Stuart gave you the important answers. Here are the others . . .
Yes the Assembly does, at least theoretically, have a lot of power at Sudbury
Valley and many other Sudbury-model schools. I have often felt a little
squeamish about it.
And there certainly have been many parents over the years who, if they could
have figured out how to get together the political clout, might have made
some drastic change in the philosophy of the school.
Luckily this has never happened. Well, actually it did happen once. In the
very first months of the school, parents tried, the staff walked out (as in
"quit") and the Trustees were left to try to figure out what to do.
Eventually they got a school back together, but it was not a sure thing and
not an instant thing.
But I think there is more than luck at work here. Most of the parents who
care enough to exercise their right to come to Assembly meetings and work on
issues tend to be people who think long and hard about those issues. And
these parents seem to be educated in the model _and_ susceptible to reason.
They usually make pretty good decisions when threatened by people trying to
make fundamental changes.
Who wants to bother with a school full of parents who hate the ideas, after
all? So better to do one's best to get them on the side of -- of course --
This was not settled in my mind for many a year at SVS, but now I feel pretty
secure about the structure that we have. One of the major things we have
going for us is students, and even staff. The students and the staff are so
politically astute, from the constant exercise of making a democracy work,
that they are not easy to boondoggle, and very smooth operators in an
Assembly meeting -- most parents don't get that much practice!