Charlotte Albright


Charlotte Albright lives in Lyndonville and currently works in the Office of Communication at Dartmouth College. She was a VPR reporter from 2012 - 2015, covering the Upper Valley and the Northeast Kingdom. Prior to that she freelanced for VPR for several years.

Never mind the robins; one of the first signs of spring in Vermont is the orange-breasted flagman - or flagwoman – as is increasingly common.

Vermont lawmakers are currently chewing over “an act relating to providing meals to health care providers at conferences.”

When I was a reporter covering the Upper Valley, I did a story about a controversy that erupted on the Norwich list serve. Issues often come to a boil on that email forum. This one, I thought, was amusing, yet it touched serious issues that can rile people up - like the environment and public safety.

Recently I heard a woman defend her support of our new president by declaring in an interview that jobs “trump everything.” It reminded me that long before President Donald Trump entered politics, I often used the word trump, with a lower case “t,” to mean override, as in “love trumps all,” or “my love for French fries trumps my New Year’s resolution to eat healthy foods.”

The world premiere coming into its final weekend at Northern Stage, in White River Junction, is called Trick or Treat, and it’s an emotional roller coaster ride. Playwright Jack Neary gives us a working class family trying to hold itself together in Lowell, Massachusetts. For years, they’ve been keeping dark secrets from each other, and from the rest of the town.

In this session of the legislature, lawmakers have the chance to help student journalism thrive in Vermont.

I understand, in theory, why the State Board of Education wants more watchdog power over independent schools that educate some students at state expense, if there are no public schools available in those communities. I also get why some private school parents are outraged. But not all the media coverage I’ve seen accurately explains the proposed rule changes.

Here in Vermont, we might scoff at the House Republicans for trying to muzzle their own ethics watchdog. But that would be hypocritical, because Vermont is one of only three states without an ethics commission of its own.

If Vladimir Putin had walked into my Lyndonville polling place on November 8, I can’t imagine he would have been given a ballot. But in a sense, he may have all-but voted, covertly, from afar.

When I was a reporter, I rarely thought of news as either “good” or “bad.” I left those judgments to the audience. But now that I’m more of a consumer than a producer of media, I have to admit I’m growing weary of hourly reports about national and international strife.

My mother was a staunch Democrat whose Depression-era vote for Franklin Delano Roosevelt put her at serious odds with her Republican in-laws. My father liked Ike – Eisenhower, that is - who was Republican.

It was 1972, the summer after my college graduation. I was a teaching fellow at Phillips Andover Academy, an ivy-covered liberal stronghold in deep blue Massachusetts. I was gregarious, but I didn’t know anyone – literally not one person - who wanted Richard Nixon to be president. George McGovern was the obvious choice, especially for young people like me who had taken to the streets to protest the Vietnam war.

The United Nations seems to have decided that there are no human women qualified to be new honorary ambassador for women and girls, so they’ve chosen… Wonder Woman.

The new health care model, called an all-payer system, looks logical enough. Simply put, primary care providers would not be paid for individual services. Instead, they could choose to join an accountable care organization, and get a monthly fee for taking care of their patients.

Let’s face it, a lot of us show up for work when we should stay home. Of course, when you have only about six weeks left to win a presidential election, spending a day in your pajamas binge watching West Wing and asking your husband to make you some chicken soup - my usual flu season gambit - is probably not an option.

Vermont’s Agency of Education has just released statewide results for standardized tests in language arts and math given in grades three through eight, and eleven. In general it would appear that Vermont students improve in language arts as they progress through school, with about 54 percent of third graders achieving proficiency, and almost 59 percent of eighth graders hitting that mark. In math, though, students seem to lose skills over time, from a 56 percent proficiency level in third grade to a 38 percent proficiency level in 11th grade.

As Tropical Storm Irene roared through Vermont, I was at home in the Northeast Kingdom, anxiously waiting for the rain and winds to make their way to my house in Lyndonville. A reporter at the time, I’d placed my hip boots, rain jacket and pants by the door, filled my car’s gas tank, and was ready to head out into the weather to report on damage and talk to victims.

Hospital report cards come from all kinds of sources these days, online and in news headlines. But the criteria for judgment vary, and scores can be wildly different, even for the same hospital, depending on who’s doing the inspection.

In my experience as a college professor, a student who plagiarizes doesn’t have the luxury of a speechwriter taking the fall.

If you’re old enough - and I am - to remember the thwack of rolled up newsprint hitting your door each morning, and the pleasure of perusing page one as you sip your coffee, this won’t be good news.