More than 100 students and educators gathered under the Golden Dome Wednesday, sporting yellow scarves and advocating for more school choice opportunities in Vermont.
School choice began in 1869 in the Green Mountain State, it was one of the first systems in the country. It gives families the option of attending a local school or any school in Vermont that better fits students’ needs for any reason.
“Bullying, just an environment of learning that’s not working well for them, maybe the school is too big,” said Brad Ferland, co-chair of National School Choice Week Vermont. “Kids’ lives have changed when they’ve gone to a new school and gotten a fresh start.”
Kids like Chandre Pero who struggled in her public school in Brattleboro. She said her grades slipped from honors to barely passing.
“I lost myself in public school, I didn’t see myself getting to graduation,” said Chandre Pero. “I could barely see making it past my sophomore year.”
Chandre began using drugs and ultimately had to leave school for rehab. If she didn’t have the option to start fresh, she believes things would be different.
“I would’ve fell even harder,” Chandre said. “I don’t know what I would have done, I don’t know if I’d be here. I needed that environment, and that stability to get back on my feet.”
As Act 46 forces many small schools around the state to merge, advocates want to remind legislators the importance of small, rural communities.
“I think it’s a big danger and I think it’s a nail in the coffin of small town Vermont if we don’t make some corrective action on this,” Ferland said.