How You Can Help

1. Tell your friends about us on Facebook or Twitter.

2. Visit Alpine Valley Academy’s website and perhaps attend one of their Intro Meetings.

3. Like, Tweet or Share our video on freedom-based education on Vimeo.com.

4. Invite Jesse Fisher to speak to your group.

  • 24Jun

    Let’s pretend our country is a Constitutional Republic, complete with Separation and Balance of Powers and where the Rule of Law holds sway – where “Liberty and Justice for All” is not just a tagline but a way of life. Given that, what should our schools look like if we were to want to preserve our nation’s freedoms?

    Doesn’t logic suggest our schools should be microcosms of the greater free society? So that our children would learn to live according to principles of freedom and self-government, shouldn’t the school reflect those values and be organized after the same pattern?

    Bad news: They aren’t.

    In fact, I have to ask, “Why in the world do we structure our schools like a mid-1800s factory?” The analogy is near-perfect. The School Board is the board of directors, the Superintendent of Schools is… well “The Superintendent”, the Principals are the mid-level managers, the teachers are the line managers, and the students, sitting at the bottom of the power structure, are the factory workers. The students have no power at all – they are told where, when, what and how to learn.

    It gets worse.

    As a recovering public school teacher I know from first-hand experience that the teacher, benevolent as she may be, is by definition a tyrant – she is the legislature, judiciary, and executive in her classroom. Any social system that has all three governmental powers in one hand constitutes a dictatorship. Yet, we send our kids there every year because the NEA tells us it will make them “good citizens”. Good citizens of what? Of a free society? Not so much.

    There was a popular poem back in the 1970s by Dorothy Law Nolte entitled, “Children Learn What They Live”. The poem began, “If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.” I say, “If a child spends 12 years in a rigid top-down hierarchy and is denied all the rights he is to responsibly wield when he turns 18, he learns to be a ‘good citizen’ of a oligarchy.” (OK, it’s a little lengthy, but you get the point).

    The solution?

    Constitutional Republic schools. In fact, we’re launching one this fall in northern Utah County. The school is patterned after one that has been operating successfully for nearly 50 years and has dozens of copy-cats around the world – from such foreign countries as California… to as far away as New Zealand, Israel and Japan. The school rules are made by an assembly made up of the staff and students with one-man, one-vote, and, since the adults are way out-numbered, the students are the majority party (don’t worry, it really does work out just fine. Kids are a lot more responsible legislators than we adults give them credit for).

    The school also has a judiciary where students (and staff) can be brought up on charges and tried. I personally was tried in such a student court, was found guilty, and was sentenced to mopping the floors. I did it gladly, knowing that the students learned more about Civics that day than they ever would have sitting in a boring lecture in a classroom somewhere.

    Our version of the model will also have an Executive Branch and will consist of the Executive Committee that is responsible for executing the Student Council’s laws and the Judiciary’s rulings. Also, they will wield the veto power, which of course, can be overridden by a 2/3rds majority in the Legislative Branch.

    Besides learning self-government first-hand, there are other enormous advantages of this model of education. The students are 14-times more likely to start a business by the time they are 30, so, instead of having to move away to the big city to “find work” they are capable and confident enough to start their own businesses, strengthening their home towns’ economies. Also, those graduates who choose to go onto college get in the college of their 1st or 2nd choice, and, they are more likely than graduates of traditional schools to actually finish their Bachelors and get an advanced degree.

    We, the founders of Alpine Valley Academy, believe that to preserve freedom in America, we must do it in the hearts of our children – create freedom-based institutions where self-government is a way of life, not a topic of study.

    Utah's Sudbury School
    Learn more at www.Facebook.com/AlpineValleyAcademy

    Jesse Fisher, Board Member, Alpine Valley Academy, Lehi, Utah.

  • 15Nov

    If you had a blind spot that caused you to ignorantly put your children’s safety and well-being at risk, you’d want to know about it, wouldn’t you?
    As a concerned parent, you’d like to be 100% sure you’re seeing clearly and doing all you can to prepare your children for their lives as adults in a free society.

