[Discuss-sudbury-model] SVS=Elite? AND Urban Students

From: Joe Jackson <shoeless_at_jazztbone.com>
Date: Mon Dec 2 21:50:01 2002

> i
> would hope that anyone who believes in the sudbury model for
> schooling would
> also recognize the importance of communities taking care of
> *all* their
> members, not just those who have already been privileged as
> part of the elite
> class in a global hegemony.


I don't know what a hegemony is, but we hear criticism of this theme all
of the time from folks who, like yourself, are apparently unaware that
our low tuition rates combined with our bifurcated Tuition Assistance
program make Sudbury schooling available for students across the
Washington DC area, absolutely without regard to their family's income

A few years ago, having given so much of my time, money and livelihood
in order to make Fairhaven available in the manner I describe, I might
have let a prejudice like this make me blue. But I have learned that in
this day of $15,000-per-year private schools, this perception is
something to be expected. The fact is that we are inevitably lumped in
with schools that honest-to-goodness try to cater to parents who don't
really know what elite is but want their kids to be it, and there's
honestly little to be done to counter this public perception in a
culture wherein all the bully pulpits belong to those who own and work
in the public schools.

(Never mind that our elected leaders mostly send their kids to these
"elitist" private schools; the political points are to made by
alternately beating on and pumping the public schools, and of course for
the triumverate of the Department of Ed, state and local boards of ed,
and the teaching lobby, public schools are the reason d'Ítre.)

So I'm sure not perturbed at you, Sonia, but help us out a little by
spreading the word that little community-built schools like Sudbury
Valley and Fairhaven don't aim to cater towards the any particular
group, much less the "elite". Or at least help us out by not attempting
to advance the (what I hope at this point is apparently delusive)
argument that public schools have a monopoly on caring about all of the
members of their community! :)

> i think urban public schools need a little
> more structure than sudbury offers

This I don't understand at all. Having done clinics across the country,
primarily in urban and suburban high schools, I feel I can say with
authority that the attitudes and cultures of inner city schools are
among the most misreported and misunderstood facts in the current sphere
of human experience.

I can think of no better prospects for the Sudbury Model than the highly
imaginative and socially-savvy students I have had the pleasure of
working with at schools in Southeast DC, South Central Los Angeles, East
St Louis and South Chicago. In my view, these student would take to
culture-building MUCH more quickly than some of the students I've worked
with in suburban and small town schools, and would derive the untold
benefits of removal of adult direction more immediately.

Adding structure would simply keep the *true* reins of power over self
just out of the reach of these students, confirming that it was just
another trick, and spoiling the culture just enough that it wouldn't

Unfortunately, the _parents_ of students in large cities are what have
proven to be the biggest obstacle to Sudbury Schools in big cities. We
have had a real heckuva time getting through to these parents in these
centers of 20th century industry that the idea that a single, narrowly
defined set of memorized facts is the key to their children's success is
THE big sucker scheme of the 20th century, and that by forcing down this
diet of trivia all they are doing is denying development of the fierce
imagination, curiosity and self-possession they ironically seek the

Very sad, but all we can do is be the best we can be for the families
who get it, and ensure that financial issues do not comprise one of the
excuses that parents can't get it.

Received on Mon Dec 02 2002 - 21:49:19 EST

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