Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Hypothetical Question Re. Commestibles in Sudbury Schools

From: Ardeshir Mehta <>
Date: Fri Oct 31 18:48:00 2003

On Friday, October 31, 2003, at 01:50 PM, Mike Sadofsky wrote:

> On Fri, 31 Oct 2003 12:55:04 -0500, Ardeshir Mehta
> <> wrote:
>> On Friday, October 31, 2003, at 07:26 AM, Alan Klein wrote:
>>> As a start, the schools of which I am aware incorporate national,
>>> state, and local laws into their Rule Book by reference.
>> But is the text of the Rule Book decided upon democratically or
>> autocratically? If the latter, it would seem to undermine claims of
>> democratic structure of the school(s)!
>>> Other than that, any School Meeting could ban particular (otherwise
>>> legal) substances from the school.
>> But could the School Meeting also *permit* otherwise *illegal*
>> substances? As for instance was apparently the case at Summerhill
>> with tobacco and alcohol?
>> Cheers,
>> Ardeshir <>
> What am I missing here?
> How can a Sudbury School (any institution) operating within a
> political subdivision (country, state or province, city or town or
> county) decide that it will pick and choose the laws it will accept or
> reject and still retain viability within its community?

Are you saying *all* laws should be obeyed - even those not
democratically enacted?

> The fact that Sudbury Schools provide enrollees with personal freedom
> (within the law and the democratically established rules of the
> school) and the opportunity to participate in democratic governance of
> the school, already puts the school at the edge of "community norms."
> To condone explicitly "illegal" activities could do nothing more than
> ensure that Sudbury Schools would NOT exist.

The following is a true story, at least in its basics. Many people know
it. Maybe you do too. But bear with me.

Henry David Thoreau refused to pay his taxes. He was against a war the
USA was involved in at the time. He felt it was immoral. He argued that
paying his taxes to the US government would mean that he would be
indirectly supporting the immoral war. He was put in jail for not
paying his taxes. Ralph Waldo Emerson saw him through the jail window,
and surprised, asked him: "Henry, what are you doing in jail?" Thoreau
asked in reply: "Waldo, what are *you* doing *outside* it?"

If I may put it this way: the question is, is Sudbury a democracy, or
is it not. If it is, it is not its right to reject imposition on it of
any laws undemocratically made? Or even if democratically made,
unconstitutionally (using that word in its broadest sense, and
applicable to *any* country or nation, IOW "inconsistent with the
principles of fundamental justice")?

Would Sudbury have supported, or hindered, for instance, a staff member
dodging the Vietnam draft? Would a Sudbury school in Alabama in the
fifties have supported, or hindered, a black student enrolling in the
school? Would a Sudbury school in the U.S.A. - as it is today - support
a Muslim student or staff member arrested under the present
P.A.T.R.I.O.T Act, even if it meant the closure of the school, or would
it turn its back on him/her? Would a Sudbury school in Israel support a
staff member who refused to serve his *miluim* (army reserves service)
every year in the Israeli Army, as all citizens are required to do,
because he/she considers it immoral to obey all orders issued by the
Israeli Army?

> One of the factors that enrollees (and staff) must consider when rules
> are made in the democratic process, is how their decisions will be
> viewed by the larger community. I guess they could vote to create
> serious problems for the school, but would they do so? I've not seen
> or heard of it happening yet.

Maybe not yet. But it COULD happen. Right?

It's a *hypothetical* question, of course.

Ardeshir <>
Received on Fri Oct 31 2003 - 17:08:04 EST

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