Re: DSM: Sudbury Charter Schools

From: Mary Rose Murrin (
Date: Sun Mar 03 2002 - 09:56:22 EST

You might need a genius in grantsmanship, but there are more appropriate answers to the questions.
Do you have a curriculum?
    We do not have a prescribed curriculum. Students are free to establish their own educational agendas appropriate to their individual needs. As seed facilities, we will have a library of X volumes covering a broad range of knowledge from a variety of disciplines. In addition, we have the following educational resources available for student use..... These facilities have been proven popular and efficacious to the learning process in the X Sudbury model schools established worldwide.

What is your teaching method?
    The teaching method is based on the Sudbury school model. Describe the basic tenets of the Sudbury learning model stressing the acquisition of skills needed to function in a democratic society, the responsibility of being an equal partner in the school's government, the iniative and innovation fostered in the children, the role of the adult learning mentors, and Sudbury program success stories.

    Make no bones about it. Assessment is the biggest thorniest issue. Assessment infers the assignment of grade levels and requirements and compulsory education at it's worst. However, where a regular Sudbury school has to deal with issues of financing and mandatory tuition as a necessary evil to keep it's doors open, a Sudbury charter school has to deal with the issue of assessment as a necessary evil to keep it's doors open. And in the same way that financing and expenditures are dealt with through the mechanism of a school government that is totally democratic- stressing freedom and responsibility of choice- and having these matters decided by a governing board of students and staff- the mechanisms of assessment will have to be dealt with in the same way. The ideal is to look at the minimum requirements of Florida law and to make provisions to fulfill those minimum requirements by allowing a student to choose when they are ready for a particular assessment- in the same way that students choose when they are ready for their thesis. These issues would have to be dealt with in a dialog between those families and teachers who form the founding core of the school and the local school board- but to the greatest extent possible- we would have to face these obstacles in the same way that we would have to face any other obstacle- keeping the voices and the choices of the students as a fundamental value.

But before we can begin, we need to find people in this area who want to start. And while I have found many people willing to dialog from other places- even people who want to be hired as consultants- this essential building block has not been established. However, maybe the ideas in these discussions may stimulate thinking on development of this idea in other areas. Can't stress enough that this is just an idea formulated from frustration with the educational system and inspired by nothing more than the Sudbury websites and posts in the past month on this list. It is just an idea in the beginning seedling stages, but would appreciate constructive viewpoints.

Don't have many qualifications for this kind of thing. Can contribute, but need someone else to pick up the ball and do the major time sink kind of thing. Have a master's degree in Psychology (formed from the basis of 7 years of full-time study with a 3.8 GPA- which should have given a PhD but didn't), then worked 17 years as a statistical consultant for a university research institute that focuses on policies and programs to promote mental health (which has given me some basic notions of program evaluation, service delivery systems, programs that work to eliminate mental health and substance abuse problems through the correction of injustices with these systems, and insights into public policy making). Now I'm working on a PhD in Criminology seeking to find ways to prevent domestic violence by changes in public policy- and finding that educational failure is a major risk factor and that quality education is a major resiliency factor in preventing criminal behavior in general- and homeschooling my son because he expressed concern that he couldn't make it without breaking, and I was afraid he was becoming a statistic and that homeschooling was the only intervention I could afford. When given the choice between having my child's gifts and talents expressed or forever lost to humanity, this was the only choice that I had- in my opinion and based on my own perceptions. Have access to people who care about intervention, who are masters of public policy formation and grantsmanship, but have pissed off everyone who cares about education with my radical attitudes. While sitting here trying to figure out how I can stay alive and just work/school 6 hours per day or less (right now this is 9 hours and not working), so that I have the energy to meet my family obligations while not chickening out on my future- this idea comes onto my plate. Just another thing to do on a plate already overextended. There are some raw ingredients but a lot are missing.

So if I piss you off with my views on assessment- just remember that I don't have a chance in h--- of getting this thing off the ground.

Mary Rose

----- Original Message -----
  Sent: Saturday, March 02, 2002 11:47 PM
  Subject: Re: DSM: Sudbury Charter Schools

  Dear Mary,

  Thank you for your post.

  My best understanding is that charter schools are funded by state legislatures. In doing so these legislatures give up on everything associated with education except results. They fund what they deem results. I believe the application and review process would pretty much go as follows:

  Do you ahve a curriculum?
  Well, what is your teaching method?
  -We don't have one.
  Would you be willing to pre-test the children?
  Would you be willing to post-test the children?
  Well, how do you plan to show results?
  -We don't. If there are any results, they are completely owned by the children themselves.
  Well, that's not education.
  -No it isn't, but it is a lot more useful to the child.

  Warm Regards,
  Bill Richardson


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