In his State of the State address, Governor Douglas announced the formation a task force on education. Ho hum. If the feeble Vermont economy has a single growth industry, it is studies, commissions, and task forces. You can't throw a rock in this state without hitting a task force earnestly studying some issue or another.
The governor's education task force was organized on the usual principle of including people of opposing political parties and persuasions in the hope of somehow squaring the circle. The old logical dialectic whereby the tension between a thesis & antithesis yields some great new synthesis.
These things are not, however, driven by logic but by human nature. Since nobody is willing to surrender, all involved agree to agree on the blandest possible conclusions and to urge further study of the issues. Then everyone goes home.
Since it included, among others, Senator Susan Bartlett from the left and Rick Hube from the right, this task force seemed no different. However ... this task force also included, among its citizen participants, our friend Hugh Kemper. And for that reason there is hope. We know of a certainty, that this task force will hear something other than the usual "it's about the children" pablum. The members will get thorough research, hard facts, and unsentimental, rational conclusions. That's the sort of coin Hugh Kemper deals in. He is not a politician, though he once made the disastrous mistake of running for his local school board. He was elected and, as is his custom, took the job seriously. He was roundly calumniated for his trouble.
We have been publishing Kemper's findings for almost two years now and you may find them in the right-hand column of this page under the heading: Essential Reading. We also published, recently, Kemper's very concise view of how one should think about public money and finance.
Like all of Hugh Kemper's work, these do not fall under the category "light reading." But they are worth the effort. Kemper has:
b) come up with a plan for reigning in these costs while staying within the limits of the Brigham decision and continuing to provide a quality education for Vermont's children
This is a formidable accomplishment. The kind of true synthesis that these task forces are established to find. It is up to the elected officials now to either ratify it or recommend a better plan to reign in spending. And if they won't – or can’t –for citizens to compel them to.
Hugh Kemper will be elaborating on his finding on this site and we will be asking him questions to help clarify our understanding of his findings and conclusions.
We are relieved to know that he is our man in Montpelier.