Re: DSM: [SVS Discussion Board] questions

Alan Klein (
Tue, 18 Apr 2000 17:49:52 -0400

Joe wrote:
> - using the school to combat the evils of society make the school a
> less effective place for ALL colors, creeds and sexual orientations. A
> School Meeting is, of course, free to conduct its business however it
> but that's what I would argue in SM.

I agree and am not interested in using the school for any cobat purposes. I
am interested in having as diverse a school population as is achievable.
This is a selfish wish on my part. I also am wanting to spread democratic
schools throughout society, as was the original wish of SVS's founders, who
saw this kind of schooling as uniquely American in many ways. That there are
segments of the poulation who are not attracted to democratic schooling for
reasons other than than the nature of the schooling itself is problematic
for me. For example, the fact that The Highland School is in rural West
Virginia in a county at least two hours away from any sizable (though tiny)
population of people of color makes it difficult to attract such folks, even
if they are interested in the educational philosophy. The fact that many
poor, black people see alternative schools of any kind as an attempt to
experiment on their kids makes it difficult to attract them, as well. The
simple fact that The Highland School is an all-white school makes it
difficult to attract people of color, who may worry about fitting in.

> - that the divisions between many demographies that have historically been
> the buzz-definition for "multiculturalism" are literally disappearning.
> step daughter is half native American, my son-in-law is full
> Salvadorian-American. Will my son have people who want him in a school
> because he is at least three times as "multicultural" as a WASP?
> not: his skin is white.

I agree that these color lines are breaking down. Unfortunately, we are
still operating, from a societal point of view, on a color basis. No matter
what one's lineage, if one's skin looks dark, one is treated as a dark
person. If one's skin is light, one is treated as a white person.

> - multiculturalism is much more than skin deep. I agree the questioner
> seemed to want Scott to do the distateful work for him of making
> about what races (or combinations thereof) constitute "multiculturalism"
> subsequently critique the school based on these assumptions. I don't
> the questioner, either; it's hard to look like a cool researcher when
> asking questions like, "how many ancestrally pure African-Americans do you
> have at your school?" Which is one (of, I'm sure, many) of the things he
> *actually* wanted to know.

I wonder if you really do "know what you know" in this case, or are you
making a set of assumptions?

> No one is debating the idea that hanging out with people of, for example,
> different color or sexual persuasion is important. I am debating that
> multiculturalism cannot not be defined by and should not be evaluated
> on such superficial standards, and that this true "multiculturalism of
> character" is at least as important as racial diversity.

I don't place these things in a hierarchy of importance. I see all of this
as important.
 Alan wrote:
> > When I do a "diversity" workshop, as I did the other day, with a team of
> > workers from a major high-tech manufacturing company who are all
> > white, all male, almost all Protestant, and who's average tenure with
the company was
> > 31.5 years I feel on safe ground to say that there was not much
> > multiculturalism within that group. Nothing wrong with that. It was just
> > fact. My tack with them was to look at themselves as individuals
> > and to look at the similarities and differences they embodied. We talked
> > about how they handle those differences and looked at effective ways to
take advantage of
> > them and to lessen the complexities of doing so.
> I respectfully submit that if there were no multiculturalism in that
> then there would be no differences to handle.

I disagree. Difficulties are not only caused by differences in culture.
Variations in personality, experiences, etc., etc., etc. are also great
sources of differences that lead to complexities and may or may not lead to

> Great talking to you Alan!!

Likewise to you, Joe!!


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