How do you feel about your child’s education? Vermont state officials want to know.

The Vermont Agency of Education is creating a Family Engagement Council, a group of roughly a dozen parents and guardians that will advise Vermont Agency of Education Secretary Dan French. File photo by Mike Dougherty/VTDigger

If you have a child in a Vermont school, state education officials want to hear from you. 

Vermont’s Agency of Education is convening a standing body of parents and guardians to advise officials on school matters, officials announced this month. Applications are accepted through this weekend.

The group, called the Family Engagement Council, will advise Vermont Secretary of Education Dan French on state policy and “topics of interest to parents in Vermont,” according to a Dec. 2 press release.

“We have partners representing almost every other group in education,” French said in the press release. “From superintendents and school board members, to educators, school counselors and facilities managers, we have groups organized to provide a voice for their members at the state and local level. There is no organization providing a similar voice for parents.”

Several other states have established similar parent or family councils. Vermont’s announcement also comes roughly six months after the federal Department of Education announced the creation of the National Parents and Families Engagement Council.

Vermont’s group will begin its work by focusing on education quality and equity, according to the agency. Members will discuss the definition of a high-quality education, and how to make it accessible for all Vermont students.

French will appoint about 10 to 15 parents or guardians to two-year terms on the council. The application is open to parents of homeschooled children as well.

“To the extent possible, the membership of the council will represent the State’s geographic, gender, socio-economic, racial and ethnic diversity,” the agency said in its press release.  

As of Friday, according to spokesperson Ted Fisher, officials have received 290 applications. The deadline to apply is Sunday, Dec. 18. Officials expect the group to begin meeting in January.
“The current moment is very challenging, with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on education keenly felt by students and families,” Fisher said in an email. “Vermont parents, guardians and family members have an important perspective to share as we improve the quality and equity of Vermont’s education system.”

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