Fairfield, St. Albans City, and St. Albans Town will soon decide who they want representing them on the Maple Run school board.  The district’s mission statement is “where inquiring minds, compassionate hearts, creative expression, healthy lives and service to the community develop so all can learn, achieve and succeed”.  And the district’s expression of core values concludes with a commitment “to provide equity in access to a quality education”.

Here’s the thing about equity: as elected officials, voters, and Vermonters we are either continuously working towards it, or we are actively working against it.  There is no middle ground.

School board candidates Reier Erickson and Dr. Jennifer Williamson understand the full responsibility of the office.  They understand the power school board members have in either actively working to make the lives of all students better, or in stalling this critically needed progress under the guise of a celebrated status quo.

Their skillsets, backgrounds, and hopeful visions for how we might best support students, educators, and staff during these unprecedented times is what this moment demands of those who chose to run for office.

As a former arts teacher, Reier has the heart of an educator and the soul of an artist.  As a naturopathic physician, Jen has a unique ability to understand systems approaches to positive change.  Both will bring their compassion and empathy as parents, and their courageous voices as concerned community members willing to roll up their sleeves and work towards a better vision for the future.

Together on the board, they will advocate for policy that is data-driven with an eye towards unintended consequences.  They will create genuine space to have all voices at the table—not in a way that is performative, but rather in a way that is genuine and seeks to listen and understand.

I’ve heard it said that people who weren’t born and raised here and who don’t have roots that go back generations are not “real Vermonters”.  This is ludicrous nonsense.  Being a “real Vermonter” is not a virtue of birthright; it is a matter of who is willing to hear a parent or a student saying they are afraid or that change is needed.  And responding to that pain with an invitation to work together instead of the message—as one candidate gave—that those who don’t like it here should leave.

Two other school board candidates describe themselves as “pro-police” and have noted that they see that as a qualification for elected office.   While that would make sense for fraternal or police booster organization membership, it simply does not for this race.  First and foremost, school board members should be pro-student.  Pro-educator.  Pro-community.

And that’s what Dr. Jennifer Williamson and Reier Erickson will bring to the table if elected—a steadfast commitment to the mission of Maple Run School Board.

With your ballot, you have the choice to vote for equity and the needs of all students, or to vote against that: there is no middle ground here.

Kate Larose

St. Albans

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