Re: Re: A meeting on diversity in svs-model schools

Kirsten Sutherland (DWDSUT7@UCHIMVS1.UCHICAGO.EDU)
Fri, 06 Sep 96 12:41 CST

Hi all! I am still trying to find ways to answer my question about how
to reach people who would have an interest in our schools if they
felt more welcome (and had the resources to come) and I have decided
(tenatively) based on experience to set up an model it my head--one
that assumes that within each of the minority communities that surround
us (we have lots of them in Chicago) there is a small group of people
that are interested in alternatives in education. I am assuming that
they don't have much time or energy to do a thorough search of
educational options as a result of not having much money or comfort with
navigating the monolith of educational jargin and dominance. I am
assuming that they feel comfortable with those most like them in terms
of language and cultural origin so the issue then becomes one of
educating myself enough about their community to be able to advertise,
have discussions and post flyers in a way that will resonate with the
people who are interested in our school efforts but wouldn't find us on
the web, pick-up our brochure at the "alternative food grocery store" or
new-age, (somewhat) expensive places we frequent and where we would
normally chose to advertise.

I have got a direction for my first efforts: I found a parenting `zine
called _Hip Mama_. It won an award from the Utne Reader for one of the
best new publications of 1995. Many of the women writing in it are
African-American and have clearly significant experiences with parenting
in the environment of urban ghettos and dealing with poverty. It is
published out of Oakland, CA. (P.O.Box 9097, Oakland, CA 94613, Te.
510/658-4508) It is quarterly and subscriptions are $12 to $20 based on
a sliding scale (you decided what you can afford). Ad rates are
available on request. -Looks like it might be a good place to consider
either collective advertizing or even just for our school (when we have
one). I know that the national chain Borders Books carries it (as well
as Mothering Mag.)

I also reached back into my memory of reading about the modern school
movement from the turn of the century which helped spark the movement to
alternatives and freedom in education. As I recall it was a Spanish man
named Francisco Ferrar who founded the Escuela Moderna in Barcelona,
Spain. His school which espoused free thought instead of the manditory
teaching of Catholic docterine and encouraged looking at history from
the perspective of common people (most of them poor and working) spread
to more that 50 other schools in Spain and was violently crushed. His
efforts may be only an early image of the schools we have now, but I
wonder if he is recongized or remembered in the hispanic community?

One more thought: I had a wonderful conversation with a successful
school founder at the SVS conference who had some good suggestions on
the topic of tuition for those us living near urban ghettos and poverty;
He suggested that instead of a sliding-scale or scholarships which would
divide people into classes and create mostly conflict and resentment
(our sliding-scale discussion last spring certainly did bring that to
the fore) he thought we should have a collective pool of money that the
whole school makes a commitment to raise to keep tuition down for
everyone. We would have to find a way of raising money that would be
stable from year to year so grants and single wealthy individuals are
out but the Free School uses rental apartment they own and Highland uses
oil wells...I know the Christmas bazaar at the church down the street
is a long established tradition that brings in a very significant sums
every year. Annual fund anyone? I like community fundraising, it can be
fun when a group collectively forms the idea and participates in
orchestrating it together. Still, any attempt at addressing the need to
keep tuition very low requires community commitment and community
recognition of the need to do so. -Kirsten