School districts in the state of Vermont range from small (4,000 students in the district) to smaller (15 students in the most rural of schools), but one thing that looms large in each community is its schools.
"These schools are really at the heart of their communities," says the state's Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe, Ed.M.'04, Ed.D.'16. "These are not just schools that educate people, they are really community centers. And our communities are deeply invested in their health and well-being."
For Holcombe, witnessing this pride makes leading education policy in the state a privilege and deepens her commitment to listen to the needs of the districts when making decisions and setting policies. Vermont is fortunate, she says, to have been able to experiment with different ways of doing things, and set ambitious goals for its districts and its students.
"We set the goals at the state level," says Holcombe. "We provide the resources and support — it's a very progressive funding formula — but what we really do count on is close partnerships and strong local activity to figure out how to put all those pieces together."
In this edition of the Harvard EdCast, Holcombe speaks on the priorities of Vermont's unique education system and the progress that has been made.
The Harvard EdCast is a weekly series of podcasts, available on the Harvard University iTunes U page, that features a 15-20 minute conversation with thought leaders in the field of education from across the country and around the world. Hosted by Matt Weber and co-produced by Jill Anderson, the Harvard EdCast is a space for educational discourse and openness, focusing on the myriad issues and current events related to the field.