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

From: Kenneth Winchenbach Walden <kenhww_at_meadowdance.org>
Date: Wed Dec 4 19:26:01 2002

HI there Elizabeth,

On 4 Dec 2002 at 13:48, Elizabeth Marrin wrote:

> I could write a book but if I just spout about my own life, that
> isn't enough. Having a Harvard degree gives me credibility with
> the academic circles. I know what the research says is
> psychologically healthy for development. And regular public
> schools are not always healthy.
>
> I just wish someone like me could work at SVS. The next
> generation of education reformers have chances to go through
> academic channels because of programs like the Risk and
> Prevention master's program at Harvard
> (gseweb.harvard.edu/rp/index.html)
>
> We will exit our education with higher education debt, thinking
> that we are now credible on both sides of the fence...
>
> Then, real change can happen with public schools. SVS is pretty
> good and all that, but isn't it time to make this kind of thing
> accessible to all? Having staff who have both life experience
> and an educational understanding about human nature (i.e.,
> learning, curiosity, and life success) is only a benefit to all
> involved.

It sounds like your passion is not for working at SVS, but revolutionizing the public
school system. For you and for people with backgrounds like you to be able to start
making real changes in our public schools. How would working as staff at SVS
accomplish that?

> Joe, you still have not gotten my point. I am poor. No bank
> account. All debt. And lots of debt. And this is not a
> *temporary* state.
>
> It is a privilege to be "temporarily" poor. SVS depends on that
> privilege of kind folk who can be temporarily poor.

> I have experienced failure, found my calling, became credible
> via educational routes, and now have no more opportunities to
> "go for broke" in a startup radical educational institution.
> I also just turned 30 and would like to start a family of my
> own. I cannot see this all happening in my lifetime and I am
> disappointed that SVS would not have thought of the very poor
> but very capable person to be a staff.

I would like to point out a distinction here - I feel there is a real difference between
someone who is "poor", and someone who is saddled with large debt due to choices
that they have made. Equating people with no money, no resources, and no
marketable skills with those who have an advanced college degree and large amount
of student loans is throwing together apples and oranges I believe. ANd it does a
disservice to people who are poor through no choice of their own. In most of the
world the word "privileged" is equated with someone who has had the opportunity to
achieve a high degree of formal academic success. That is for a reason - many,
many more opportunities in the workplace are made available to them.

I also believe you are exaggerating the burden of high debt. Volunteering one day a
week at SVS leaves six days a week available for doing paying work. And debt
collectors are all too willing to collect what they can from someone rather than allow
them to go into default due to lack of funds. I don't know what would be stopping you
from moving to Framingham, working six days a week, paying what you can on your
debt, volunteering at SVS, and starting a family. Or some such plan.

I have lived with school debt, as have lots of others. I have known many people who
have lived with large other debts as well, and been able to pursue things meaningful
to them while getting out from under them. I myself have avoided going into debt
(other than my wife's school loans), because I wanted to be able to pursue goals that
were important to me that would not have been compatible with having to pay a large
debt. There are many different routes to take, and choices to make.

Ken Walden

"In the end no one will sell you what you need.
You can't buy it off the shelf,
You got to grow it from the seed."
Chris Smither
Received on Wed Dec 04 2002 - 19:25:27 EST

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