Re: DSM: Sudbury Schools in an Urban setting


Bruce Smith (bsmith@coin.org)
Fri, 2 Feb 2001 09:15:55 -0700


This is Bruce at AVS, with a few words on open campus.

First, I agree with Stuart on the difficulties of open campus
certification. I don't know how you'd devise or enforce it in any feasible
way. Also, open campus is at the heart of student mobility or freedom of
movement, which makes it somewhat more substantial than, say, the freedom
to use the computer or the microwave.

At the Sudbury schools where I've been, the way open campus has been
"regulated," if you will, is by private family agreement. Children and
parents have their own understandings about what circumstances, if any,
permit a child to go off campus. The school doesn't officially know about,
monitor or enforce these agreements; yet they seem to be extremely
effective, both in allowing even very young students freedom of mobility,
and in giving parents some degree of comfort.

Yet we make it very clear in enrollment interviews that we can't guarantee
someone won't just take off without anyone knowing. It's unlikely this
would happen, but I believe it's a good litmus test: if the parents can't
trust their kids to follow a family agreement on open campus, maybe a
Sudbury school isn't for them. It's difficult, especially in the early
going, not to "sell" the school and minimize families' concerns, but it's
much better to bring up potential areas of concern sooner rather than
later.

At AVS I believe the policy on attendance states that "open campus is not
meant to be used as a substitute for regular attendance on campus." I could
be wrong about the wording, but that's the gist of it. At Liberty Valley a
few years back, students had to sign in and out for open campus, on a sheet
next to where they signed in and out for the day. They didn't have to say
where they were going, or how long they'd be gone, but at least we'd know
who was on campus at any given time. Not having this system at Alpine
Valley hasn't been a problem, but I can certainly see its appeal.

Well, that's plenty for now.

Bruce



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