Meet Vermont’s New Secretary of Education (Seven Days)

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Seven DaysCalling public education “the civil rights issue of our time,” Vermont’s new secretary of education, Rebecca Holcombe, says it’s time to move beyond the national narrative of school failure and focus on child poverty, Seven Days reports.

Holcombe, a lecturer and director of the Department of Education’s Teacher Education Program at Dartmouth, will begin her new job in Montpelier in January.

In an interview with Seven Days, Holcombe maintains that Vermont’s public school system isn’t failing. “The reality is, schools are actually doing better now than they’ve ever done,” she tells the newspaper.

“The real challenge is that we have growing child poverty,” she says. “We know that child poverty is associated with higher levels of special-education services, because if you’re not getting adequate nutrition in utero, you’re going to have problems later on in life. Poverty causes stress, and stress suppresses working memory. That impairs school performance. So it’s not that our schools aren’t doing well. It’s that we have these changing social dynamics, which are going to make it more difficult for children to learn.”

Read the full story, published 12/4/13 by Seven Days.