Alternative Education Survey
Thu, 6 Feb 1997 16:18:21 -0500

Dear SVSers:
The AERO list and altsch list-serve responded to our search for
questions and issues which most concerned them as alternative
educators. If you would like to participate in this survey and
hear the results, just follow the instructions below: JM

Dear Alternative Educators:
Following this note are the survey questions which were
suggested by our readers. Please indicate the NUMBERS of
the questiions which you feel are most important and send
them to us at There is no limit to the
total numbers you may submit. We will compile the results
and let you know which ones have garnered the most
interest. We will then discuss some of these and try to find
some solutions. Our intern suggests that you also use them
as a basis for discussion in your school and homeschool
meetings. --Jerry Mintz, Alternative Education Resource
Organization, HTTP://

1. How do you create a diverse student body?
2. How do you help students learn how to use freedom?
3. How should schools deal with gender domination of
schools, or of groups within schools, lack of mixed genders
within groups?
4. What about schools not having enough students or
enough students within an age group?
5. How do we find out how to better work with giftedness,
both in school and in homeschooling?
6. How do you counter the culture which tells kids they
aren't really in school when they go to a free school? What
to do with kids who don't appreciate or understand or
respect the process which they are in?
7. How do we find resources within the school's philosophy
for helping students with special educational problems and
learning disabilities?
8. How do we walk the line between being nurturing, and
holding kids to standards in their work?

9. How do you get parents involved, get them to volunteer
to do work for the school?
10. How do we prevent problems with a school becoming
"co-opted" by gradually more affluent, more conservative
11. How do you overcome the insecurity by homeschool
parents--"can I really do this?"
12. How does a school deal with parental anxiety, the need
for parent education?
13. How does a parent deal with lack of family support,
community support for homeschooling or alternative

14. How do we train teachers within our schools?
15. How does a school hold on to staff with low salaries?
16. What programs are there to educate teachers in
democratic process and alternative education?
17. How do staff inspire academic achievement within a
democratic and alternative school process?
18. What can we do about teachers who forget the school is
for students?
19. How do we deal effectively with staff conflict when the
school is supposed to be a supportive wonderful place to be,
and nobody wants to disrupt that image?

20. How can we use fundraising and financial problems as a
means of building unity?
21. How do we find grants and funding sources other than
22. What are the advantages and disadvantages of
proprietary or for-profit schools and non-profits with a
board? How many schools are profit and how many are
23. Is there any history of successfully merging businesses
and schools?

24. Why is true democracy so hard to accept?
25. How can democratic education be introduced into public
26. How big should a democratic school be?
27. Have alternative schools successfully tried to create a
consensus process as opposed to pure democracy?

28. Why do schools not regularly reexamine their basic
principles? Why is there a lack of openness to questioning
the way they operate without dogmatic responses.
29. How do we avoid schools becoming institutionalized in
order to survive?
30. How to deal with the feeling that learning must be
31. How far should you go to attract students to the school,
even if the parents don't understand or agree with the
32. How can the school pioneers transmit their ideas and
approaches to younger leaders?
33. Why do we as a culture hate adolescents so much?

34. How do we convince the public that alternative schools
are good for the so called "A" students and not just for the
"at-risk" students?
35. How to deal with the public school corruption of the
meaning of "alternative school?"
36. How do we convince big organizations like Petersons
that there can be more types of schools than college prep,
and special needs (their only two categories at this point).

37. How do you keep energy for a school after the founders
38. How do you create a learning community in a school?
39. What can we do about conflicts within alternative
education associations and groups?
40. How do you fight your way through bureaucracies to
create freedom for students?
41. How do you deal with the prejudice that public choice
and at-risk schools and private alternatives have against
each other?

42. How do you deal with fire and health inspectors?
43. To what extent should a school prepare for legal
problems? What kind of liability insurance should they get?
What activities should be absolutely avoided?
44. How should a school deal with legal charges and
lawsuits, for example, charges of sex abuse and harassment,
discrimination, injuries?