Tag Archives: Maslow’s Hierarchy

Sue Minter and the “poorly educated” vote

On the same day that Matt Dunne scored a political trifecta — netting the endorsements of two major unions plus seven members of Burlington City Council — fellow gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter launched a bold initiative that strikes me as great policy and sound politics.

Sue Minter, a Democratic candidate for governor, says her initiative, “Vermont Promise,” would give Vermont high school students the opportunity to attend the Community College of Vermont or Vermont Technical College for free for the first two years. After that, students would be able to continue their schooling for half the current cost of tuition.

Minter unveiled the program on Tuesday, California primary day, and suffered the same undercoverage that befell Dunne’s endorsement news.

Vermont Promise strikes at the heart of a fundamental inequity of living in Vermont: the high cost of college. It’s a strong, clear idea, as opposed to the higher-education incrementalism of the Shumlin years. It would provide a huge boost to working-class Vermont students who’ve had trouble reaching the next rung on the ladder — and to employers who’ve been desperate for trained, or trainable, workers.

Minter pointed out that Vermont has one of the nation’s highest rates of high school graduation, but one of the lowest rates in continuing on to post-secondary education. This is a break point in our education system, a roadblock to success for young people, and a damper on our economy.

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But why, VPR?

Vermont Public Radio is the most richly endowed media operation in the state. It sits securely atop the nonprofit world as well, and many nonprofits privately bemoan VPR’s ability to suck all the oxygen out of the room.

It does a lot of good stuff. But once again, it has taken a step that makes me question its civic-mindedness. We think of VPR as a news organization; but when you look at how it spends its time and resources, you have to conclude that what it really is, is a lifestyle brand for comfortable white folks. VPR has three primary functions, in this order:

1. Outlet for NPR and other network programming. Carriage fees eat up a large percentage of VPR’s budget.

2. Producer of infotainment programming aimed at those near the top of Maslow’s Hierarchy.

3. News organization.

The latest emission from Your Favorite Lifestyle Brand is a podcast entitled “But Why?” It’s a platform for children to submit questions about anything and everything, and provide engaging and easily digestible answers.

This follows VPR’s other recent infotainment initiatives:

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