Arrests, Petitions in Local Fights for Public Education

Negotiations between the Northampton teachers and the school board are heating up. The teachers belong to a union Mayor Clare Higgins asked the workers to forgo previously negotiated pay raises for next year.

On June 16, voters in Northampton will decide on the so-called “Proposition 2½ override,” which will affect the city’s budget.

The National Priorities Project is a nation-wide non-profit based in Northampton. According to the group’s web site, the Iraq war had cost American taxpayers $790 billion as of October 2008.

Meanwhile, in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, near Brattleboro, on June 10 the school board considered a proposal to eliminate music in the Hinsdale schools. Supporters of music filled the meeting room to express their objections to the school district’s recommendation to send Hinsdale music students to the Brattleboro high school for music.

The school board recently voted to eliminate a music teacher’s job.

Camron Kennedy, a junior at the Hinsdale high school, said students were told on June 4 they would need to sign up for music courses at Brattleboro high school, according to the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper.

In April, more than two dozen people attended a board meeting to protest cuts to music.

One parent presented school officials with a petition signed by 126 adult residents and 146 students supporting the music program.

And in Vermont on May 15, seven University of Vermont students who were arrested at a campus protest in April were sentenced to 15 hours of community service.

Another 25 students pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges resulting from an April 22 sit-in to protest staffing and spending reductions at the university. In addition to community service, the students who pled guilty were placed on “administrative probation.” The students who pled not guilty are waiting to find out when they will face a judge and jury.

Finally, in Keene, on May 19 teachers attended a public meeting to call for Spanish to be taught at the city’s elementary schools.

Latinos – many of whom are Spanish speaking -- are now the nation’s largest racial minority.

Students who learn a second language during their elementary school years do better on literacy tests in English, and have improved cognitive skills, listening skills, creativity and memory, the teachers at the meeting said, citing studies on the issue, according to the Keene Sentinel newspaper.

Neil Donegan, chairman of the school board’s finance committee, said taxpayers can’t afford the plan.

Joan Hill teaches Spanish and French at Keene middle school. She led the teachers who made the proposal. Her presentation detailed nearly three years of work and research into the topic.

About $1.5 million in state aid is slated to be cut from Keene’s budget in the 2010-11 school year.


Hinsdale to Brattleboro

Is there a commensurate increase in funding for the Brattleboro schools' music programs from Hinsdale/NH, or will this simply be NH students utilizing the state and city funding of VT to fill gaps in the educational system that NH is unwilling to pay for?

Darren Lone Fight
Amherst, Mass.

I don't know. Sorry!

I don't know. Sorry!

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