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The first and second years of Vermont’s legislative biennium look and feel very different. It’s similar to a basketball game, where you have two halves and four quarters. We’re currently in the second half, and the ball is still in play for a number of bills. If you don’t move a bill up the court quickly enough, you miss your chance to take a shot.

The end of January means we’re nearing the crunchtime of February. Each year, the legislature pauses for a weeklong break for Town Meeting Day. Major bills that have yet to pass the chamber they were introduced in must move by mid-March to have a shot at passage. Failure to do so generally means the bill will need to be reintroduced in January 2021, when a new legislative biennium begins.

In the House Education Committee, we continued our deep dive into literacy education. The Committee held a public hearing on literacy education in which many parents from the Essex community shared their stories advocating for services for their child who experience dyslexia. The next day, EWSD’s Beth Cobb and Jackie Tolman testified on local literacy education efforts, including new initiatives to promote balanced literacy. I appreciated the update from Superintendent Cobb, and the emphasis and investments the EWSD Board is weighing to reach the goal of ensuring all kids are proficient readers and writers by the end of the 3rd grade. We will weigh the input of our families, administrators, and educators as this conversation continues.

We also took more testimony on a proposal to improve our preK delivery system. The current law, Act 166, first passed in 2014. Since that time, the law has been implemented by the Agency of Education and Agency of Human Services. These organizations oversee their respective parts of the PreK continuum — public education centers and private providers. The joint administration has caused challenges, where conflicting or overlapping regulation has led to confusion in the field. We are working on a bill that proposes to bifurcate parts of the system in an effort to eliminate redundant and problematic regulations. Our hope is the final bill will better orient the Agencies so our public and private childcare providers can focus on educating and caring for our kids.

Our next community conversation meeting will be held from 9:00-10:30am on February 15. Come join us at Sweet Alchemy for a discussion on this issues.