Re: DSM: Interest increasing?


Heidi Barker (hbarker@mtaonline.net)
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 02:19:16 -0900


> > Anybody know what's the smallest community that does support a
> > democratic school?
>
> I've heard of Sudbury Model Schools with as little as 6 to 10 members,
> including staff.

    What I meant is, what's the smallest town/city that has a SVS-model
school, including commuting-distance population?
    I had a nice talk Friday with Laura, a founder of the Blue Mountain
School in Cottage Grove, Oregon. One of the points she wanted to make is
there is a difference between the east coast and the west coast. She said
for example,
Sudbury is not parent-participatory at all and in Oregon, they prefer to
have the parents participate. The do give the parents an orientation so
"they
won't bring their trip on the kids."
    She also commented that the JC of the Sudbury Model is harsh. In her
school they do some sort of problem solving between concerned parties and
only if there isn't a good faith effort with this problem solving, then they
go the JC route.
    Laura says, by the way, that 60 minutes will be doing a segment on SVS,
maybe this spring. How's that for media exposure?
     Blue Mountain school is not exactly a charter, because the charter laws
didn't exist yet when they started the school three years ago, but it is
publically funded. As a publically funded school, they are required to
present each child with the opportunity to take the Benchmark Tests, but the
students don't have to take them. I tried to find out if the same is true
in Alaska and it does seem to be true. I don't know what would happen if
there were an entire school of students that didn't want to take the
Benchmarks.
    I talked with the state Commissioner's Office of Education today and
they say a charter school in Alaska has to first be approved by the school
district and its school board before it goes onto the state. Sounds pretty
political. The political advice Laura gives is first convince those in
power that we
(all of us) have the right as parents to make decisions for our families.
Once you have them agreeing with that, then you present them with what your
choice is, that is, the SVS model. You don't go right in talking SVS.
    Cindy asks what is a charter school. It's a contract with a school
district whereby you agree to do certain things that the state mandates,
like give the benchmarks, and they then give you 80% of the funds that each
student is usually worth. The contract has much detail in it like
student/teacher ratio, etc. I have a packet for starting a charter school
coming in the mail, so I'll know more next week. I don't know if it's
possible to be a charter school and an uncompromised SVS model school at the
same time, but I
figure it's worth looking into. One thing's for sure, we're going to miss
the Feb. 1st deadline.
Heidi



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