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

From: Amanda Phillips <amanda42_at_rcn.com>
Date: Wed Dec 4 23:54:01 2002

Elizabeth,

It's as simple as supply and demand. A lot of people, just like you, would
*love* to work in an environment like SVS. When there is a huge supply of
labor, and limited demand (meaning limited number of open positions), the
market price for that labor will drop as sure as the sun rises every
morning.

Your bitterness about this is baffling.

If there's one thing that most people learn from SVS, it would probably be
something like personal responsibility & perhaps that anything you want in
life is yours if you just figure out how to get it and then go for it. No
one forced you to go to Harvard and rack up debt. That was *your* decision,
and you are now feeling the consequences of that decision. That is a matter
of personal responsibility, and has nothing to do with SVS.

Three friends of mine have been staff members at Sudbury schools in
California and Maui. Two of them were dirt poor, and one of them used to be
dirt poor but worked his way out of it. They did it because they believed in
the idea. Like many of us, they thought, "Now, why couldn't *I* have gone to
a school like this?!?" And they worked for next to nothing because they
loved the idea so much.

The best job I've ever had was teaching. I loved it. Still do. But I only
teach part-time because I'm a single mom with a girl to raise all on my own.
So my day job is manager of 5 accountants. It pays the bills, and also my
daughter's tuition. I have a choice every day to either 1) do what I love
for a pay cut or 2) do what I only like for a better salary. I freely and
willingly choose #2, and I don't blame or resent anyone else for that
decision.

Then again, I'm a high school dropout with no debt. I deliberately chose not
to become an indentured servant just to obtain an impressive piece of paper
that says I know lots of things. I'm perfectly comfortable knowing lots of
things without any pieces of paper to tell me that I do. But that is a
personal decision that we all must make for ourselves, and then we must live
with the consequences of those decisions.

Amanda
http://amanda42.livejournal.com

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org
> [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org]On Behalf Of Elizabeth
> Marrin
> Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 10:56 AM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] SVS=Elite? AND Urban Students
>
>
> Jamie,
>
> I graduated from harvard grad school of education with lots of
> debt now to repay. Unlike you, I don't have a husband to
> support me. (I am really sorry to hear that your situation is
> worsening... Keep hope alive...)
>
> So I can't just work for free.
>
> What I can offer Sudbury is 100% of my life energy, my
> over-educated mind, and my tremendous life experience - and as
> most in our society believe - I should be compensated with a
> decent living wage. I refuse to die for this cause if I don't
> have to. Why should I be forced to make extreme sacrifices for
> it? I have already sacrificed a tremendous amount to be in this
> moment right now.
>
> Just getting to the point of realizing that SVS is a great
> concept means that you have made sacrifices in your own life.
> Why, if SVS didn't exist, we all would have made it up ourselves
> anyway.
>
> Then, to offer my life energy to become a staff --- that is a
> gift, a tremendous opportunity for everyone... to give what I
> have. To support. To care. To guide. To witness curious
> learning. To see genuine struggle for personal development.
> This entire experience is magical and spiritual and it is a
> great life's work to be devoted to the next generation. To make
> up for what I hadn't received in the public system. To make
> sure that their development is better than mine.... This is very
> good work, indeed.
>
> But nothing should be *too* important to work as if you had no
> job at all. Get yourself paid, girl. As the last poster (Mike
> Sadofsky) said, SVS has no provisions for this. You don't need
> to march your family into economic ruin.
>
> "There is NOT any requirement that staff work without
> compensation or with little pay until they become part of the
> scenery. In fact, there is no provision for such voluntary
> "staff" presence at SVS." -Mike Sadofsky
>
> I disagree with you when you say that "all of the unpaid staff
> at Sudbury schools are from those that have just opened." It
> isn't that unpaid staff are at those schools that have just
> opened; I think it is probably that unpaid staff cannot stay on
> the job because they aren't being paid - they just don't remain
> part of the system - who can under those circumstances? At some
> point in the near future, you might have to give up your job for
> the sake of your family. Who but the elite can survive
> circumstances like these?
>
> Besides, the only ones that really remain at startups are there
> for entirely different reasons: seeing a startup school into
> completion. That is not really what SVS is about, is it? SVS
> is about democratic experiences, and the kids' learning
> environments --- SVS is not about startups even though in order
> for the concept to spread, startups have to exist. Here's my
> situation: I live in the Boston area and have made multiple
> inquiries to work at the original Framingham SVS, only to be
> told that I'd have to work without pay a few days a week. I
> don't have the *luxury* to work for free. And so all this makes
> me wonder: who does?!??!
>
> Perhaps Mike Sadofsky can help explain why you need to work for
> free, because I don't think you do, Jamie. You are obviously
> passionate about your work and should deserve an honest
> compensation for it.
>
> Elizabeth
>
>
>
> --- Jamie Darr-Hall <jamiedarrhall_at_houston.rr.com> wrote:
> > As a staff member that is working without pay I can't wait to
> > tell my
> > husband that we are "elite". I quit my job to staff the
> > school. My family is
> > living pay check to pay check and my husband is about to be
> > laid off. But
> > the school is to important to my family. The fact that my
> > children will
> > NEVER be told that they can't go to the bathroom or play
> > outside is more
> > important than money. All of the unpaid staff at Sudbury
> > schools are from
> > those that have just opened. We didn't work this hard for
> > money we did it
> > for our kids. And yes I hope to get paid someday.
> >
> > Jamie
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org
> > [mailto:discuss-sudbury-model-admin_at_sudval.org]On Behalf Of
> > Elizabeth
> > Marrin
> > Sent: Tuesday, December 03, 2002 7:36 AM
> > To: discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org
> > Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] SVS=Elite? AND Urban
> > Students
> >
> >
> > Joe,
> >
> > But SVS will still remain the ultimate elite school when
> > *staff*
> > are of a certain type of class that can work without pay or
> > with
> > little pay. Sudbury requires that new staff work without pay
> > or
> > with little pay for an unspecified amount of time until they
> > become part of the scenery. It is simply impossible to just
> > start working for Sudbury if you get out of college and want
> > to
> > work there, or if you've learned much on the road of life (and
> > need a job to live).
> >
> > Until Sudbury has a proven mechanism to change this really bad
> > rule, the students will be raised in an elite system where
> > tacit
> > messages/guidance come from the elite staff.
> >
> > It will stop being elite when it becomes a "public" democratic
> > system in every which way, even for the staff.
> >
> > Elizabeth
> >
> >
> > --- Joe Jackson <shoeless_at_jazztbone.com> wrote:
> > > > 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.
> > >
> > > Sonia,
> > >
> > > 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
> > > level.
> > >
> > > 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'jtre.)
> > >
> > > 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
> > > work.
> > >
> > > 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
> > > most.
> > >
> > > 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.
> > >
> > > -joe
> > >
> > > _______________________________________________
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Received on Wed Dec 04 2002 - 23:53:56 EST

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