Re: the right to purse excellence

Anne Evans (
Tue, 06 May 1997 14:28:10 +0000 wrote:
> Dear Deborah,
> This is from Hanna at SVS.
> I just came back home after spending two weeks with my new born grandson. If
> my reply is too late so be it. I am moved to write to you about the issue of
> sending your kids to a private school and by doing so being non-supportive of
> the public schools. I hear that criticism too often and this is what my
> response is.
> First I think that the public schools should NOT be supported but obliterated
> from the face of the earth and new schools should take their place. But
> until it is shown and accepted that Sudbury schools are good for kids it is
> better to so call "experiment" with children who are in the top 15% of
> whatever they mean ( I don't know what they are talking about but I will let
> it be) rather then take risks with kids who are at a higher risk in our
> society to begin with. Thus we are not taking the cream off but rather using
> those kids to forge new ways to improve education for all kids.
> The second argument is that people aren't serious when they say that for the
> sake of society as a whole they believe their kids should go the the public
> schools. This is usually said by people who live in "better" sections of
> town or in the suburbs. I question their sincerity and rather think that
> they use this argument to cover their choice to go with what they know and
> not to take risks with their kids. I respect the choice but resent the
> explanation for it. These people never go to the local hospital that
> services the poor but always find the best medical care that they can for
> their families. I for one feel the same about my kids schooling as they feel
> about medical emergencies. I seek the best for my children and refuse to
> subject them to abuse in order to be egalitarian. If I want to better the
> world I do my best to change it but while it is happening I take care of my
> kids the best way I know how. They get the best medical care which I find
> access to and they go to a private school which fits our family's philosophy
> rather than have to put up with the inadequacies of the local public school.
> And above all else don't you think that the children should have a say about
> their school choice? Do they want to go to a bad place in order to support
> public education or would they rather go to a school which is right for them?

During the last 17 years of starting an alternative school and building
it up, watching it become more and more successful and popular, I
watched a staeady stream of guests from the local public schools come
and go and use the ideas of the innovative little school that was taking
away its students. First they came in disguise - they had a child they
were looking to place, then they came openly: the psychologists, the
principals, the teachers and then as our success grew, they began to
send their own biological children! At one time the only thing our
diverse family body had in common was that 95% of our families had one
or more parent who was an active public school teacher! And slowly we
began to see some of our ideas seep into the public schools - I think
this is the best argument for alternative education - let them call our
population "the top 15%" (I agree with you - whatever that means) but
I'll sure pass it on to the kids - they will love to know they are in
the top 15% of whatever!!!!! It beats other labels that have been stuck
on us and maybe more of our ideas that work will be copied and affect
more children. I know that the copies are but poor alternates in most
cases, but along with the public school observers creeping in, then
sending their kids, I have also seen a steady stream of new teAchers
- so I welcome the observers and the emulators - heck, I'll advise them
on how to do it if they ask me. Aren't we all working in our own way for
our school ideas to become better accepted, for new ones (public or
private) to start up, for growth, change and innovation in whatever
system there is.