Re: DSM: It's the $$$, stupid.

Dawn F. Harkness (
Mon, 20 Nov 2000 11:05:52 -0500


I, for one, see no contradiction in your posts. And I think your points are
well taken and I hope I can rise to the challenge in my response.

My reply to chrisgo's message was triggered by what I perceive to be a
common justification by teachers who choose to participate in the system for
their own personal profit even though they themselves already know how evil
the system is. Since she/he made it very clear that the ONLY reason she/he
did the work was for the money, I judged that motivation accordingly. To
me, there's a kind of crassness to such greed and it really bugs me. Ipso
facto, very poor role model in my book.

It seems to me that your AVS colleagues may fit a different bill. Given your
evaluation of their situations, it would seem that at least one reason
Colleague #2 works in the traditional school model is to support the work of
her husband who is committed to the establishment of AVS. That would be a
horse of a different color. Of course, I think it would be better if she
could find a way to use her skills to make money other than to give comfort
to the enemy, but I find it harder to oppose her decision. Hence I would
not be able to make a prima facie case against either one of them as poor
role models.

I understand your conflict with Colleague #3; it may surprise you to know
that I have some #3s in my life. Yes it is true. I deeply love some people
who are on the other side even though I hate the choices they have made in
their careers. I have known and loved my #3s for many years, since before
they became teachers. I love them for our long histories together. I love
them for how much fun we have had together. I love them for everything we
have been through together. I love them, because they love me. But I don't
love them for their work and they love me in spite of my many shortcomings.

My #3s and I are all pretty clear about where we stand on the issues. In
fact it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they were lurking in this
forum. When asked my opinion on the subject, they get an honest answer. I
love that they still come to me for advice for how to deal with the issues
they face in their work. But mostly, we have agreed to disagree on that
subject. We focus on the things we have in common, like our mutual life
long obsessions with the Red Sox.

So, to the degree that my condemnation of chrisgo's choices may have been
simplistic, I think that it should be interpreted in the context of the
simplistic rationalization which she/he put forward. I get that there are
many shades of grey and I'm happy to try to find ways of distinguishing one
from another within the context of a spirited debate.


-----Original Message-----
From: Bruce Smith <>
Date: Sunday, November 19, 2000 11:54 PM
Subject: Re: DSM: It's the $$$, stupid.

>Now, this may seem odd to some of you, given my post defending Dawn's
>outspokenness. But it shouldn't, for I _was_, after all, trying to draw a
>distinction between criticizing someone's argument and criticizing the
><<And in my opinion all traditional school employees ought to 'fess up to
>what this teacher blithely admits: You engage in the involuntary
>incarceration of children for your own personal profit...As for being a
>Sudbury School model staff member, I can't imagine worse role models for
>children than adults who have made careers "watching colleagues control
>little children K, 1, 2, by shaming them into submission." Shame on anyone
>who stomachs that to collect a paycheck.>>
>I'd like to raise the example of two colleagues here at Alpine Valley, one
>of whom taught in the "government schools," as he puts it, for three years
>_after_ the opening of AVS; and his wife, the other colleague in question,
>who's now taken his place in that system so that he can devote more time to
>Alpine Valley. This during a time when our school cannot pay living wages,
>and would not exist without these two. Have we, or they, sold our souls to
>the public-school devil in order to enable AVS to survive? Are they, prima
>facie, poor role models?
>I also think of my closest colleague from my own days of incarcerating
>children, a woman whom I still regard fondly, but who stubbornly refuses to
>get out of a system whose faults she sees. I cannot justify her staying
>there, and it pisses me off and saddens me; but while it may impair our
>friendship, I just can't find it in me to despise her.
>I certainly share Dawn's loathing of traditional schools, and the
>functionaries who abuse those children under the guise of helping them
>grow. Part of me agrees _profoundly_ with Dawn; but I see her argument in
>this area as too simplistic. How can I demonize _everyone_ who has *any*
>connection to that system? What I feel for those who remain in traditional
>schools (anger, sadness, hatred, in varying amounts applied to various
>people) is too complex to give it only one label. So I try to reserve my
>disgust for those who refuse to admit that, despite their good intentions,
>they are helping perpetuate an evil.
>I'm not bothered by Dawn's words or her tone. But it's harder for me to
>share the force of her argument in the context of these friends of mine.
>And besides, to echo Joe, I'm too damn busy building my own school to get
>too mired in debunking someone else's.
>And if you see this as inconsistency on my part, it only looks that way
>because of all the complex and awful
>shades of gray.

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