Re: DSM: Interest increasing?


Bruce Smith (bsmith@coin.org)
Sat, 6 Jan 2001 11:40:39 -0700


> What I meant is, what's the smallest town/city that has a SVS-model
>school, including commuting-distance population?

I'm not sure, but you might contact the Evergreen School in Maine, as well
as consult the book _Starting a Sudbury School_. That study found little,
if any, correlation between the size of an area and its ability to sustain
a Sudbury school.

> She said for example, Sudbury is not parent-participatory at all and in
>Oregon, they prefer to
>have the parents participate.

Such a blanket statement bothers me. The SVM does uphold the importance of
the school as the students' place, where they can make their own choices
free from concern that their parents will find out about those choices and
direct or discourage them. That principle, in turn, does require a
hands-off approach on the part of parents when it comes to day-to-day
happenings at school.

But at Alpine Valley, for example, parents are welcome to hang out for a
while during drop-off and pick-up times, and are certainly able to visit
the school during the day (with School Meeting approval). In addition, our
school has a very active parent-staff discussion group, which functions as
a valuable support group, meeting monthly to discuss parental concerns
(balancing parents' need to understand the school with students' right to
privacy).

And let's not overlook the significance of parental involvement in the
Assembly, setting general policy for the school. Our parents are members of
the Diploma Committee, were members of our Site and Renovation Committees,
and help out extensively with PR.

So yes, there is a line at which parent participation stops, but I hope you
see that there is a well-thought-out reason for this, and that within this
policy, there is room for considerable parent involvement.

> She also commented that the JC of the Sudbury Model is harsh. In her
>school they do some sort of problem solving between concerned parties and
>only if there isn't a good faith effort with this problem solving, then they
>go the JC route.

I think many people have concerns with JC, that it doesn't emphasize
mediation, or isn't nice or touchy-feely enough. I would point out that
many of our schools do have mediation, and that we all practice all sorts
of problem-solving prior to taking something to JC. While some may still
view JC as harsh, I see it as an appropriately impersonal approach. As with
School Meeting, formality helps ensure that emotion and other pressures
don't impede the process of dealing fairly with the issue at hand. As with
other methods of conflict resolution, JC does respect everyone's right to
be heard and involves several people in the search for resolution.

Bruce



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