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Field Notes: Equity & State Climate Policy

September 5, 2019

For more than a decade, states and cities across the country have served a leadership role in advancing science-informed climate policy through city, state and multi-state efforts. The rapid pace by which state climate policy is emerging is evidenced by the number of new laws, directives and policies adopted in 2018 and the first half of 2019 alone. Currently, there is an active ongoing dialogue across the U.S. regarding the intersection of climate and equity objectives with efforts targeted at addressing needs of disadvantaged communities and consumers. This climate/equity intersection is due to several factors, including recognition by many cities and states that climate change is and will continue to have a disproportionate impact on certain populations and will exacerbate existing stressors faced by disadvantaged communities and consumers. Research indicates that a greater proportion of environmental burden exists in geographic areas with majority populations of people of color, low-income residents, and/or indigenous people. It is well known that certain households (including some that are low-income, African American, Latino, multi-family and rural) spend a larger portion on their income on home energy costs. States and stakeholders are realizing that a transition to a low-carbon future by mid-century will require significantly increased participation of disadvantaged communities and households in the benefits of climate and clean energy programs.

When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2017 Homicide Data

September 1, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice has found that women are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes committed by intimate partners than men, especially when a weapon is involved. Moreover, women are much more likely to be victimized at home than in any other place.This study provides a stark reminder that domestic violence and guns make a deadly combination. According to reports submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), firearms are rarely used to kill criminals or stop crimes. Instead, they are all too often used to inflict harm on the very people they were intended to protect.

Engaging Families, Empowering Children

July 30, 2019

As the country becomes more diverse, schools that successfully engage all families will transform learning and leadership. This executive summary captures "takeways" from partnerships forged by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF) to create environments where teachers, families and community members can effectively collaborate and share power.

Working Families’ Access to Early Childhood Education

September 5, 2018

New Hampshire's ocean coastline, though small relative to that of other states, is a place where people have lived, worked, and died for thousands of years. It is home to numerous important cultural heritage sites, and its identity is tied in tangible and intangible ways to centuries of marine-based ways of life. Tourism to the region's remnant historic heritage sites and cultural landscapes is a key factor in coastal New Hampshire's strong demographic, social, and economic growth. Rockingham and Strafford, the state's two coastal counties, accounted for $104.7 million, or well over a third (37.5 percent), of the state's meal and room tax revenue in fiscal year 2014.

A Deeper Dive into Racial Disparities in Policing in Vermont

March 26, 2018

In 2014, the Vermont legislature passed a bill requiring all Vermont law enforcement agencies to collect traffic stop data so as to make it possible to identify and track any racial disparities in policing. The first round of data became available in 2016, and "Driving While Black and Brown in Vermont" (Seguino and Brooks 2017), an analysis of that data wasreleased in January 2017.The report has generated wide-ranging conversations about the role of race in policing. Several Vermont law  enforcement agencies have responded by taking the initiative to invest in training to address potential implicit bias in policing and to improve the quality of their data. At the same time, there have been questions raised by some observers about the quality of the data and methodology used in the 2017 study, and a concern that the study does notaccount for the context of traffic stops that may justify the racial disparities found in the original report.In this brief, we address these questions and report results from a logistic regression analysis that accounts for other factors beyond race that may influence the probability of being searched and of contraband being found. We also present new results of an analysis of race and the types of contraband found in 2016 Vermont State Police vehicle searches.

Profiles in Parole Release and Revocation Vermont

January 1, 2018

Sentences in Vermont are indeterminate and have both a minimum and a maximum term imposed by the court. Vermont does not have sentencing guidelines or a sentencing commission. Vermont's incarcerated population tripled between 1990 and 2007; the state credits their 2007 Justice Reinvestment Act for reversing (or at least leveling off) this trend. Some form of conditional release has existed in Vermont since 1777 when the power to grant pardons was vested in the governor by the state constitution. In 1898, the legislature gave the Board of Prison Commissioners the power to grant conditional pardons formerly held only by the governor; three years later, the law was declared unconstitutional. It appears that the governor held the power to grant conditional release until 1971, when the Vermont Parole Board was established.

