Rules and democracy

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Dave Pugh
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Rules and democracy

Postby Dave Pugh » Wed Mar 30, 2016 5:39 pm

Here's a great quote from the "rule" book I've been reading:

It is ironic that in a society that sees itself as democratic, it would be taken for granted that children should be raised under conditions of virtual dictatorship. Giving children an equal right to participate in setting the standards and guidelines by which they will live seems necessary if they are to mature into adults that are capable of participating in a genuine democracy.

Reading this book and taking this class has made me think a lot about the overall makeup of schools. In our culture we say we value diversity, individuality, creativity, equality, and apple pie. But in our schools we emphasize the opposite. Why are all schools the same? OK, there are a few that are a bit different, but most of them are 91.5% identical in structure, rules, and grading. Why is it OK for schools to submit students to a set of rules on day 1 kind of like a prison camp? I just started a new job and I was sent an email with policies and told to be aware of them, but it wasn't a threat - it was helping me not screw up unintentionally. The policies didn't say most things that would be found in a school rule book. Nothing about dress code, weapons, fighting, tardies, alcohol. They did say the office was smoke free. So there's one.

Why do we think big is better? Parents are choosing smaller rural schools over RPS schools, so why don't we try making smaller sub-campuses with personal identities and more student participation in the makeup and values of the school? If I were a principal could I make a decision to split the school into three and have each assistant principal take one third of the students and staff? Share teachers of fine arts where numbers matter. Share the cafeteria and the sports and speech teams. Do whatever we can do to make this less of a factory and more of a community.
HeatherLyke
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Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2016 7:01 pm

Re: Rules and democracy

Postby HeatherLyke » Wed Mar 30, 2016 6:30 pm

In 2002, Diane and Rick (JM Principal and AP at the time) had pulled together a team of teachers to explore how to divide JM--a school of 16,000 students--into 'pods'. The committee, of which I was a member, explored the benefits of this structure, many of which you address in your post here. The committee knew there was no easy way to close JM and open 4 schools of 4,000 in its place; therefore, the goal was to create four schools-within-a-school that each functioned as their own. Each would have their own focus (College-driven for one, Tech-driven for another, Exploratory, and so on), have their own administrator and counselor, and have their own teachers. Should a student opt to change pods, she could certainly do so at year's end--that being one of the benefits of sharing a building (other benefits being sharing busses, custodial staff, and extra-curricular activities).

Despite research showing this had potential to really impact our students for the better, it was shut down by 'Downtown', which at the time was very focused on how all schools should be equal (and equal, to them, meant 'the same'). Frustrating.

So, in other words, I agree.
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Dave Pugh
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Re: Rules and democracy

Postby Dave Pugh » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:26 pm

Aarghhh -- it's sad to know how close this came to happening. I think we should blow up Century and do that -- the building is perfect.

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