The Vermont Principals Association
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VSBA; VSA; VPA Statement on Critical Race Theory

The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) share the common belief that every student in Vermont should be afforded the opportunity to learn in an environment that supports their academic success, holds them to high academic standards, and challenges them to engage as a productive member of the diverse society within which we live.

Nationwide, the term Critical Race Theory (CRT) has made its way into discussions about public education. CRT, a legal and academic framework originating in the 1970’s, is not explicitly taught in Vermont public schools. Unfortunately, the spread of misinformation has only served to divide and polarize our communities as evidenced by intensifying actions seen at school board meetings and felt in classrooms. To assist VSBA, VSA, and VPA members in future conversations with their stakeholders, we are including a Q&A document to address some of the most commonly asked questions related to CRT.

In Vermont, there are many long-standing efforts to increase opportunities for each and every student to be successful and to close persistent opportunity gaps. These efforts are often referred to as equity initiatives. For example, school systems might examine a policy, practice, or procedure to determine if it is serving all students well, particularly if it disproportionately impacts one group of students more than another. At its core, creating more equitable school systems is about making sure that each and every student has the access and opportunity to succeed.

We, as education leaders, support Vermont schools in meeting their obligation to teach global citizenship, social studies, and history with the candor and historical accuracy that all Vermont students deserve. Studying and developing a clear understanding of historical contexts, successes, and failures helps us all to progress as individuals, as a community, and as a collective society. This work includes exploring our history with a knowledge of the current status of race, equity, diversity, and inclusion in our communities, in Vermont, in our nation, and in our world.

Recent efforts to upset the delivery of public education should not jeopardize the longstanding commitment to close persistent opportunity gaps in Vermont schools. We must continue to create more welcoming, equitable, and inclusive school communities, while remaining steadfast in our advocacy for equity-focused initiatives on behalf of each and every student in Vermont.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Critical Race Theory (CRT) and what is it not?

CRT originated in the 1970s as a legal and academic framework developed to examine the ways in which racism and bias are embedded in societal structures and ultimately contribute to unequal opportunities and outcomes. Further, CRT recognizes that race is a socially constructed idea rather than a biological reality.

CRT is not synonymous with everything related to race and racism and it is not a catchall term for diversity, equity, and inclusion in education. There is nothing in CRT that is centered on blaming any individual or class of persons or promoting one race as superior to another. It is very likely that CRT might never have been mentioned in your community but for the recent politicization of the term and practice.

Does the VSBA, VSA, or VPA have a definition of equity?

Yes. The VSBA and VSA have a shared definition of educational equity, which has been endorsed by VPA. The definition can be found here: VSBA and VSA’s Shared Definition of Educational Equity

What does Vermont law require through Education Quality Standards with regard to curriculum?

Vermont’s Education Quality Standards (or Vermont State Law) require(s) that each supervisory union deliver a curriculum that aligns with standards approved by the State Board of Education. Specifically, Education Quality Standard 2120.5 states that “each school shall enable students to engage annually in rigorous, relevant and comprehensive learning opportunities that allows them to demonstrate global citizenship (including the concepts of civics, economics, geography, world language, cultural studies and history)”. Social Studies and World Languages are content areas within Global Citizenship.”

According to the Vermont Agency of Education website, “. . . in 2017, the Vermont State Board of Education adopted the College, Career and Civic Life, C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards (C3) to guide the teaching of civics, economics, geography, and history within Vermont. The Agency of Education has provided social studies proficiency-based graduation requirements, which were developed from the C3 standards and developed by Vermont educators, to serve as a sample. These graduation proficiencies are examples of a rigorous proficiency-based graduation framework that meets Education Quality Standards.“

Relevant Exemplar Standards:

● D2.Civ.5. Evaluate citizens’ and institutions’ effectiveness in addressing social and political problems at the local, state, tribal, national, and/or international level.

● D2.Civ.10. Analyze the impact and the appropriate roles of personal interests and perspectives on the application of civic virtues, democratic principles, constitutional rights, and human rights.

● D2.Geo.2. Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions and their political, cultural, and economic dynamics.

● D2.Geo.5. Evaluate how political and economic decisions throughout time have influenced cultural and environmental characteristics of various places and regions.

● D2.Geo.8. Evaluate the impact of economic activities and political decisions on spatial patterns within and among urban, suburban, and rural regions.

● D2.His.5. Analyze how historical contexts shaped and continue to shape people’s perspectives.

● D2.His.7. Explain how the perspectives of people in the present shape interpretations of the past.

Additionally, the Education Quality Standards require, “Each school shall enable students to engage annually in rigorous, relevant and comprehensive learning opportunities that allows them to demonstrate proficiency in transferable skills (including communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, inquiry, problem solving and the use of technology) . . . ‘Transferable skills’ refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed to be critically important to success in today’s world, particularly in collegiate programs and modern careers.” (2120.5. Curriculum Content.)

Relevant Exemplar Transferable Skills:

Global Citizenship:

Students recognize that the world is increasingly complex and interdependent.

  • Ask probing questions that encourage inquiry around relevant issues.
  • Explain how choices and actions impact themselves and others.
  • Learn from and work collaboratively with others in a spirit of mutual respect.
  • Examine local and world issues using tools, data, and cultural information to propose balanced or unbiased solutions to issues.