Challenge and Hope in the North Country

December 5, 2017

Hit hard by the national decline in natural-resource and manufacturing jobs, North Country communities in northern New Hampshire and bordering areas of Maine and Vermont (Figure 1) continue to face challenges in restructuring their economies. A 2008 study classified Coös County, New Hampshire, and Oxford County, Maine, as "amenity/decline" regions, a common pattern in rural America where historically resource-dependent places experience decline in their traditional industries, even while natural amenities present new opportunities for growth in areas such as tourism or amenity-based in-migration. Complicating this transition, there is often out-migration of young adults seeking jobs and financial stability elsewhere, as new industries in rural areas tend toward seasonal employment or require different kinds of skills. In this brief, we report on a 2017 survey that asked North Country residents about their perceptions, hopes, and concerns regarding this region. Many of the same questions had been asked on earlier surveys in 2007 and 2010, providing a unique comparative perspective on what has changed or stayed much the same.

Vermont Farm to School Network: Connecting Classrooms, Cafeterias, and Communities

September 20, 2017

A cross-sector coalition in Vermont is working together to make progress on critical statewide issues: childhood hunger and nutrition, education, obesity and wellness, farm viability and environmental quality. Sixty statewide partners are collaborating to understand these complex challenges and advance solutions together—much faster than they could alone.

Driving While Black And Brown In Vermont

January 9, 2017

Vermont is perceived to be a political outlier in the United States. It was the first state to outlaw slavery in 1777. And in our more recent history, Vermont was one of the first states to legalize civil unions and to push (unsuccessfully) for a single payer health care system. When it comes to race relations, it is assume d that Vermont is equally liberal and as result, racial bias towards people who are Black and Hispanic, evident in other parts of the country, should largely be absent here. This paper investigates that assumption. In particular, the authors analyze police traffic stop data to assess the extent, if any, of racial disparities in policing. This task is made possible by legislation passed in the Vermont House that required police departments to begin to collect traffic stop data by race as of September 2014. 

Reaching the Tipping Point: Insights on Advancing Competency Education in New England

October 1, 2016

This paper explores K-12 competency-based education policy and practice across six New England states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.This paper explores the core concepts of competency education, detailing the limitations of the traditional system, and how competency education is designed explicitly for equity and student success. Author Chris Sturgis then dives into why and how the New England region embraces competency education. She provides insights into policy strategies being used across states and analyzes the impact of competency education on quality, equity, scaling and sustainability. The Appendix offers a synopsis of each state strategy, complemented by short case studies of a few districts and schools.

A Qualitative Study of Student-Centered Learning Practices in New England High Schools

April 1, 2016

In early 2015, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation (NMEF) contracted with the UMass Donahue Institute (UMDI) to conduct a qualitative study examining the implementation of student-centered learning (SCL) practices in select public high schools in New England. This study extends lines of inquiry explored through a prior (2014) project that UMDI conducted for NMEF. The 2014 study employed survey methodology to examine the prevalence of student-centered practices in public high schools across New England. The present study builds upon the investigation, using a variety of qualitative methods to further probe the richness and complexity of SCL approaches in use across the region. Specifically, this study was designed to address what student-centered practices "look like" in an array of contexts. The study also addresses the perceived impacts that SCL approaches have on students, staff, and schools. Additionally, it highlights the broad array of factors within and beyond school walls that reportedly foster and challenge the implementation of SCL practices. This study seeks to help NMEF understand the intricacies of SCL and provides strategic considerations for how Nellie Mae can promote the adoption and development of student-centered practices in the region.Nellie Mae organizes student-centered learning by four tenets: (1) learning is personalized; (2) learning is competency-based; (3) learning takes place anytime, anywhere; and (4) students take ownership.Specifically, the study addresses five research questions:What are the characteristics of student-centered practices in relation to the four SCL tenets? How are SCL approaches implemented?What are the salient contextual factors (e.g., systems, structures, policies, procedures) associated with the implementation of SCL practices? How do they support, impede, and otherwise shape the adoption, development, and implementation of SCL approaches?How are schools with moderate and high levels of SCL implementation organized to foster SCL practices? What mechanisms are in place to promote student-centered learning?What is the role of SCL approaches in schools and classrooms? In what ways, if at all, are they embedded in the goals and practices of schools and classrooms?What is the quality of SCL instructional practices in study schools? What relationships, if any, do administrators and educators perceive between these approaches and student learning?

Farm to Plate: Strengthening Vermont's Food System

February 15, 2016

Annual Report Year 5 Fiscal 2015