Re: A meeting on diversity in svs-model schools

Alan Klein (AlanKlein@gnn.com)
Tue, 03 Sep 1996 07:48:04

Larry Welshon wrote:

> If I've understood Jeff Bradford's thoughts correctly, he is concerned
> about
>the possibility of a school's mission, that of the protection of children's
>freedom, being put on the back burner by overt attention being paid to the
>issue of bringing in people of other races, etc.

School Meetings place their attention on many things. I don't see why paying
attention to this aspect of school life is any more mission-diverting than
deciding on staff members, for example.

>Consider a staff at X Democratic School. Staff is concerned that there are
>too few Catholics in attendance at this predominantly Protestant school.
> Holding that a religously diverse school would provide (kids and adults),
>Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, etc., with an opportunity to sort out the
> mixed
>religious messages that our society gives them...

>... the attention
>that is paid by the staff at X Democratic School for religous diversity
>could, once the proper mixing has occured, be turned to some other type of
>inclusion. Shouldn't we also make sure that there is representation from
>Americans of Austrian extraction? How about more Mayans, Hindus, Mormons
> or people from the South, say Georgia? Instead of focusing on freedom
> for kids, this staff focuses on social engineering.

Two points: First, you assume that it is the staff that is the primary
driving force here. I could easily conceive of kids being full partners in
this endeavor, indeed they must if School Meeting resources are put toward
it. Second, your slippery slope argument makes the assumption that all
differences make the same personal and social difference. You equate
discrimination of Catholics and Jews with that of Mayans and Austrians with
that (I presume) of blacks and women. Your assumption is that the staff has
a social engineering bent, rather than a simple desire for a school
population that represents as closely as possible (within the school's
mission) their area's population. I fully agree that staff members, parents,
or others who attempt to foist their social agendas on others are to be
avoided. Working as a group to move toward creating balance in the school
population is not the same as being foisted upon.

>If we artificially set up our communities to reflect what we see to be the
>proper mixing of races, religions, regions, extractions, etc. we may be
>violating our prime directive to set up schools where young people can
> pursue
>their lives without the coercion of social tinkerers and agenda pushers.

What would "artificiality" look like here? Does every decision of the School
Meeting constitute an artificial act?

I very much agree, by the way, with your vision of graduates of these schools
as being much more likely to have grown up in a tolerant atmosphere in which
they could explore their own beliefs and come to strong senses of their own
personal power and direction.

Great debate!

Alan Klein ... AlanKlein@gnn.com
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