Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] socioeconomic status of staff

From: Jeff Collins <jcollins_at_bestweb.net>
Date: Fri Oct 31 10:00:00 2003

Jesse Gallagher wrote:

> **
>
> Even existing Sudbury schools could adopt a more flexible attitude to
> finances to make themselves available to more students.
>
Some Sudbury schools do have a more flexible tuition policy. In our
school (Hudson Valley Sudbury School), we have the policy that we will
not turn away any student due to inability to pay the full tuition. We
will work with families that can't pay the full tuition to determine
what they can pay. Other schools have financial assistance policies and
I think some have sliding scales for tuition. There is even one Sudbury
school that is publicly funded.

> When I last looked in to my local Sudbury school they had an
> enrollment just over 10 and they had very limited facilities
> available. Not very surprising for a startup school, but when
> contrasted with the active homeschooling group we have--between 12-18
> kids getting together 2-3 times each week--the numbers didn't add up.
>
One of the reasons that we decided to be flexible in our tuition policy
is to attract a larger student body. From what I have seen in our
enrollment, the best source of new enrollments is existing enrollments.
kids attract kids...

> I don't mean to bash the Sudbury model here. I am glad that Sudbury
> schools exist at all, and that they provide an example of what
> education could and should be. I would simply like to find a way to
> make them available to larger numbers, and re-assessing the financial
> workings of the schools seems to be the first order of business.
>
I don't believe that the Sudbury educational model has anything to say
about a tuition policy. Having said that, I acknowledge that we could
be very wrong about having a flexible tuition policy. It may well be
the case that the act of raising and paying the full tuition is the most
powerful part of being enrolled in a Sudbury school for some families.

I have talked to Dan Greenberg about our tuition policy and I know he
does not agree it. Frankly, I respect Dan's opinions too much to feel
totally at ease when I disagree with them. There are a lot of very
subtle inter-relationships in the Sudbury model as practiced by SVS that
I know I have yet to understand. It may well be the case that a long
term successful school can not have a flexible tuition policy.

The bottom line for me and our school right now is that I know a Sudbury
school can't thrive and grow with a tiny enrollment, so we are willing
to experiment and take the risk that our tuition policy will eventually
back-fire in order to quickly increase our enrollment.

> It doesn't make sense to me that the finest model of education
> available to Americans can't support large and vibrant student bodies,
> and can barely support the exceptional men and women who staff the
> schools. There must be a better way...
>
I think what you are seeing is not a problem in the model, but the
simple fact that most Sudbury schools are still very young. Most
Sudbury schools are still in their start-up period (meaning the period
of time between the start of a business and the time it reaches
financial stability).

> Peace, and apologies to any I may have offended with my frankness,
>
> Jesse
>
Jeff
Received on Fri Oct 31 2003 - 09:59:12 EST

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