Student Aid, With A Twist
Whitman's far-sighted SGA also persuaded Brown University's Theodore Sizer, renowned teacher educator and author of Horace's Compromise, to address teachers and students at an assembly in late March. Earle and his compatriots, on the advice of Principal Jerome Marco, also suggested to school administrators that they permit Whitman teachers to occasionally switch jobs with teachers in other schools in order to exchange ideas. The administration has agreed.
"I think we have a strong faculty,'' says Earle. "But the point is to get good people to experiment a little. Teacher grants are meant to be a service to our faculty. It's not meant to be a criticism.''
Lately, because the student government has been operating well in the black--the SGA earned about $4,000 from various fund raisers last year-- some of the excess cash has been allocated for grants to local charities. But the SGA, at Earle's urging, has decided that charity begins at home.
The grant money is by no means the end of student government's commitment to teacher education, Earle says. The SGA will continue to bring in outside speakers for inservice programs and to pay them if necessary. "What I'm hoping,'' says Earle, "is that people will get excited about the fact that students are doing this, and they will come in for a lower fee.'' Sizer, for one, is not charging.
Earle, who graduates this year, hopes everyone involved will accept the student government's generosity in the spirit in which it was intended. Every school, he says, can use a little shaking up. On this point he speaks with the conviction of the most ardent advocate of school restructuring.
"There's something wrong with the whole concept of secondary school,'' he says, "the way you shuffle in and out of your 45-minute classes. It saps all the energy and creativity out of education.''