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Color Bind

Katherine Flagg wrote a pretty good synopsis of the race-related issues facing the Burlington School District for today’s Seven Days titled:

“Color Bind Everyone agrees the Burlington School District has a race problem. Now what?”

The title is a little weird, but the piece is good. Katherine Flagg interviewed me at the OP last week for my contributions to the article. Nice work Katie! Click the text-link or the image to go to the story at Seven Days.

I may as well say now that I will vote to extend Jeanne’s contract on June 12, although I don’t know what the board will decide collectively. I think she’s doing well enough not to deserve to get fired. That isn’t to say the schools aren’t grappling with issues of racism, cultural insensitivity, achievement gaps, harassment of all types, bullying, ignorance and everything else. Of course we are. Issues like these are more pronounced as an environment becomes more heterogeneous, and Burlington schools are arguably the most heterogeneously popluated societal microcosms in Vermont - The Schools are responsible for the safety and the education of all children so we can’t tolerate any of this type of baloney. 

The fundamental philosophical element of human rights, most religions and the American Way is equality.  Equality.  The board has recently passed a tough new anti-harassment policy the prohibits attacks for all manor of protected characteristics.  Jeanne has been getting cultural training to the staff.  We will be doing a new bullying policy soon.  I would like to hear that Amy Mellencamp is integrating the ‘English Language Learners’ more both physically and educationally at BHS so the kids can all get to know each other better… but I don’t see how firing Jeanne is going to get me that.  We did create a standing board committee on diversity and equity too. 

The arc of the moral universe doesn’t bend itself toward justice.  We have to bend it with persistence and hard work.  Simply getting rid of Jeanne won’t solve these problems at all in my opinion.


1 Frederick Lane { 06.07.12 at 8:19 am }

Nice post, Haik. Nice conclusion. Hope the meeting doesn’t go too late next week.

2 Haik Bedrosian { 06.07.12 at 6:57 pm }

Thanks Fred. We will see…

3 George Cross { 06.07.12 at 10:21 pm }


You are correct there are more risks, many more, than benefits in releasing Jeanne Collins. Jeanne has worked hard for the students in Burlington for many years. She needs the community’s assistance to move the district to the next level. It must be remembered that there are only two districts in Vermont with truly diverse student populations, Burlington and Winooski. The issues in these two districts are different from all other districts. Both districts need to work together as they are doing on the Nellie Mae project. They also need the help and cooperation of the state which unfortunately has little expertise to offer. There is no Burlington problem, there is a Vermont problem. It takes a state to to acknowledge that its face is changing and those changes come with struggles. Working together all students will be best served.

4 Haik Bedrosian { 06.08.12 at 12:44 am }

Thanks George.

5 George Cross { 06.08.12 at 12:55 pm }

Another question – has there been any discussion abput the ramifications related to the Nellie Mae grant?

6 Haik Bedrosian { 06.08.12 at 1:17 pm }

Good question George. I have not heard any such discussion personally, but others may have mulled it over- I don’t know.