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

From: <>
Date: Sun Jun 20 11:38:00 2004

So, you said it yourself: The meeting is not always democratically
controlled. In the "number of days" issue they had to go to the assembly, which happened
to agree with them, but might not have. Furthermore, the state law usually
dictates the minimum number of days a school has to meet to be legal. That is
not subject to change by a democratic meeting. So, when the studens have
decisions to make they make good decisions. That's great. Most of us have seen that.
Personally I trust the meeting to make good decisions. But that still doesn't
mean that the meeting can make 100 % of decisions about the school. That was
my point. By the way, your school sounds great.


In a message dated 6/20/04 7:34:29 AM, writes:

<< Hi All,
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

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

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 / PowerPoint (1) (2) (3)
If the above links do not work, the url is
page down to (520) Parliamentary Procedure -- this stuff is made by FFA
advisors to be used with their students.

I find the following document much more useful then Roberts Rules of Order.

The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th Edition -- by American
Institute of Parliamentarians, Alice Sturgis; Paperback

Brian D King
Big Rock Sudbury School >>
Received on Sun Jun 20 2004 - 11:37:16 EDT

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