Friday, March 21, 2014

How Rules Are Made at Clearwater

by Gabriel, age 16

Gabriel throws the (rule) book at Thad 
If you talk to people who are unfamiliar with Sudbury schools about Clearwater, one of the things they often say is, “So the kids just get to do whatever they want?” While it is true that people are free to learn whatever they want, whenever they want, the presence of rules means it isn't very accurate to say that the kids get to do anything they want.  

Most of the rules are about not hurting yourself, others, the school, or the property of any of the aforementioned, and they're enforced by the Judicial Committee, a group of students (and usually one staff member) headed by the Judicial Committee chair, which is an elected position.

To make new rules, or change existing ones, any member of School Meeting may put up an agenda item for discussion in the weekly meeting. In that meeting, if you can get another person to second your motion, the rule addition or change will be put up for a vote in the next week. 

The most recent examples of rule changes have been mostly minor changes to the attendance policy, but in the past, students have proposed rules to prevent people from making microwave popcorn (they disliked the way the smell of microwave popcorn filled the whole room), or to govern the usage of pillows for making forts (because if one person uses all the pillows, nobody else can make forts).

On a semi-regular (maybe about once a year or so) basis, a committee is formed to read over the rules and check for inconsistencies, out-of-date rules, rules that are no longer enforced or are now unnecessary, and other small problems, and proposes a slate of rule changes to School Meeting, which are then voted for the next week.

All changes to the rules are announced several times in School Meeting to give plenty of notice to anybody who might be affected by the changes. 

And of course, everyone has a vote.

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