Alternative Education News Page


From Joan Jaeckel 2/28/02

Hello dear people,
I found these stories on the Sudbury Valley School and the Supreme Court & vouchers articles in the Public Education Network (PEN) e-newsletter:
Public Education Network
601 Thirteenth Street, NW #900N
Washington, DC 20005
202-628-1893 fax
It is hard to believe there is a school with no grades, no tests, no
homework, no curriculum, and no teachers. There also is no schedule. As
long as students spend five hours a day at school, they can show up when
they want. And while they're there, they can do what they choose. It may
appear unusual for parents to pay $4,750 a year to send their children to
a private school where those in charge apparently have no idea what's
going on. But that is precisely the point: It is the child's job--not the
adult's--to initiate learning. And even what constitutes worthwhile
learning is up to the child, based on the belief that children will seek
out information they need.
Since 1995, Ohio has offered Cleveland parents vouchers, or scholarships,
of $2,500 per child per year if they choose to send their children to
private or parochial schools. Supporters say this program gives
disadvantaged children a chance to escape Cleveland's failing public
schools. Critics say it mostly subsidizes parents who were already sending
their children to parochial schools. Nearly 4,000 students are receiving
state vouchers in Cleveland. In reality, the Cleveland program has offered
parents fewer choices than its backers had envisioned. The suburban
schools refused to open their doors to transfers from the city, and
exclusive private schools were not interested in taking on students who
could pay only $2,500. As a result, nearly all the Cleveland students who
take advantage of the state voucher--99% in the most recent tally--go to
religious schools. This week the Supreme Court took up the question of
state vouchers that pay for children to attend church-related schools--not
to decide whether this is good education policy but to rule on whether
this use of tax money violates the Constitution's ban on "an establishment
of religion."
(((A comment -- inviting your comment -- on the red sentence above: isn't that statement pure spin? Do vegetarians "refuse" to eat raw meat? No, if they ate the meat they would no longer be vegetarians. Same with independent schools -- if you accept regulation, you are no longer independent. Does anyone know if those schools actually refused the students or, if accepting the voucher came with regulatory strings that would take away from the independece of the independent schools?)))
Warmest wishes,
Joan Jaeckel
WHOLE Systems-Thinking Whole-Child Network
12137 Viewcrest Road
Studio City, CA 91604