Opinion: Policies fail ANeSU boards

It has never been a secret that I have always believed that the school boards in the Addison Northeast Supervisory Union were shirking their duties. It has gotten terribly worse with the crippling effects resulting from the adoption of the Vermont Superintendents Association version of policy governance.
Just so there is no misunderstanding about where these policies came from, they were developed in the bowels of the joint offices of the VSA and the Vermont School Boards Association, 2 Prospect St., Montpelier. They were promoted, sold and implemented through the mighty efforts of Val Gardner, a school administrator herself. There should be no doubt whatsoever about who gains the most from these ridiculous policies.
One of the reasons I resigned from the Mount Abe school board was because of the frustration I felt over my inability to effect any change in the status quo. Every time the boards are faced with a problem they throw up their hands and say that they can’t address the issue because of policy governance. I am particularly bothered by the fact that public input at board meetings is severely restricted in direct violation of the state open meeting laws. Such a stupid policy leaves the boards completely ignorant of the public’s concerns and interest.
In fairness to the boards, they cannot fix a problem that they know nothing about. I have no idea what their motivation may have been, but judging by the timing, perhaps to gain an advantage in the current contract negations, but it was totally wrong of the Addison Northeast Education Association (ANEA) to blindside the board at their annual meeting on March 24.
Common courtesy demands that you give someone an opportunity to fix a problem before you publicly embarrass them. Such an act by the union is unfair, unethical and unprofessional. Minor issues should be resolved quickly and not allowed to fester into a gaping and bleeding wound such as the union says we now have. If I were a dues-paying member of that union I would ask my steward why my grievance wasn’t addressed in a more timely and civil manner rather then set aside to be used as a bargaining chip later on.
I hope that the boards will roll up their sleeves and fix their completely useless governance policies and that the ANEA will meet them at least partway in an effort to provide our children with a good education.
The students deserve better than what they are currently getting from these two dysfunctional parties.
Dick Merrill

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