Re: DSM: Educational Reform

Martha Fay (fay@tlc.harvard.edu)
Thu, 21 May 1998 09:33:29 -0400 (EDT)

On Wed, 20 May 1998, SEArenas wrote:

> But it would be interesting to hear from parents who
> have had kids in public schools, not just struggling inner-city public schools
> but "good" public schools (the ones that get nationally recognized for
> innovation and excellence), parents who have volunteered and been active in
> working with school districts and staff, and how and why they chose to leave
> that learning environment for a Sudbury model school.

Our kids went to a good public elementary school, nationally recognized
for innovation and excellence (and also a struggling inner-city public
school, by the way). One child thrived there, vowing never to leave; the
other was not so happy but did well. The environment was relatively open,
emotionally warm, and respectful to children. Everyone went by first
name, including the principal. The older boy went on (despite his vow) to
the best and most prestigious high school in the city, one of the top
public schools in the nation. After three disastrous years of watching
the life drained out of him, we finally heard about SVS and both boys are
now enrolled there.

One of the things that we have realized over the course of this first
enrollment year is that the things we liked about their elementary school
are the things that parallel the Sudbury model. Conversely, the areas in
which the first school did not fit the democratic model were the same
areas that troubled us and particularly our younger son. We also learned
that the boy who vowed never to leave actually had a lot of complaints but
never voiced them because he simply accepted that this was the way it was
and had to be.

My husband and I now often wonder: if we had known about SVS when the
boys were younger, would we have understood it? Would we have enrolled
them? My guess is that we would have been intrigued, understood it fairly
well, but we would still not have "gotten it" enough to enroll them.
Since our kids appeared to be doing well in the traditional environment, I
think the commute and the cost of tuition would have overidden other
considerations. However, if we had known about SVS sooner, I think we
would have made the change 3 or 4 years ago.

So, to sum up, my kids have been to some of the best public schools and
there is no doubt in my mind that SVS is a far better learning environment
for them.

Martha