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I can’t imagine a better time for our community to think collectively about the future of education. The pandemic has upturned our lives. It has forced us to reconsider how we work, interact with each other, and conduct all facets of our lives. Once the virus is contained, many of our former routines likely will return to what they were before we abruptly shut down last March. We’ll dine at crowded restaurants, attend concerts, and gather with friends and families to celebrate holidays and birthdays.

But I believe it’s important that in at least one crucial area, our children’s education, we think long and hard about what role we want and need our schools to play. What have we learned from the disruption, trauma, and fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants existence COVID-19 has forced upon educators, parents and our children? What matters most and what have we learned about how to prepare our children for their future?

Toward this goal, the Taconic & Green Regional School Board invites you — no, beseeches you — to participate in this discussion. Over the next few weeks, T&G will begin reaching out to the community, asking the fundamental question, “What is the purpose of school in today’s world?” We welcome responses from all manner of local stakeholders: parents, current and former students, educators, senior citizens, local leaders, and all residents of our nine T&G towns: Danby, Dorset, Landgrove, Londonderry, Manchester, Mt. Tabor, Peru, Sunderland and Weston.

This isn’t a test. There are no right or wrong answers. Rather, we want to engage with you, to hear your ideas and thoughts. We want you to challenge the T&G Board to think strategically and responsibly about how we prepare our children for post-secondary opportunities and on to life in a rapidly changing world.

Out of respect for the State of Vermont’s coronavirus guidelines to minimize social contact, T&G will maximize the use of digital media to allow you to safely participate in this process. We will work with our schools and various local organizations to email an electronic link to our poll. It will be posted and shared on social media. Or, you can always find the T&G Public Engagement survey link at the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union website, BRSU.org. Anyone without access to the internet can mail the response to the question, What is the purpose of school in today’s world?, directly to the T&G Board, at 6378 VT Route 7A, Sunderland, VT 05250.

In addition to the survey, T&G will also reach out to various groups in our community and ask that the topic, “the purpose of school,” be placed on their agendas. Select boards, for example, may be able to allocate time during their zoom meetings for a more in-depth discussion on this question. This qualitative feedback can provide us with more helpful ideas and suggestions.

T&G will report back to you on our findings over the next few months. Public engagement will become a regular item on our monthly Board agenda. We will also work with local media to distribute results to the people of our communities.

Of course, the real return on this investment of your time, will be the development of clearly defined educational goals or an “Ends Policy” for our T&G Schools. With our objectives in place, firmly rooted in community expectations and values, we can move forward on building a sound and innovative educational platform that works for each and every one of our children.

Randi Lowe is the superintendent of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union.


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