The sixth week of the 2020 session has passed, leaving lawmakers just two weeks before our annual Town Meeting Week break. The workload increases ahead of Town Meeting, and immediately after it, as the first deadlines of the session take effect. All House policy committees must pass bills by March 13th. Failure to do so makes it much less likely the measures will pass before we adjourn in May.

The Education Committee has continued its work to improve Vermont’s 2014 preK law (Act 166). We have looked at a number of issues, including agency oversight, requirements for licensed educators, and workforce needs. Because preK touches on both public, school-based preK centers, and private providers, our bill will need to be reviewed by the Human Services Committee prior to heading to the House for a vote. The Education Committee will likely vote out our bill next week. I will provide updates as things proceed.

The Committee’s focus on preK temporarily sidelined our conversations about literacy education. I expect this topic will be revisited next week as we put finishing touches on a package of reforms. Some have strongly advocated for regular screenings and early identification of dyslexia and other learning disorders. These same proponents have asked us to consider inclusion of a definition of “dyslexia” in law. The Education Committee’s deliberations have looked at these recommendations, as well as the feedback from education stakeholders. Ultimately, our goal will be to provide systems of support for school districts (SDs) and supervisor unions (SUs) so more of our educators have the knowledge and resources to help students with reading disorders find success.

This past week was very busy back home and at the State House. I’m grateful to those who attended last Monday night’s meeting with House Speaker Mitzi Johnson. We had a great conversation with the leader of the House. I also want to thank the organizers of the first Voices for Inclusion in Essex and Westford (VIEW) racial justice film showing. The meeting was well attended and led to a number of important conversations.

The Essex House delegation will be holding a community forum this weekend to discuss topics under consideration at the State House. Please join us at Sweet Alchemy Bakery (45 Upper Main Street) from 9:00 – 10:30am. I hope to see you there! If you can’t make it, please get in touch via email or phone. I can always be reached at dgiambatista@leg.state.vt.us or (802) 734-8841.

Rep. Dylan Giambatista