The Equal Educational Opportunity Act, better known as Act 60, is 20 years old on Monday. On June 26, 1997, at an outdoor ceremony in Whiting, Gov. Howard Dean signed into law Vermont’s unique and groundbreaking education funding system.

As we face tensions over school consolidation and who should determine teachers’ health insurance benefits, it’s worth remembering what Vermont has already achieved in school funding.

Vermont has taken a huge step toward solving a problem that still plagues other states: educational disparities between kids born into wealthy communities and those in cities and towns with less wealth and fewer educational resources.

In case you missed it, the governor and the Legislature are in a showdown over the budget. Or unions. Or both, depending on whom you ask. But no matter how you see it, it’s the wrong fight.

Instead, the Legislature should be taking significant steps to make life more affordable for Vermonters. Fighting about $26 million in teachers’ health insurance savings, which will probably show up without the governor’s involvement, is not one of those significant steps.

Governor Scott says Vermont has an affordability problem. But it’s not state taxes that are causing the squeeze for low and moderate income Vermonters. It’s stagnant wages and rising costs for essentials.

After trending up for 14 months, the labor force—people working or actively seeking work—decreased slightly in April and more in May. The losses came from the ranks of the employed, leaving the workforce below its 2009 peak by nearly 15,000 workers.         Women: Stuck in a few fields  The share of women workers in any field has not changed much in a decade. Women comprise the minority in most sectors and are especially underrepresented in construction, utilities, and transportation. They make up the majority in many service-oriented jobs, such as health care and educational services, but tend to be more equally represented in other service fields, such as accommodation and food services and retail stores. Read more

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The latest:
Per-Pupil Education Spending and Tax Rates, Fiscal 2016

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