Letter Box


Celebrate children

Editor of the Reformer:

This April during the celebration of Month of the Young Child the committee that coordinates these events for Southern Vermont has added a new element -- the purple ribbon. The ribbon is a simple statement of support for young children and their families. The goal of MOYC, besides providing more activities and avenues to celebrate young children, is also to raise awareness about the importance of the early childhood years.

Originally conceived by a MOYC program in Michigan, the committee in Windham County adopted this similar idea of wearing a ribbon in the community to have a more visible symbol of support throughout the month. As quoted from the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children’s website, "Displaying a purple ribbon shows you care about young children and are aware of their needs." In Brattleboro, this ribbon will be given out at different events throughout the month, including the Early Childhood Fair on April 26 and at participating banks and libraries throughout county.

These ribbons are meant for teachers, moms and dads, grandparents, aunts and uncles, doctors, caregivers, librarians, social workers, construction workers, and supporters of early childhood education and all of the developmental steps that go with it. Please, take one and feel free to display the ribbon anywhere visible to continue to draw attention to the need for quality early childhood care for all children. With this increased visibility, the needs of young children can be brought to the forefront, a place they surely deserve.

In an effort to support families and children, MOYC, sponsored by the Building Bright Futures Council of Southeastern Vermont, Windham Child Care Association, and the Brattleboro Area Early Childhood Educators’ Network, will also continue to provide a wide range of free activities for young children and their families throughout the month. This year brings: half off passes to Cheshire Children’s Museum, shadow puppet shows by Vermont PuppeTree, musical performances, open art explorations, dance parties, hay-rides, tea times, and much more. Many of these activities are sponsored by local organizations including: Brooks Memorial Library, Brattleboro Food Co-op, Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center, Neighborhood Schoolhouse, New England Center for Circus Arts, Hilltop Montessori School, KidsPLAYce, Brattleboro Recreation and Parks and more.

Join us this April. Bring your children or your grandchildren to free events to celebrate these children being wonderful. Grab a purple ribbon to further show your support to the community. Raise awareness about the importance of providing healthy environments for children during their most formative years. This April, let’s support the young children and their families in this community -- dress-up, with purple ribbons.

Paige Martin,

Winston Prouty Center for Child Development, Brattleboro, April 1

Please help
us learn

Editor of the Reformer:

We need your help. We are the Anselmo-Merna fourth-grade class. The kids in our class are 9 or 10 years old. Our home is in Custer County, which is in rural central Nebraska. The school has students from two towns and the surrounding farming and ranching area. Our school has about 180 students in grades Pre-K through 12 and 21 in fourth grade.

The fourth graders want to learn about what life is like in other states and areas of the country. We are doing a project with our third-grade class called the States Fair. Each of us is researching a state and will be presenting our learning in May at our States Fair. Our teachers wanted to help us make researching more interesting by contacting chambers of commerce and newspapers in various states and asking readers for help.

We are hoping that you, the readers of local newspapers or leaders of chambers of commerce, can mail us artifacts from your state. Some examples of things you could send are brochures, pamphlets, pictures, non-perishable products unique to your area, leaves from native plants, small rocks or shells, or other small items. We are excited to learn about your area and it will mean more to us if you help us out by sending us a few items. We would like to have our items by May 1. Thank you for your help. We look forward to hearing from you. Send to: Anselmo-Merna Public Schools, Attn: Fourth Grade Class, 750 N. Conway St., Merna, NE 68856.

Fourth Grade Class,

Anselmo-Merna Public Schools, April 7

Time to take a step back

Editor of the Reformer:

It was not the first time in my 10 years as a Vermont citizen, educator, and taxpayer that I was left baffled by the Agency of Education. At the March 25 State Board of Education meeting, Deborah Quackenbush (Director of General Supervision & Monitoring) shared that the agency may no longer be confident that an accepted third-party accreditation is enough to justify state approval of K-12 independent schools. It may just not be robust enough. Her solution? It’s not to reaffirm the quality of those third-party organizations, but rather insists that the agency can do it better.

Now if Ms. Quackenbush insisted that Harvard University needed to be approved by the state because their own accreditation was not good enough, most folks would laugh, offer her some water and lead her to a chair, or both. But no ... the AOE can do it better.

From its website we can read about one of these third-party accreditors: "Founded in 1885, the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. is the nation’s oldest regional accrediting association whose mission is the establishment and maintenance of high standards for all levels of education, from pre-K to the doctoral level. NEASC serves more than 2,000 public and independent schools, colleges and universities in the six states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, and American/international schools in more than 67 nations worldwide."

Despite their history, integrity, accomplishment and quality, NEASC -- the same accrediting body of Harvard and MIT, as well as our own UVM, Middlebury, and more -- seems to no longer be good enough for Vermont’s K-12 independent schools. Ms. Quackenbush believes that they can do it better.

If this isn’t troubling enough, what was once a no-cost-to-the-taxpayer endeavor (yes, NEASC is funded by the member schools or private donations as a not-for-profit, not taxpayers dollars), required approval by the AOE will now create more agency work, more people hours and, ultimately, more bureaucracy. And, of course, greater expense of public dollars. But, they can do it better.

I hope that the agency stops and evaluates this nonsense before moving too far down the road. I fully support having high standards of all third-party accrediting agencies for Vermont schools, and I applaud a cyclical review of those agencies. Some may indeed not be good enough. But the answer is not refusing or accepting all accreditations for Vermont schools. NEASC is respected for its accreditation of some of the world’s most renowned and regarded schools and universities in the world. Don’t you think they actually may be able to do it better?

Daren Houck,

Head of School, The Mountain School at Winhall, April

A solution to our pothole dilemma?

Editor of the Reformer:

Brattleboro, we’re not alone with our potholes problem. Maybe we can learn from the townspeople of Moca, Puerto Rico. They planted a banana tree in a pothole, showing the creativity and initiative needed to resolve public problems. Of course, we would plant maple trees.

Evangelina Holvino,

Brattleboro, April 15


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