Vermonters for Better Education
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What's going on in Montpelier now absolutely defies logic and common sense. The Ruling Party is desperately trying to devise a way to, if not outlaw, at least radically discourage private contributions to public schools. They are doing it to emasculate generous grants from the Freeman Foundation to school districts impacted heavily by the Robin Hood schemes of Act 60. They are attempting to equate private contributions with public tax money, thereby requiring towns that receive them to share such contributions with less fortunate towns through the Act 60 sharkpool.
In the name of education, the Democrat-controlled legislature, in Act 60, created a wildly socialistic scheme for the redistribution of wealth, a scheme that is perhaps the most unpopular law ever to emerge from Montpelier. Now, instead of acknowledging that the whole idea of a sharkpool is morally and politically bankrupt and abandoning it in favor of something that doesn't offend logic, common sense, and justice, the same people insist that they can fix it by outlawing philanthropy.
Should they be successful, what happens to the philanthropic instinct in Vermonters? Do we want to see our gifts transformed into tax dollars and redistributed to recipients we don't know? What happens should a private company, say IBM in Essex Junction, decide to give a laptop computer to every student in the district? Should the Essex Junction school district be forced to make penalty payments to the State, or should IBM be required to give a laptop to every student in the state as a penalty for its generosity to Essex Junction? What happens if someone who remembers her school fondly leaves a substantial bequest to her old district? Must the district turn half of the bequest over to the State? What happens if a PTG conducts a successful fund drive for a new hockey rink or arts center? Must half the money be sent to Montpelier for redistribution to districts whose PTG's haven't raised any money?
In 1949, George Orwell, one of the most astute political commentators of the century, wrote a prophetic book called "1984." In that book he created a world wherein the ideologues of the State, which had taken over all of the affairs of its citizens, reversed all values in order to retain their power and push their unjust and tyrannical ideas. It appears that George Orwell is alive and well in Montpelier. Public philanthropy is so peculiarly American that it is almost instinctual with us. Are we now to believe that the charitable instinct is a vice, not a virtue; that giving to public institutions is antisocial; and that equity in the funding of education is the assurance that all of us will be poor.
Isn't it time that the moderates in both parties rein in the wild-eyed liberals who just don't get it? Isn't it time to undo the nonsense that Act 60's Robin Hood redistribution of wealth scheme has spawned? Isn't it time that ideology take a back seat to logic, common sense, and justice?
Bernier L. Mayo
March 15, 1999