My Education on Vermont’s Educational System
Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 12:05PM
Janet McLaughlin, Special Projects Director, VCF

The last six months have been an education for me.

What I learned made me excited for the educational system that my two little boys are heading into here in Vermont – and convinced of the need for continued focus on practical and equitable solutions to our state’s continuing educational challenges.

As a new member of the team of family, board members, and staff that make up the J. Warren and Lois McClure Foundation, I was excited to visit grant-funded projects and witness:

My sense is that school will truly look and feel completely different by the time my preschoolers are in middle and high school. Instead of a straight academic path, students will move freely between academic courses, vocational or technical classes, and community-based learning opportunities. Educational experiences will be connected to wide variety of explicitly discussed career paths, and all will be valued as ways to build both the hard and soft skills necessary to be a part of Vermont’s community.

At the same time, I was saddened by the opportunity gap that exists in Vermont and will persist without increased investment in schools, programs, and colleges serving families of modest means.  As laid out in two recent reports from the Vermont PreK-16 Council, here in Vermont:

Despite these sobering statistics, what I’ve learned makes me hopeful. Vermont stakeholders – teachers, superintendents, legislators, state agency leaders, college presidents, leaders of both nonprofit and for-profit organizations – are dedicated to leveling the playing field here.  And philanthropists like the McClure Foundation are targeting funding towards enhancing Vermont institutions’ ability to serve those who most need support to complete postsecondary education and training.  We’ve witnessed how much our grantee organizations can accomplish by focusing on practical programs that help set all kids on a path for a promising future. And that makes me optimistic for my two little boys and the rest of “our kids” here in Vermont.

PS: The McClure Foundation is looking forward to funding even more excellent work. Funding guidelines for the 2016/2017 school year are online now, with Letters of Interest due February 9th

Article originally appeared on mcclurevt (
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