RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: child happy in public school

From: Joe Jackson <>
Date: Mon Sep 22 11:10:01 2003

Jeff Collins and the Hudson Valley people are absolutely extraordinary
people. If your family is interested in trying on a Sudbury school and
you know exactly what you are getting into, I HIGHLY recommend you go
for it with them.
Please let us know how it goes, yea or nay. Good luck.

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Heidi
Sent: Monday, September 22, 2003 10:51 AM
Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: child happy in public school

My daughter is in kindergarden at a small public school (60 students K-6
grade) and is happy to be there. She knows about the concept of
democratic schools and says she would be interested in it later when she
is 8. I have been studying the democratic concept for a while and even
visited with Jeff Collins in Woodstock,NY who is in the process of
starting a school with the idea of Ariel attending and me applying to be
on staff. My thoughts are visit the Hudson Valley Sudbury School in the
spring for a week when it is open so both Ariel and I can experience it
first hand and see what Ariel thinks after that. Any thoughts on this
out there?
Heidi Fogden

Joe Jackson <> wrote:


In our school, the School Meeting would be the body to decide that such
a thing like chores is necessary, and appoint a person/persons who would
see to it that the action is carried out.

Then the person/persons responsible for seeing to it that chores are
carried out well and completely would act in the best interest of it

While I would argue in School Meeting that it is a rather significant
"problem" that the chores are not being completed on time or at all, I
do not believe in our school that the issue needs to get to School
Meeting at all. It is up to the person/persons who are clerking the
process to design it so it works.

And then I told you my "design" suggestion; I'm sure there are many
other ways to address it. I'm not sure if you have a tool such as JC to
allow the community to present the op! portunity for students to come
directly face-to-face with their behavior as it has impacted the school.
It works well for us.

By the way, I heard you in another post expressing your staff's desire
to combat the perceptions of students (in such a young culture) that the
staff is "really in charge" or that "this is some kind of joke, and just
when you think you have power we're gonna GET YOU!!!". I want you to
know that this is really admirable and I acknowledge you for being in
tune with this.

But I invite you to try on the concept that this prejudice about schools
and the role of adults in their lives is *their* story, and only *they*
can stop listening to the interpretation they are operating with.

Whether these "stories" are historically correct or not is irrelevent -
they can only learn to live in the here and now based on what's REALLY
going on if the culture is incredibly, extraordinarily AUTHENTIC.

Where I am leading! is that in our school, we say students are 100% the
equal of adults in the operation and ownership of the school. The
EQUAL, not MORE powerful, or LESS powerful - the equal. And our school
is only as good as the integrity of our word.

So that is why in our school staff do such a wonderful job of expressing
and leading and following and *being a culture* with our students -
because that statement, "A school run democratically by students and
adults" is SO powerful, but it is only powerful if our words have
integrity. And if staff back off and try to become less than *equal*
members of the culture, we are not standing true to ourselves.

I hope this sheds some light on how we do things, of course there are
many, many ways to do it and I am certain that your culture will find a
way and be wonderful.


Joe Jackson, Parent
Fairhaven School

> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of terri
> Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 5:41 PM
> To:
> Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Advice
> >>My one suggestion is that I would advise the chores or cleanup clerk
> to set a deadline by which cleanup *must be done*, instead of
> stating when it will *start*.<<
> I agree that something like this would help, but is it our
> place to *advise*at this point since no *problem* has even
> been recognized by the school meeting. And since no parent
> has scheduled a conference at this point, we really have no
> part in this, correct?
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> [] On Behalf Of
> Joe Jackson
> Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2003 8:41 AM
> To:
> Subject: RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Advice
> Hi, Terri.
> You mention that you are operating as a democratic school but
> you did not mention if you are structuring the school and the
> staff duties according to Sudbury - which is no problem, I
> just want to qualify my answer as coming from my direction,
> which has been heavily influenced by what I think should
> happen in the model.
> You are completely correct that it has nothing to do with Staff.
> If School Meeting decided everyone will clean up, it is then
> each individual's responsibility. If a parent complains to
> students, it is between the parent and the student. If a
> parent complains to a staff, offer to schedule a conference.
> At our school you cannot have more! than a cursory/light
> conversation about a student without them present.
> The meat of the conference should be to respond to the
> parent's complaint by saying, "School Meeting determined that
> each student will complete their chore by 3:20 (or whatever).
> I have noticed that X has had trouble meeting the deadline,
> and has had to go to JC a couple of times." Firmly put the
> transaction between school meeting and the student. when the
> parent says, "well haven't YOU da da da?" you need to steer
> it back (because the person is expecting you to respond as a
> typical adult-run school) by harping on the fact that School
> Meeting says yada yada and JC yada yada and I am concerned
> but I know s/he can do it".
> My one suggestion is that I would advise the chores or
> cleanup clerk to set a deadline by which cleanup *must be
> done*, instead of stating when ! it will *start*.
> Then if students have not completed their responsibility by
> the deadline, they can get written up and let JC deal with
> it. The writeups can happen as strict or as loosey-goosey as
> you want (e.g. write everyone up who has not completed the
> tasks they signed up for the
> *instant* the deadline passes, versus walk aroud and remind
> certain folks five minutes before the deadline, and let the
> "real" deadline slide 'till about 3:30). But loosey-goosey
> is not the way I would go.
> This way you are allowing the student/staff-run structures of
> the school to deal with it rather than interceding and
> furthering any perception that the whole democratic thing is
> a joke and that the staff are actually responsible for the students.
> Most parents will probably understand that it is entirely the
> student's responsibility. Those that d! on't and are not
> willing to learn or suspend disbelief do not belong there.
> Good luck,
> Joe Jackson
> Parent
> Fairhaven School
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Received on Mon Sep 22 2003 - 11:09:01 EDT

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