Is money an issue? It shouldn’t be, it’s just paper right? But unfortunately, as many of us know...it certainly can be. At WCSS we have to ask for fees. We really wish we didn’t. When it comes to asking for fees or telling people in person what they will be paying, most of us want to crawl under the table and hide.
I for one am so ‘proud’ of our founder group. The amount of integrity, compassion, care for accessibility for all who wish to avail of the school, and mind-bending work involved in deciphering budgets and fees is mesmerizing to me. I have watched these ladies for weeks and months and long tenuous hours of mind-bending number crunching trying to make it accessible and fair for all without us completely going in to debt! These ladies are my absolute heroes! I’ve never been so turned-on by people doing numbers in my life! I mean this is another level! We all need lots of hugs and cake after sessions like that!
Our founders are in the same boat as everyone else. All of us kept right on working setting up the school even, when we weren’t sure we could afford to send our own children! It absolutely breaks our hearts to even think about saying ‘no’ to anyone due to financial inaccessibility! I myself have held back tears at meetings and have had to reign in feelings of anger at the mere thought, let alone having to accept it as fact! There have been a couple of times I have thought of leaving the project due to the fact that it is not accessible to all. One thing that has kept me going is the thought that it might not always be this way and that we have plans to do something about it.
We have already looked up every government policy that could aid us in lobbying the government to aid not only government imposed curriculum schools but alternative schools as well. The UNCRC states that the family unit is the ’’fundamental group of society’’ and the ’’natural unit for the growth and well-being of children.’’ An argument could be made that the Child Education Grant should follow the child, whether it be home schooling or alternative education. There are so many government policies that in theory, should support us! WCSS is part of a wider Umbrella Group composed of Democratic schools all over Ireland. We plan on standing together as a united front to lobby the government and address this issue. Our hope is that ‘alternative’ education will become more of a norm...and be just that...an alternative!
We see that these times call for more and more of this type of education where spaces are provided that enable the student to develop their own nature-given intuition; where their own innate abilities are nurtured, and where they can be trusted to flourish and become experts in an area that suits their own drives and passions. We need confident; bright; self-motivated individuals who contribute to their communities at large.
Last week, after a three hour meeting that ended in mind-bending number crunching trying to work out fees once again, I had a dream...
There was a big parade. As the people and the music marched on there were some that rose from the audience and were allowed to join the procession. As I looked closer I saw the fine material their garments were made of; the jewels and the fine linen. I admired it, but later had a sense that some of us had been left out. When the parade was over a woman who had been one of the one’s in charge of an aspect of the parade; mentioned that it was only the elite that were allowed to join. She was a hard-working, creative type who was also an activist. She was not an elite and it was obvious she was too aware of the unfairness of it all. I looked at her and said, ‘’Me too.’’
I didn’t grow up in a family that had money yet I never wanted for anything material. We had food even if it was from the food bank or army issued. I didn’t mind. I didn’t know any different. I had my brothers and sisters, a roof over my head, food to eat. I never did care about name-brands and things like that. I still, today am a person who feels I have enough and am aware of my privileges. But the last couple of years I have wished I could take my boys to America to visit their grandmother, aunts, uncles and cousins. ‘Holiday’ is not part of our vocabulary. I started to see how much others out there in the big wide world had; saw the unbalances of it all and thought, ‘I want some of that.’ And why shouldn’t we have some of it?
Money, that would mean a whole lot to the Sudbury School and families that couldn’t afford to avail, would be pocket change to some people. Not everyone is dealt the same hand in life. Some people can work and work all their lives, sometimes three jobs at a time and still not afford that brand new car or that holiday in the Bahamas. Some people are not able to work due to mental health difficulties. They didn’t ask to be born into their situations. Let us say we are grateful for what we have but if the world is going to run on this system of money, then we need more of it.
A couple of us in the group really enjoy fundraising and will be doing more of that when we get a chance. But all of this takes time and ours is taken at the moment. € 500 that we could earn at a fundraiser sounds like a lot to me. It could cover books, art supplies; a used laptop. €5,000 which would be difficult for us to raise through our own fundraising would help us to pay our staff fairly, or it would be half of what we need not to start out in debt!
We are currently looking for patrons and philanthropists who sympathize and support the Sudbury and Democratic Schools philosophies. If more people only knew the potential these kinds of spaces can and are providing! The dedication, the love, the care...I’ve never known anything like it and this is a grounded, sustainable love and care; not a fair weather flighty kind of love and care that some communities promise. This is a community that breeds awareness, growth and evolution, honesty and integrity. It is commitment and it is very real.
Mo money! Mo mo money!
With love and care,