RE: [Discuss-sudbury-model] Is there such a thing as a semi-democratic school ?

From: Alan Klein <>
Date: Sun Jun 20 10:32:00 2004

You have provided us with an excellent set of vignettes that share the
wonder that is a democratically run school well.
You also prove Jerry's point that there is nothing that is 100%
* You refer to some things that need to be approved by the
Assembly, which means that the SM does not have 100% control.
* You mention that YOU didn't have to say "You can not make that
motion", which implies that there are some motions that are outside the
bounds of what the SM can do.
That said, I think we are all in what some call "violent agreement"! Our
schools are truly places at which all members can exercise their
democratic rights and responsibilities. However, since we are all
embedded into a larger system, there are some ways in which our
democracy is curtailed. This is not a put-down of our schools, it is
simply a bow to reality.
In addition, what I take from Jerry's assertion is that sometimes we
waste a lot of time bickering with each other and with potential allies
by engaging in pissing contests over whose democracy is "democraciest"
and whose democracy is really un-democratic.
~Alan Klein
-----Original Message-----
From: Brian King
Here is my 2 cents. Big Rock Sudbury in the California North Bay area is
100% democratic. The kids have tested it and we passed.
Some examples over the past year:
Students (truly school meeting members which include students and staff,
however, staff are out numbered 8 to 1 so I tend to say students)
established our rule book. It took about three weeks, and a lot of long
meetings, but they were up to the task. The rule book is a living
document being changed by School Meeting (SM) as the need arises.
The students set what holidays we were to observe. Outcome -- school was
open for some national holidays but we took off for a week for both
presidents day and thanksgiving. It worked out quite well.
Students closed school for a camping trip. Outcome -- A great time was
had by all, and it gives the kids more evidence that it is their school.
A student moved to close school on Halloween but not a single student
wanted to do that. The motion died with out a second. A 14 year old boy
said "Why would you want to be at home when you could be here?" Outcome
-- we had one of the best parties of the year.
Some girls (mostly 10 and 11 year olds) wanted to use our storage shed
as a news paper office (in fact a girls club house). Even though the
boys out number the girls, the girls come to the school meeting in much
larger numbers. Outcome -- I am now looking for an other storage shed
and the girls have something that they are proud of. Some of the boys
were unhappy, however, there are now more boys at the school meetings.
Students felt that ending the school year on a Tuesday was dumb, so we
closed school two days early. Outcome I presented it to the Assembly
meeting because the number of contracted days is a Assembly issue. The
Assembly ratified the change for this year.
In an attempt to lighten up the School Meetings one of the staff, from
time to time, would talk like a duck. One of the 10 year old girls took
offence to this seemingly unprofessional behavior and passed a motion
that talking like a duck was banned. Outcome -- It gave the kids more
evidence that what they had to say was important, and that
professionalism was respected my the majority.
At our school meeting, over the past year, I never had to say "You can
not make that motion". It did get said at an assembly meeting when
adults were trying to make a school rule.
The students are protective of the school and the outcome of the SM and
JC have proved it to me. It is very cool to see preadolescent and
adolescent boys and girls developing such good parliamentary procedure
skills, calling for the question, calling for division of the house,
point of order, etc. I never hear anyone say "I motion that..." It is
always properly said "I move that..." The students are comfortable in
telling a staff person that "You are out of order"
I challenge any one reading this to go to some other meetings run by
kids. Go to a FFA, FBLA, or 4H meetings. Go to a number of different
local meetings some are great and some are poor. You will be able to
tell where the students know they truly have a say in how their
organization is run. It is reflected in how they run the meeting as
apposed to when they know that the adults truly run the organization.
It is inspiring to see how much better kids can govern themselves when
they have the tools and the trust.
A great staff person will encourage, give advise when the need arises,
and let the kids make mistakes. Those things that we adults may see as
mistakes may not be, and those that truly are mistakes will most likely
help the students and the organization grow by having the students work
them out.
The following are some great tools for helping the kids with
parliamentary procedure MS-Word
0/111/111.doc> / PowerPoint(1)
hip/520/522/522.ppt> (2)
hip/520/525/525.ppt> (3)
                If the above links do not work, the urlis
                pagedown to (520) Parliamentary Procedure -- thisstuff
is made by FFA advisors to be usedwith theirstudents.
                I find the following document much more useful
thenRoberts Rules of Order.
2/ref=pd_ka_2/102-8686722-5358564> TheStandard Code of Parliamentary
Procedure, 4th Edition-- by AmericanInstitute of Parliamentarians, Alice
Sturgis; Paperback
Received on Sun Jun 20 2004 - 10:31:16 EDT

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