Re: DSM: People measurers

Joe Jackson (shoeless@erols.com)
Tue, 26 May 1998 02:21:24 -0400

Teresa,

> or maybe a combination. If 90% of SVS graduates can read at level A,
> and only 80% of public school grads (of the same demographics) can read
> at level A, that would certainly have meaning.

I don't think it would have meaning, but I'm not going to clog up this
listserve by giving you all the mathematical and statistical reasons why it
wouldn't.

Suffice it to say that SVS would not allow the reading level of any of its
students to be assessed unless the assessmant was voluntary, in which case
the sample population would be self-selecting, which I hope you would agree
would automatically eliminate any scientific meaning.

> I'm not talking about tests so much as subjective information,
> or maybe a combination.

?!? I thought you said that soft data like case studies was out. BTW
mandatory testing is not keeping with the Sudbury Model so ixnay on "a
combination". Are you advocating that a Sudbury School dabble in the
dubious practice of the hard statistical measurement of human beings or
not? If not, than are you for the even more questionable practice of taking
soft measurements (like assessments, case studies, and anecdotal testing)
and presenting them to the public as statistics? If not, then I refer you
to case studies extolled in _Free At Last_ and _The Sudbury Valley School
Experience_, available at http://www.sudval.org/ .

> If everyone here was so absolutely positive that this type of schooling
> is really better than traditional schools, then I don't understand the
> distain for third party assessments.

I think the concept of "assessment" is the turnoff, Teresa. It reeks of
everything that the Sudbury Model seeks to provide answers to. I think I'm
on pretty safe ground that having an agency come in and "assess" our
students is outside the model.

> Frankly, I think is it extremely
> unrealistic to expect the rest of the world to make a radical switch in
> schooling styles based only on 'faith.'

I don't think I expect the world to do anything. I do, however, think that
I'm not interested in shoving a bunch of pseudo-scientific numbers in
people's faces just because "everyone's doing it".

We're not trying to bring in the type of parent who's obsessed with
results-based numbers.

> At least in the U.S., we are
> surrounded by companies, politicians and charities all calling on us to
> have faith in their product. Later we find out that the information we
> were given was one sided, or perhaps a charity spent 75% of it's
> donations on phone solicitations. That's just real life. SVS proponents
> must learn to navigate this environment of skepticism by providing solid
> facts and third party evidence which support it's belief, not simply
> telling people to 'have faith.'

Let's once more refocus this conversation: You expect the a School Meeting,
a democratic group consisting of students and staff, to mount a PR campaign
based on having every student assessed by a third-party agency for
reading, math, special interests, and learning disabilities, have them
register on the self-esteem-o-meter, and then track every single graduate
to see if and where they went to college, and what they do for a living?
You call me unrealistic?

I hope I'm making the point that the kind of insanity private and
government-run tax-funded schools inflict upon their students, no sane
empowered child would inflict upon themselves, marketing benefits
notwithstanding. Any school that would do this is, by definition, not a
Sudbury School.

I really don't think that our school has to capitulate to the consumer
culture in order to be successful. In fact, I know it doesn't. You seem to
say we can't tell people to "have faith". That's just your euphamism for
what we call "trusting your child"; in fact, if in an enrollment interview
it is revealed that a parent will not trust his or her child to learn what
they need to learn, that student will most likely not be accepted for
enrollment at the Fairhaven School. You may call that poor marketing. We
call it integrity.

> This mindset and fear of third party reviews will hold back the
> popularity of the schools.

Fear? Who said anything about fear? I'm starting a Sudbury School in
Maryland; building the building with my hands; donating thousands of
dollars and thousands of hours, not getting paid a cent. Is it OK with you
if I simply think you're wrong without you attributing my opinion to fear?

What will hold back Sudbury Schools is sacrificing the quality of the
school environment in the name of marketing. What will hold back Sudbury
Schools is allowing some adults' needs for quantification and what they see
as objective results to sway the model's unflinching commitment to that
which is the will of the student. What will hold us back is pandering to
the public to get big enrollment at the cost of a student body consisting
of
families that made more deliberative and intelligent enrollment decisions.

The Sudbury Model is not about reform, it's about revolution, and revolt we
will, Teresa, without the help of the consumer-education culture.

-Joe Jackson
shoeless@erols.com