Students understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities within a democratic society.

  • Explain their own point of view on current issues.
  • Contribute to the enhancement of community life.
  • Respect diversity and seek to understand different perspectives.
  • Communicate in ways that foster a respectful exchange of ideas and support conflict resolution.

Announcement of Collaborative Equity Grant

The Vermont School Boards Association (VSBA), the Vermont Superintendents Association (VSA), and the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) are pleased to announce that they have received a grant award of $150,000 from the Vermont Community Foundation and Barr Foundation. The grant will support work by the Associations to address antiracism and promote equity and inclusion in communities statewide and is part of the Vermont Community Foundation’s Welcoming, Equitable and Antiracist Communities Recovery Initiative. Specifically, this work will focus on efforts to improve equitable practices and outcomes for all Vermont students.

Supporting Equity in Budgets, Public Memo Issued to Members

Dear VPA Members,

On June 2, 2020, the Vermont School Boards Association, the Vermont Superintendents Association and the Vermont Principals’ Association issued a statement condemning racism and promoting proactive measures to achieve educational equity and eliminate implicit and overt biases. 

In the spirit of those efforts and with an awareness that school districts are currently well-engaged in developing proposed budgets for FY2022, we are reminding districts of the opportunity to follow through and follow up on equity and anti-racism work by using the budget development process to commit resources to those initiatives for FY2022.

VSBA, VSA and VPA are committed to the ongoing efforts referenced above and it is for that reason we are reaching out to local school officials with a recognition that an operating budget can be a powerful tool in messaging and providing resources in support of district priorities.

Thank you for all that you do on behalf of the students and your school communities.

VSA, VSBA, VCSEA, VPA Joint Statement of Support for Outright Vermont

To: President Pro Tem Ashe, Speaker Johnson, Senator Baruth, and Representative Webb

Re: Support for Outright Vermont

On August 26, 2020, Secretary of Education Dan French and Chief Financial Officer of the Agency of Education, Bill Bates, presented the AOE’s proposed FY2021 budget to the Vermont House Committee on Education. In that budget, the AOE proposed a $40,000 cut to Outright Vermont. Our associations strongly recommend that the General Assembly reject the proposed reduction.

In testimony on August 28, 2020 to the Vermont House Committee on Education, Outright Vermont Executive Director Dana Kaplan asked this: “Please recommend full restoration of the $60,000 legislative appropriation to Outright Vermont so that LGBT youth have a chance to live. Make no mistake about it, the stakes are that high.”

Our Associations wholeheartedly support Outright Vermont in this request. Outright Vermont provides crucial support to LGBTQ+ youth, their families, teachers and school districts. To the best of our knowledge, Outright Vermont is the only organization of its kind in Vermont and cutting funding would have a tremendous impact on LGBTQ+ students, especially in this unprecedented time of instability. We urge you to find savings elsewhere.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sue Ceglowski, Executive Director, Vermont School Boards Association
Jeff Francis, Executive Director, Vermont Superintendents Association
Jay Nichols, Executive Director, Vermont Principals’ Association
Traci Sawyers, Executive Director, Vermont Council of Special Education Administrators

Episode Seven: With Jeff Renard of VTVLC

(May 14, 2020) Mike spoke with Jeff Renard of VTVLC. VTVLC is offering the Online Teaching Best Practices course to help teachers prepare for next year. This standards-based, 10-hour online course is facilitated by an experienced online teacher in cohorts up to 14 educators over a 3-week period. Start dates are flexible up to June 15th. Administrators can pre-register their cohorts here. Schools are also able to choose from a long list of supports, including Canvas and online content with over 140 course titles so teachers do not have to develop and curate over the summer. Full list of titles can be found here. Additional questions can be directed to  Director/Principal at

Episode Six: With David Bennett

Mike spoke with David Bennett. David has been working in the field of education and student support for the past 14 years.  He has a bachelor’s degree in Biological Science and secondary education and a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work.  He has spent the majority of his professional career working to develop a comprehensive understanding of the issues that impact youth ability to connect with their education and live empowered lives.  He believes that public schools are one of the most integral components to help make this happen.  He has worked to develop multiple programs of study that combine social and emotional learning and building student self efficacy to academic curriculum.  He currently works in private practice as a therapist and experiential educator in Central Vermont.

Episode Five: With VPA Executive Director, Jay Nichols

Mike interviewed VPA Executive Director, Jay Nichols, on the morning of April 10th, 2020. They talked about the latest from state leadership on COVID-19, the worries, the pride for VT educators, nitty gritty of attendance policy with distant learning, access to internet, educational funding, and more. Please excuse some paper shuffling and less than perfect sound quality. Hopefully the expediency of the content makes up for it.

Episode Four: With Mara Iverson, Director of Education at Outright Vermont

Our first ever remote podcast! With social distancing enacted, we connected with Mara Iverson, Director of Education at Outright Vermont to talk through school leadership, student voice, and how we can best serve LGBTQ+ youth through school closure and beyond. Here is the guidance that Mara references regarding recommendations for schools in conjunction with the VT-AOE.