Education Matters

by Mary Barrosse Schwartz, Executive Director
VBR Research and Education Foundation

Since its inception, the Roundtable has maintained that a core component of Vermont’s economic well-being is a well-educated citizenry. Given its goal to, make Vermont the best place in America to do business, be educated, and live life, the Roundtable asks its members to engage in removing barriers to success for Vermont’s students.

Over the last few years, the Roundtable’s Education Task Force has met to study and discuss education reform, including policies promoted by business groups from other New England states. The effort lead to the 2014 Green Mountain Imperative Summit, which sought to broaden support for better policy, while continuing to make the urgent case for change.

The Roundtable focuses on building a strong workforce because its members believe that Vermont’s potential for economic growth relies heavily on how we confront a looming workforce skills gap. According to recent VBR member surveys, creating more good jobs is of the highest priority, and making the most of taxpayers’ investment in public education to ensure achievement of all students will help to build the human capital qualified to do the work of the future. At the same time, a focus on achievement beyond pre-k to grade 12 is necessary, since Vermonters who continued their education beyond high school express much higher levels of job satisfaction than do those with less education, earn more, and are healthier.

In the coming months, the VBR Education Task Force and the Green Mountain Imperative coalition will continue to examine and shape policy to eliminate barriers to student success. Finance, governance and accountability, and improved approaches to education such as student centered learning, will be among the policy areas.

Through advocacy for strong public policy and continued speaking out in support of education reform, Roundtable members will help to ensure student achievement and efficient use of taxpayer resources. By working with a broad coalition of leaders across the state and in local communities, successful passage of meaningful reform is possible.