Re: New School Opens in Northwest

Andrew Smallman (smallman@pscs.org)
Fri, 13 Mar 1998 11:44:29 -0800 (PST)

Hey Everyone,

I'm responding to Stuart's message, quoted below for reference. I haven't
written to this list in ages but have been an active lurker. :)

My name is Andy Smallman and I am the founder/director of the Puget Sound
Community School. Like Sadie's Real Life Academy, we are a Washington
State based program making use of the state's homeschooling laws.

What Sadie has done, basically, is quote the letter of the state
homeschooling law in the RLA literature. Actually, the Washington
homeschool law is quite liberal, designed to allow parents much
flexibility in pursuing a suitable education for their children. Within
the law, though, there are those specifics.

The law says that homeschooled students need to be tested each year OR
their homeschool program can be supervised by a state-certified teacher.
If this "supervisor" feels the student has progressed satisfactorily
(what determines statisfactory progress is not defined and my definition
as a *teacher* might be different than a local public school teacher's)
then the test requirement can be waived.

What we do at PSCS is "assign" one of our staff members who happens to be
a state-certified teacher (we have 3 on staff) to each student. When the
student is registered as a homeschooler, that teacher is listed as his/her
supervisor. If the state wants to see a record of satisfactory progress
they can ask (again, how *we* define satisfactory progress is up to us).
If not, so be it.

I do think Stuart raises some valid concerns here and I would advise Sadie
(if I was asked) to play down the 11 subject area and evaluation
component. I think it's easy, once young people are freely allowed to
pursue their interests, to go back and see how they've "fulfilled" these
state requirements (in other words, I think the state, and Sadie, in her
desire to stay completely in adherance with the letter of the law, are
putting the cart before the horse).

There, my 2 cents. I'm probably back to lurker status. Be well everyone
and keep up all the great work that's going on out there on behalf of
young people.

---Andy

=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
Andrew Smallman, Director
Puget Sound Community School - http://www.pscs.org
smallman@pscs.org - http://www.pscs.org/~smallman/
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

On Fri, 13 Mar 1998, Freekids wrote:

> Hi Sadie & Others,
>
> This is Stuart Williams-Ley, a staff member at Cedarwood Sudbury School in
> Santa Clara, CA. Recently Sadie Lovely announced the opening of her "Real
> Life Academy" on this list, and I followed up by reading her web site at
> www.accessone.com/~lovelys/RLA. (I had to search my keyboard for that
> "tilden" character.)
>
> It is truly a fine web site, and in general the values expressed in the site
> are in accordance with my own. I did wonder about a few things, though, in
> particular this statement:
>
> <<Along with the required forms, we are required to study eleven separate
> subjects per year, no matter what “grade” you are in. This is where it gets
> interesting. You, the student, and I sit down together, and work out our goals
> for the school year. You decide what you would like to study in each subject
> and we write it down. These are our “objectives” for the year. As these goals
> are met, they are logged. As the “teacher” I am obligated to make quarterly
> comments on your progress for your academic record, or you may take annual
> standardized tests (yuck!). This will help you when you are preparing to take
> college courses, apply to colleges, or if you eventually decide to return to
> public school.>>
>
> Is the law in Washington really that demanding? If you follow the law, it
> seems to largely negate the school's commitment to letting students pursue
> their own goals.
>
> Further, students would have to convince the teacher that their work fulfills
> the law's requirements, which places a great deal of power in the teacher's
> hands. Granted, the school's fundamental premise appears to be that the
> teacher will allow students to fulfill the requirements in diverse ways. I am
> nonetheless concerned that the whole rigamarole of subjects, objectives, and
> quarterly evaluations will cause students to narrow their vision about what
> education is about. Having to convince a powerful (albeit supportive) adult
> that they are progressing in these areas may distort how they approach their
> education.
>
> That said, I imagine the Academy will represent a humane alternative for many
> kids.
>
> Stuart
>