    If that’s the case, then I invite you to join me in taking a look into our cultural blind spot and consider for a half hour the moral, economic and political risks involved in educating our children in a compulsion-based school system. Then, I’ll tell you about a freedom-based school that has been operating for over forty years with remarkable results. Read more…

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  • 17Sep

    Hi. My name is Jesse and I’m a recovering public school teacher.

    I’m pretty sure that I’ve had more experience setting up real student governments with student-led court systems than probably anyone else in the world. You’d be amazed at what students can do when we trust them to govern themselves.

    Once it backfired on me, though. Around 1992, I had been elected the leader of a group of parents who were establishing a private school here in Utah County. Because the school ended up launching in American Fork and I lived in Springville, I did not enroll my children. So, none of the students at the school knew me or my role in founding their school along with their student-run judicial system.

    One day, I was asked to substitute for a staff member at the school. To make this long story short, I was put on trial along with 5 young students. Read more…

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  • 05Jul

    The following are quotes from Sir Ken Robinson’s TED talk. These many statements call out for a new type of education, which I believe is satisfied by freedom-based education.

    “I have a big interest in education, and I think we all do. We have a huge vested interest in it, partly because it’s education that’s meant to take us into this future that we can’t grasp. If you think of it, children starting school this year will be retiring in 2065. Nobody has a clue… what the world will look like in five years time. And yet we’re meant to be educating them for it.” Read more…

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  • 17Dec

    Lately, I’ve been pondering the changes necessary in our “modern” culture to allow… no, encourage, freedom-based education. My conclusion is that unless and until one specific cultural belief is changed, freedom-based education will forever stay on the sidelines. Read more…

  • 23Aug

    What Child Development Can Contribute

    Among other things, child development reveals a better way to help our children become educated. The fact that children by nature are little learning machines suggests certain fundamental elements for helping a child become “educated.” And, in turn, it stands to reason that we may not impose conditions contrary to the natural development of children without causing harm, or at least unhappiness. I propose that by working in conjunction with nature, and not contrary to it, we can best construct environments ideally suited for the education of children. Read more…

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  • 08Aug

    A commonly-quoted statistic states that 80% of college graduates are not working in their primary field of study. Another is that 50% of college students change their majors at least once before graduating.

    In an online discussion of the validity of the 80% statistic, an appropriately named participant, Eureka, stated, “Also you should remember that many people attend college and choose majors before they really know enough about themselves to know what they want to do with their lives, and thus may end up changing fields.” I couldn’t agree more.

    College is the first time we give students the freedom to explore their interests by learning whatever they want. So, it should be no surprise when their first declared major is not what they graduate in. Nor should it surprise us that some push through (due to economic and/or parental pressures) and graduate in a field in which they realize they have no desire to work. Can someone say, “inefficient”?
    Read more…

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  • 19Jul

    The famous poem, “Children Learn What They Live,” states, “If a child lives with criticism, he learns to condemn.”

    I would like to ask the author of that classic poem to add two new lines:

    · If a child lives in a system steeped in authoritarian principles,
    he learns to abandon, and even despise his own freedom.

    · If a child lives in an environment of freedom and the rule of law,
    he learns to be a responsible citizen.

    Our children spend numerous hours each week in a social system that is laden with autocratic leadership and authoritarian structures–the public school. Simply by spending five to seven hours a day in a system which is steeped in non-democratic principles of organization, our children are inadvertently being trained to live in a nondemocratic society. Read more…

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  • 12Feb

    As a former school teacher who saw first-hand the results of years of compulsory education on kids, I’m always amazed at our collective blindness to the damage our coersion-based school systems to our future workers.

    Think about how our school districts are structured: The Superintendent serves at the will of the school board, the principals serve at the will of the Superintendent. The teachers, at least until they acquire tenure, can be fired at will by the principal. And then comes the classroom where the teacher, as benevolent a person as she may be, serves as judge, jury, prosecution and executor of laws she arbitrarily imposes on her students — this is the epitome of political and intellectual tyranny — and this system is supposed to be preparing them to be “good citizens” of a free society?! Read more…

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