Re: DSM: public school prisons (sharing the SVS model, etc.)

The Highland School (
Thu, 9 Nov 2000 17:19:08 -0500

I realize that there are social issues around the history and future of
public schooling much too complex to resolve here; however, we have been
involved with a democratic school for over 19 years where the cash tuition
was $15 per month. (The actual tuition was $60 per month and $45 could be
worked off.) The majority of our students were under the poverty line. I
believe Albany Free School is also has a variety of income levels. I just
don't buy the money argument. Candy Landvoigt

> From: Ben B. Day <>
> To:
> Subject: Re: DSM: public school prisons (sharing the SVS model, etc.)
> Date: Thursday, November 09, 2000 3:13 PM
> Oh, come now people, these are all very poor responses to a reasonable
> question. Firstly, the students who most need the benefits of education
> (however unfree) don't go to democratic schools, because they can't
> THEM. Educational requirements are used in the labor market as a means of
> discrimination against those who can't afford their costs (whether direct
> or opportunity costs). Until we can change the labor market (a much more
> daunting task), we can only help students to meet whatever arbitrary
> hurdles are placed in the path towards escaping poverty, wage-slavery,
> etc.
> It seems to me to be frequently forgotten that most students at SVM
> schools have at least some form of financial cushions, whihc allows them
> much more "freedom" both in their choice of education and their
> choice of career and lifestyle. Not surprisingly then, minorities - who
> are overrepresented in low-income families, haven't enjoyed the benefits
> of democratic schooling.
> For us to tell public school teachers that they are complicit in
> undemocratic and unfree education, and that they should bail ship if they
> truly believe in democracy and freedom, is to tell them to abandon all of
> the children who don't have the privilege of alternative, private
> schooling, and who need to do "well" (by whatever miserable standards) to
> have any chance of reasonable living conditions when they leave school.
> Furthermore, we seem to be forgetting that the labor market for TEACHERS
> is not looking so hot these days. Today, about HALF of all teaching jobs
> are part-time or contingent, which means they probably don't include
> health or benefits and pay less than full-timers get for the same work.
> Many part-timers are forced to work at multiple schools and simply can't
> afford health care. In such a situation, teachers themselves enjoy very
> little liberty in choosing where they teach... unless, again, they enjoy
> some financial cushion granting them that leniency. The SVS hiring
> structure is also highly discriminatory against potential staff members
> need of a steady job paying a living wage. Most staff members have to
> attend SVS without pay for some time before being considered by the
> meeting for hire - this is necessary for the school community to get to
> know the person they'll be voting on. After they have done this (which
> requires either leisure time or a working schedule with sufficient free
> time in it), they are usually hired at first only on a part-time basis,
> for one or two days a week. SVS is, of course, much better in this
> than other schools since part-timers who stick with the community
> eventually DO get more days and hours (there's almost no upward mobility
> in the academic labor market - you get hired out of college either as a
> part-timer or a full-timer, and you remain there, or you get knocked down
> from full-time to part-time status).
> I think it's extremely unfair to devalue the work done by consciencious
> teachers in traditional schools, doing the best that they can within the
> constraints given to them by their employers. The dominance of unfree
> schooling is more of a political than a pedagogical problem, and it won't
> be solved by swaying the pedagogical sensibilities of teachers - it will
> be solved by changing the administrative and political bodies (and/or
> the power structures they make decisions within) that enjoy the last word
> on what kind of schooling is "correct" and can pull the plug on funding
> for projects not meeting their criteria.
> ----Ben
> On Fri, 4 Jan 1980, The Highland School wrote:
> > In response to dropping out/striking public school: sure! come put your
> > blood, sweat and tears into a democratic school - there are many to
> > choose from. I wish there were many more. Candy Landvoigt

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