[Discuss-sudbury-model] Re: Desperadoes

From: Tay Arrow Sherman <tay_at_anatomyofhope.net>
Date: Fri Apr 28 20:05:01 2006

Hi, Stuart--

I'm saddened to think that someone on this list would encourage anyone
from turning away or avoiding students such as myself from schools such
as the one it took me more than ten years to convince anyone I needed.
No wonder your "desperadoes" left and failed... I'd be uncomfortable at
best with any organisation that regarded me as a "problem" due to
circumstances in my life over which I had no control.

Cheers,
Tay Arrow Sherman, SVS alum, desperado class of 1996

On 28 Apr, 2006, at 11.16, Stuartwwms_at_aol.com wrote:

> Hi Erik,
>  
> This is Stuart Williams, a founder of Cedarwood Sudbury School in
> Santa Clara, CA (but no longer a Sudbury school staffer), responding
> to your post about starting a Sudbury school an hour's drive from
> Sudbury Valley School. While I am proud of starting a school and have
> the highest respect for those who pull it off (or even try), if I were
> in your position I would think twice about your plan. I know the
> driving time to SVS seems daunting, but starting a Sudbury school is
> daunting as well: I spent perhaps 3000 hours starting one, and others
> in our founders group contributed maybe 500-1000 hours more. Let's not
> even try to count the hours--mostly unpaid--spent keeping the school
> going once it opened!
>  
> Furthermore, the school you found will simply not be as good as
> Sudbury Valley School. The advantages of SVS over a small Sudbury
> school are numerous:
>  
>    --More choice of friends and activities.
>    --Established school culture.
>    --Experienced and highly qualified staff (the average staff tenure
> at Sudbury Valley is  maybe 20 years; at Cedarwood it averaged less
> than two).
>    --A lower percentage of "desperadoes" in the student population.
>  
> Regarding my last point, parents and students have various reasons to
> be attracted to the Sudbury model. One of them is desperation, because
> the child's experience in conventional school is so terrible.
> While many students who are enrolled out of desperation work out
> fine, a fairly high percentage do not. I think many parents would view
> enrolling their children in a small startup Sudbury school to be
> riskier proposition than enrolling them at SVS, and the ones most
> likely to take the leap will be the most desperate. A small startup
> school will allow most of these students to enroll, motivated by hope,
> idealism, lack of bitter experience, and a need to increase
> enrollments; also, schools often don't know what problems a student is
> bringing with them (and parents typically don't say).
>  
> If I listed the problems some of our students had, you might suspect
> that I founded an atypically dysfunctional school, or else conclude
> that small Sudbury schools are a bad idea. I don't think either is
> true. I'll let people from other Sudbury schools speak up to say that
> my comments about desperadoes aren't true, but I personally saw them
> wreck several schools (in cooperation with staff members who were too
> tolerant or out of touch).
>  
> As for whether small Sudbury schools are a good idea at all, I think
> they are the best option for a variety of students. Cedarwood
> served many of these students well. Generally, though, students left
> us after 1-3 years. They had many reasons for leaving, some better
> than others. My guess is that students at SVS stay there a lot longer
> than they did at Cedarwood, which I think is a good measure for how
> good the schools are meeting their students' needs.
>  
> Take care,
>  
> Stuart
-Tay

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Received on Fri Apr 28 2006 - 20:04:47 EDT

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