RE: Homogenity at SVS?

Wayne Radinsky (
Tue, 6 Aug 1996 00:14:25 -0700

>> Claim: SVS is better than public schools in income-disadvantaged settings.
>> Evidence: ...
>> Claim: SVS is better than public schools when students are not parent-selected.
>> Evidence: ...
> That is neither a positive nor negative claim. If evaluating whether A is
> better than B, there is no assumption as to which is liklier to be
> better. This is why _civil_ cases (that determine _degrees_ of
> responsibility) _don't_ require unanimous juries.

But people ask these kinds of questions because the traditional model is
the status quo, so from that perspective, SVS has the burden of proof.
This is the whole reason the question comes up at all, because there is
a mountain of evidence SVS works in the general case, so people ask
about extreme cases like impoverished inner-city schools.

In the mind of your average person who has just heard of SVS,
A *is* better than B, until B proves the contrary. Yes I know, in an
ideal world the two would be given a fair trial. But in reality it takes
patience for a new paradigm to dislodge an entrenched installed base.

> There is evidence for these claims. You've heard it, and I don't think it
> needs to be re-argued here. However, the a person who _accepts_ the
> argument that SVS is an effective institution for the students who are
> enrolled is making a _positive_ claim when s/he goes on to claim that it
> _wont_ work for other types of people.

In other words, you believe the SVS system *will* work work in these
situations (and I do too) and want to put the burden of proof on the person
asking, who says it won't work.

> In fact, SVS _does_ argue a negative case against a positive case argued
> by the traditional schools. Traditional schools in this country make the
> _positive_ claim that _one_ type of person (teachers) is better able to run
> the lives of _other_ people (students) than those people themselves. SVS
> asks "where's your proof?"

They can't prove that. *grin*

I think, sure, we don't know about whether the school would work
in certain situations, but we know what situations it will work in, and
we seek to get the model as widely adopted as possible for the situations
where we know it works. Impoverished inner-city schools are an extreme
example. Most public schools are not like that. It's more fair to compare
a typical suburban public school with SVS, to compare the different
school models. When you look at it that way, SVS clearly wins. And
nobody, in my opinion, can claim public schools are working effectively in
impoverished inner-city situations.

>> If there is no evidence, then these claims are undisproved (that is, not proved and
>> also not disproved). Given the nature of SVS, I doubt there is much evidence on
>> either of these claims. In fact I can't even think of a good way of testing them.
>> But the claims might be tested someday. Until then we just don't know.
> They shouldn't be tested experimentally. It would be cruel and inhumane to
> force an experimental group to attend traditional school, while the lucky
> control group is given human rights and dignity.

What I was getting at is, in order to test these claims (the two that I stated)
you would need to set up SVS schools in poor neighborhoods where people can't
pay, and make them available to kids against the wishes of their parents.
Given the way the school is financed -- by tuition paying parents -- this is
fundamentally impossible to do. You would need another financial model for
such a school, in order to test the claims.

You could do it with a wealthy sugar-daddy or financing from the state, but
both of these have the unintended side effect of giving the financing entity control
of the school. Only if the people paying fully believe in the school's philosophy (which
the state doesn't, we already know), and kept their hands off the school, then
would you be able to see if it works.

>> Wayne Radinsky,
>> Some guy who hated public school,
>> And writes interesting (hopefully) email.
> --Scott David Gray
> reply to: