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Mr. Cate, You're Not Welcome

Susan Notes: It's good to see a paper coming out so strongly for local folk--teachers and schoolboard--frying their own fish and telling the politically appointed commissioner to butt out.

It's also commendable that the board stuck with a very difficult situation and didn't call on hired guns.

Last week, Education Commissioner Richard Cate did some growling that ruffled more than feathers in Colchester, where a teacher strike has idled schools for two weeks. Cate growled that the teachers and board had better settle it soon or he would. He got a response from Renn Niquette, chair of the Colchester board, that he didn't expect. She told him to get out of Colchester's affairs, that the strike and the negotiations were none of his business, and that he didn't have a solution, anyway. She was right. Cate isn't any part of the dispute and ought to keep his nose out of it.

This is the second time in recent weeks that Cate has butted in where he is not wanted or appreciated. A couple of weeks ago, he tried muscling the St. Johnsbury School Board, ordering it to stop looking for an interim superintendent and haughtily informing the board that he would soon decide whether or not St. Johnsbury should be required to become part of a union school district. When local reaction was universally negative to his bullying, he wrote an op-ed piece that amounted to damage control, backing and filling from his original belligerence.

Cate is education commissioner of Vermont, not the chair or even a member of any local school board. He is a political appointee; they are the elected representatives of the people who are their neighbors. Cate should stick to Montpelier. He is not welcome to interfere in clear local control of education issues.

— Editorial


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