To the Editors:
The New Schools Network is a growing collective of people concerned with, and involved in, alternative schools and schooling, both inside and outside the public school system in the Berkeley area. Though the various alternatives serve over 1,500 students, at every age and educational level, we know that the average life expectancy of a new school is only eighteen months. The NSN is dedicated to seeking for ways that new forms of schooling can survive and develop. To this end we are beginning to share our ideas, resources, students, and teachers—both to assure the richest possible diversity of experiences for each student and to offer each other help in the time of crises.
We know from experience that cooperation between ourselves is not always sufficient and have embarked on a course of political action. We are running a candidate, Joan Levinson, for the Berkeley School Board (election April 6, 1971). We feel that the major plank in our platform is unique, and that it has important implications for education everywhere. Our goal is to refashion the entire Berkeley public school system into small, autonomous schools, each with its own budget; which would also incorporate existing alternative schools now outside the public system. We have an excellent chance of winning, and a good chance of being able to implement our program.
For our campaign we have decided to wage a mass educational effort, instead of politicking simply to win, at the expense of the principles we hold dear. We are sponsoring speeches, symposia, seminars, and films, with the participation, among others, of John Holt and Jim Herndon. We are making broad use of the media, especially free radio (KPFA), educational T.V. (KOED) and the underground press. We are preparing a series of extensive position papers on each of the major issues. We are also associated with an exciting new education quarterly, The New School of Education Journal (subscriptions $5 per year: NSEJ 4304 Tolman Hall, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720).
We will be glad to send you campaign literature and our position papers. We would appreciate your responses to our ideas and welcome statements of support. Your financial assistance would greatly help us in this effort which offers the hope of alternatives under public education to directly counter the present sterile conditions. Please join together with us to change the schools!
Other Ways School
School of Education
Bay High School
New Schools Network
New Schools Network
3039 Deakin Street
Berkeley, California 94705