they can include it in the mainstream curriculum where all students are exposed to it. We’d like to share these resources:

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