I was elected to the Vermont House of Representatives in November, 2011 and served for the term of January 2012- through 2014. I am proud of what the legislature accomplished this biennium.
Having served on the House Education Committee, I was particularly pleased that we passed the following legislation:
Universal Pre-Kindergarten for Vermont children
Currently many Vermont children do not have access to a quality pre-Kindergarten program. We know that Pre-K makes good economic sense and not only helps children be ready to learn in Kindergarten, but also studies have shown that this critical early brain development provides a lifetime of benefits including higher earnings, lower rates of incarceration and much more. Every Vermont child deserves to be able to attend a quality pre-K program.
Free school meals for children that had only been able to get reduced cost meals:
So many children in Vermont are hungry! It’s unconscionable, Children cannot learn when they are hungry and so many families didn’t have the money to pay for the reduced school lunches. We passed a bill that now provides these lunches to families that were only eligible for reduced lunches to receive them for free. Children in Vermont should not be hungry. This is a small start to the efforts to end hunger in our state and help children be successful.
Now Vermont public high school students can take up to two college classes for free. It’s important especially for students who might not have considered higher education.
I was disappointed that we were not able to pass legislation to address:
I was involved in working to find a way to reform Vermont’s archaic and unsustainable educational system.
I was shocked to learn that we have 277 school districts, 305 schools and 15 tech centers.And yet, Vermont’s student population is declining from the highest in 1997 when we had 106,341 to 2013 when we had 88,000 students statewide. We are paying over 1.4 billion dollars on education in our state for 88,000 students.
Declining enrollment and small districts has put substantial upward pressure on Vermont’s per pupil expenditures, driving up property taxes and making Vermont less affordable. I am convinced that we can spend our educational dollars more wisely. Vermont has the smallest average district size in all 50 states. It’s an expensive top heavy system that spends way too much on overhead and administration. I am very concerned about how we are spending the money, the outcomes, and the lack of oversight that exists for school spending. I am eager to return to Montpelier and help work to make sure we are spending money carefully and wisely. How much is going to overhead? Supervisory Unions? We cannot keep asking Vermonters to pay more each year at the rates our taxes have been going up. We must get a handle on spending and making sure every Vermont child is successful educationally. Neither are happening now and its wrong!
I am eager to go back to work on doing better for Vermont’s children as this expensive system isn’t giving all children in Vermont the education they need to be successful, nor is it doing right by taxpayers. It will only get worse unless something changes.
I am Proud to have Voted for:
Other legislation this session that I supported and am proud we passed into law include the following:
Allowing for death with dignity through an end of life bill
Banning the use of cell phones while driving;
Expanding solar net metering as an alternative to fossil fuels;
Labeling food/GMO l bill, since I heard from so many Vermonters that want to know what is in their food;
Protecting Vermont shore lands through expanded environmental measures
Raising Vermont’s minimum wage.
• Parent/Working Mother:
- I care about children and know firsthand how difficult it can be for working parents. I want the best for my children and I strongly feel that all of our children deserve that. I want to help assure they get it!
- I know first hand the struggles of finding quality and affordable child care, after school care, and summer care. As a working mother I remember just how critical having child care was to being able to work.Parents need to know their children are well cared for and have reliable affordable child care in order to be able to work or go to school.
- I am appalled at the college debt we are putting on our children these days as a society. It’s not good for them or our economy. We need to find ways to help our children get affordable higher education and job training.
• Advocate for Families and Children:
- I have a lengthy track record working for social change and justice.
- Too many children in Vermont are not getting what they need . We need to look out for all our children:
- We have too HIGH a percentage of children in Vermont who are living in poverty.
- While Vermont’s drop out rate is lower than the national average, we can and should do better- we still have a 10% drop out rate. This is not acceptable!
- So many Vermont children do not have access to quality early education and without quality child care programs children will not develop their potential at a key time for their early brain development. Quality child care and preschool programs will have lasting benefits on children.
- I know what it’s like to manage people, a budget, and limited resources. I daily deal with the struggles of the cost of doing business as an employer. We need to find ways to create and keep good jobs here in Vermont.
- I care about our community and want to make a difference. We live in a very special place. Both our city of Burlington and our state are very special. We are lucky to have the natural beauty we have here and the wonderful institutions and culture that makes Vermont so special. We need to foster great relationships with Champlain College and University of Vermont which have so much to offer and are a part of what makes Burlington so great. We have a rich nonprofit community that provides an array of services that enhance Vermont- from the environment, arts, health care, housing, to human services. We have a rich nonprofit community that provides an array of services that enhance Vermont- from the environment, arts, to human services. We have an incredible research, teaching and patient care hospital in Fletcher Allen that is a wonderful asset to our community. We have great performing and visual arts. All of this makes our quality of life great. I have been a part of working to support some of these causes.