DSM: Re: independent schools

Joe Jackson (shoeless@erols.com)
Tue, 26 May 1998 15:16:40 -0400

Hi Sandra,

> Sara,
>
> I have a big problem with the idea of any SVS model school being under
the
> auspices of anything but the students and parents, and most _especially_
> not a church. Someone else recently posted a message about trying to get
a
> foundering school begun in the SVS mode under the umbrella of some
minister
> or church.
>
> Wow, is anybody else as bothered as I am about the thought of ANY
religious
> organization having ANYthing to do with ANY SVS type school?? To me,
that
> would be like having a school under the auspices of a political party.
> There would be a "party line", "dogma", what have you, in any case,
> regardless of how much anyone tried to convince themselves that the
> positions of the organization would not be part of the school. I don't
> believe that is possible.

We're sure as heck bothered by the fact that opening as a church-exempt
school is the only way to have a Sudbury School graduating students in
Maryland, but that is certainly the only way, and I'm obviously not making
the rules. I think we've done a great job of putting more than enough
checks and balances into the Fairhaven School/Fairhaven Fellowship
corporate structure, and I would say that it certainly is possible, and in
fact the positions of the school and of the organization are in this case
one and the same.

> As well, what happens when a student or parent speaks up at school
meeting
> with an opinion or idea that is 180 out from the beliefs of the
> organization? Can you even imagine a student in a church "sponsored"
school
> delving into the history of religion and freely espousing atheistic
views?

Well, it's merely a matter of setting things up so that the governing
procedures under which the church runs the school ARE the living embodiment
of the Sudbury Model. SM Governing Procedures do not allow for interference
from any governing body, including corporate officers, the school assembly,
or church heads. I can imagine it because you're describing our school.

> And then there is the Big "M": Money. Where does the money come from,
and
> if it comes from the congregation and/or some diocese-type level, for
> example, what happens if the church is "pro life" and a student wants to
do
> an internship at a clinic that performs abortions??? Can you just see it?
> "Oh sure, yah, no problem - go for it and learn a lot!" There is no such
> thing as free money.
>
> It comes down to this: if funding comes from tuition, then independence
can
> be a reality. If funding comes from any other source, whether it be the
> state, feds, community at large, church, Loyal Order of the Leprechauns,
or
> anyone else, freedom and independence are permanently compromised.

Yes, I agree; certainly the operating revenue of the school must be arrived
at independently through tuition and fundraising performed by the school,
and not by the church.

> Having
> an SVS model school under the "auspices" of ANY organization is, to me,
> antithetical.

Actually, all Sudbury Schools are defacto set up under the auspices of an
organization, be it a corporation, church, etc. I think your points about
operating revenue are valid, but schools must operate as entities in our
country, and the trick is choosing what kind of entity works best and
setting it up the best you can, using all the legal help you can afford.

A sponsoring church will either let the school function as a Sudbury School
or it won't, and if it won't the school simply looks for or starts a
religion that will.

-Joe Jackson
Fairhaven School, Upper Marlboro, MD
shoeless@erols.com