Re: A meeting on diversity in svs-model schools

David Barulich (barulich@earthlink.net)
Tue, 3 Sep 1996 14:35:36 -0700 (PDT)

Why is "diversity" such a controversial issue? Here goes my pop psychology
analysis of the discussants.

It all goes back to the myth of the ONE BEST SCHOOL SYSTEM (OBSS). I've
noticed that many (certainly not all) SVS boosters believe that the SVS
model is the only child-friendly approach to education that should be
tolerated. They believe that traditional schooling is anti-child and
injurious to the development of children. To them SVS, Summerhill, John
Holt, etc. methods represent that OBSS.

However, if the clientel of these educational programs is predominantly
white, middle and upper class parents, then the OBSS boosters face a
dilemma. If SVS really is the OBSS, then people of all races and income
groups should "want" it. If they don't, then that must mean: 1. SVS isn't
the OBSS; or 2. they're just ignorant of its benefits or can't afford to
attend and so they must be recruited.

If you reject the myth of the OBSS, then you don't suffer from concerns
about the racial and income makeup of a school. It's pretty natural to
expect self segregation based on values and cultural beliefs.

I know many Asian immigrant families who think the SVS model is crazy when I
explained it to them. Their philosophy of child rearing and respect for
traditions of elders doesn't mesh with the SVS philosophy. Whose problem is
that? Is it even a problem?

I say "vive le diference." Let the actions of our children do the talking,
even if most of them will be white, upper class kids with libertarian,
ex-hippie, vegetarian parents driving Volvo station wagons. In the future,
when people remark, "Wow, you've got great kids doing wonderful things.
Where did they go to school?" then you'll get more diversity. For now, be
resigned to the fact that you're not going to get much racial and income
diversity.

In the meantime, I urge the disucssants to examine themselves and really
ask, Why is diversity such an important issue? I'll bet it all comes back
to our old nemesis the OBSS.