Re: Working for love.

Joe Jackson (
Sun, 29 Mar 1998 08:49:23 -0500

Hello, Joe form Fairhaven School in MD.

This is a good subject. What Liz is saying is true, and yet Tim has some
very valid points

> <Of course not. Traditionally, the first year staff at a Sudbury school
> for love and, hopefully, pay themselves back over the next few years.
> Still interested?
> Help us raise money!> Liz
> I'm interested in this as a moral question. Is it right, from anybody's
> point of view, to ask staff to work below the Union rate?

I think in a free enterprise system anyone can ask anybody to work for any
amount they care to put on the table. I won't touch the morality issue, but
it occurs to me that many states are not "right-to-work" states, in which
it would be illegal to employ people for less than union scale. I also know
that Maryland is one of those states (pardon me for using your discussion
as a springboard into my school's concerns). Does anybody know what scale
is? Fairhaven School will pay staff $11/hour.

Here's my opinion as to some of the issues:

> There are arguments against. 1. Will it be possible to attract
> professional people to work for love?

Certainly, many schools have succeeded in attracting superior staff on the
basis of the fact that they know that volunteering (in terms of community
service) will make the school viable, at which time (in the 2nd or 3rd
year) the salaries would come. On the other hand, when you pay you have a
better chance of attracting solid staff. I, as a founder of the Fairhaven
School work from 15 to 25 hours a week on startup for no pay in addition to
having a full time job. Should I demand pay when I know there isn't any?
The point is that most schools simply are not in any position to pay staff
(much) the first year and the only reason we're any different is because
we're in a location where within a fifteen-mile radius 197,520 kids attend
public school, half of them hate it, half of _them_ are hip enough to want
to go to a Sudbury school, and a tenth of _them_ have parents hip enough to
let them.

>2. Even if it is, will they give proper professional service?

If I love doing something, it's basically not possible for me to do it less
than my best. How about you?

> 3. Is it fair to the kids to run a school where the staff are not being
paid >professional rates - is there not a danger that the results will be
below standard?

OK, you're losing me here a little. Results? Below standard? You're
sounding a little like a teacher, which which is a function substantially
distinct from a Sudbury staff member.

> 4. Would it not be better first to raise the necessary funds and only
then to
> employ staff, in sufficient numbers, at the correct Union rate?

Once again not addressing the morality/political issue of unions, as a
founder of a Sudbury school I can tell you that won't work, no way. You're
basically asking a school to fund first year salaries either mostly or
entirely from donations. First of all it's an improper accounting practice,
funding any portion of your operating budget from donations absent of
funding letters or grants. That can get you in trouble when you go to
financial institutions. Second, I'm assuming the reserves being paid to
staff would go at the expense of equity in the building and educational
There's two world views of two people with different goals at work here:

1. The technician (educator in your case, Tim), a world view I hold at my
"day job":
I am a professional. I am qualified in my field based on my talent,
education, and experience. I should be paid, as all professionals in my
field are paid, a wage commensurate. My only concern is the standards to
which I perform my specialty, and I will always perform it to the absolute
best of my ability.

2. The founder: I am starting a Sudbury school. I have arrived at the model
from a philosophical and spiritual journey, having immersed myself in
literature and research of the model. If The Sudbury model ever
proliferates past the point of educational subculture, I think it will
profoundly alter our society. I am starting the school as a gesture of
uncompensated service to my children, the children of my community, and to
the world.

As you can see, one sounds like a tradesman's creed, the other sounds like
the damn pledge of allegiance.

Having said all of this, I believe, absent of anything else, paying staff
properly is the right thing to do.

Cheers, Joe