DSM: Dawn's Ideas

From: Dawn Harkness (dawn@harkness.net)
Date: Sat Nov 17 2001 - 08:53:18 EST

Leslie wrote:

> concerning my previous post which you found "off the wall".
> the reason i noticed your post in the first place was that more than a
> few assembly members told me: "you got to take a look @ this..."
> this was the first time i even went on the board. i have no desire to
> hang out on svs boards. i'd rather take out the garbage.
> but when i read your last couple of posts i thought i should reply as a
> svs parent with a different point of view. i was horrified that people
> interested in the sudbury model might think all svs parents share your
> black and white, either/or philosophy of: "i know i'm right and they're
> wrong.".

My original post was written in response to a former traditional school
teacher's assertion that he could give bits of democracy to students in a
traditional school setting. This happens to be a particular pet peeve of
mine. I wrote to challenge his assertions and in the course of the debate
gave a clear example of the most dramatic way I believe children's civil
rights are curtailed in our American educational/legal system, and why I
believe those systems are repressive and harmful to children. It was my
intention to explain why I believe SVS is the best place for my daughter,
and why I believe that Sudbury schools are a civil rights oasis for
children. My reasons are in line with my personal and political beliefs,
but I haven't and wouldn't represent that my reasons are shared by any other
parent at SVS. In the years my daughter has been enrolled in SVS I have met
many parents who have very different reasons than I do for why their kids
are enrolled at the school.

I think that most people who enroll their children, especially their young
children, have chosen SVS because they believe in the philosophy. But, in
limited experience, there are many paths to SVS. Recently we have had
families choose SVS in response to the high stakes / high stress testing
(MCAS) which has been implemented as part of "education reform" in
Massachusetts. There are SVS parents who have enrolled their children
because they have been thrown out of every school they ever attended due to
misconduct and/or academic failure. One family enrolled their son because,
though he excelled academically, he needed time and space to develop
socially. Another family enrolled their very young child because they
didn't think she was ready for traditional schools, but traditional day care
was way more expensive. SVS was an economical solution for this family
which needed two parents to work and couldn't afford any other alternative.
I know one family whose motivation for enrolling their child was to take
advantage of the entrepreneurial spirit which is embodied in the system of
corporations and concessions at SVS. There are parents who reject the
teaching of evolution in traditional schools and they want to protect their
children from state sponsored / inflicted curricula. There are SVS parents
who believe that this is the best environment for their child to develop
their special talent without the distractions of required classes. I even
know one family who said that their children were enrolled at SVS because
there was no way in hell that they would be able to get their act together
to make the school bus at some ungodly hour, and SVS's flexible hours of
attendance worked for their family.

This is just a smattering of the reasons people I know have chosen SVS. SVS
is a pluralistic community, and I have never thought that I speak for anyone
other than myself. I don't speak for my child - she has her own reasons for
loving SVS. Hell, I don't even speak for my absolutely wonderful partner,
Kristin. We more than occasionally disagree on issues. She has her own
opinions and is more than capable of expressing them when she so chooses. I
welcome any parent or student of a Sudbury school to share their reasons for
choosing this educational path.

> with all your "extensive experience with teens" it might interest you to
> know that most, if not all the teens @ svs think most, if not all the
> svs parents are pretty much fucked. it's been my experience from
> discussing it with them, when they bring it up, that they especially
> find meddlesome over involved parents especially offensive.

I challenge this blanket assertion. Many kids I know value their parents'
opinions, and the opinions of other adults with whom they find commonality.
I know that over the years many students, and a few staff as well, have
sought out my legal opinion, encouraged me to be involved in the school, and
like the way I think, write, and speak to issues which I care about. I know
there are also those who would rather I go away. I wouldn't make sweeping
generalizations about what kids think any more than I would make sweeping
generalizations about what adults think.

>From your posts, it seems that you are upset and misinformed regarding what
you characterize as my "meddling" with the current tuition structure. I
have gotten so many questions since your first post that I feel I should
give the very bare bones of my proposal, so I will, in a new thread entitled
"Thoughts on Tuition Structure" (coming soon). That way, folks can evaluate
what they think for themselves rather than be left with the absolutely
incorrect assumption that I am trying to get rid of "economic diversity" at
SVS. Nothing could be further from the truth. And to the degree that this
kind of tuition structure has been adopted by many other Sudbury schools, I
think it will be appropriate for this forum.

> + on a personal note, don't threaten me, start stepping or calling me
> out because i could give 2-3 shits if you are "unlike most sudbury
> valley parents, an attorney with extensive experience with teens".
> unlike you, i know i have nothing to lose.

What is this all about? We have no "personal" connection. I was introduced
to you once by a staff member several years ago. Other than that and the
recent postings on this listserve, we have no connection, no history. As
far as I can tell, then and now, you and I have nothing in common other than
being carbon based life forms, and I am fine with that. I don't know where
you're coming from at all re: "don't threaten me", "start stepping" or
"calling me out" and having "nothing to lose". Yes, I find this kind of
post "off the wall".

> Ghandi, my ass.
> The following are your words, Dawn, not mine; culled from the archives:

<cut various quotes from old posts of mine>

Leslie, when I first started posting on DSM I did not fully understand the
rules of this forum. Once I understood that I had crossed the line, I
publicly apologized. Here, culled from the archives, is the pertinent part
of that apology:

"I do regret sending that post as it was. I should have focused on the
substantive issues here and if I felt the need to vent at Rick, I should
have sent a private email. I'm very sorry. I will try do better in the
future. I can't guarantee that I won't dance right up to the line of good
taste, but I will try very hard not to cross over to the dark side."

Since then I have tried my best to address the post, not the person. Seems
unfair to dredge the archives and quote me out of context. These days, I
think some apologies are due to me.



If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please send an email TO
majordomo@sudval.org (do NOT reply to the mailing list) with the following
phrase in the BODY (not the subject) of the message, replacing
"email@host.dom" with the email address that you subscribed under:

unsubscribe discuss-sudbury-model email@host.dom

If you are interested in the subject, but the volume of mail sent is too much,
you may wish to consider unsubscribing from this list and subscribing to

This mailing list is archived at http://www.sudval.org/~sdg/archives

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.0.0 : Wed Mar 27 2002 - 19:39:48 EST