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Interns Needed for South Mountain Co-op Free School in Maplewood, NJ (Job Opportunity)

Do you believe that teachers should be free to focus on curiosity, exploration, play, and authentic connection with students? Do you feel drawn to Education but discouraged by the thought of having to work within the increasingly-restrictive boxes of mainstream schools? Do you imagine opening a school of your own someday but don’t know where to start?

South Mountain Co-op is in our first year of operation as a Democratic Free School in Essex County NJ. We're currently serving 28 students between the ages of 4.5 and 15.

We're looking for interns to help staff the school, as well as interns to help with the administrative work of running the school. Among us, the co-founders have 8 years' experience in staffing and running Democratic Free Schools, and we are excited to share that experience with anyone who believes in the democratic free school model of education: that students learn and thrive when offered the space to direct their own learning, follow their own interests, and be fully involved in the decision-making process of the school

What you'll learn as an intern at SMC:

Staff internship:

  • how to engage with students in a non-coercive, joyful way
  • how to facilitate consensus-based decision making
  • how to put conflict resolution and NVC techniques into practice

Administrative internship:

  • the nitty gritty, behind the scenes work that goes in to starting and running an alternative school
  • the organizational skills to run committees and work groups, and to manage projects of your own.

SMC interns will get:

  • regular mentoring from a co-founder
  • the opportunity to be involved in every level of decision making of the operation of the school 
  • a letter describing and documenting the work you've done with us and the skills you've acquired

We're looking for applicants who:

  • can commit at least 2 days a week, for 12 weeks
  • believe in the tenets of democratic free schools
  • are reliable and self-directed workers

For more information contact Mary Karl-Gruswitz here:

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Democratic High School Seeking Full-Time Math Teacher (Job Listing)

Harriet Tubman Democratic High School is located in Albany, NY. We are currently looking to fill a full-time math teacher position starting January 13, 2014. For more information about our school, please visit our website at


Full-Time Teacher Position Description: Our school serves students ages 14-19 (grades 9-12) from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Staff members at our school act as teachers, advisors, mentors and administrators. General responsibilities include: attendance for all school hours, attendance at school functions, teaching classes and workshops, advisory of students to help them meet their personal and academic goals, administrative meetings, and parent conferences. Staff members also share daily responsibilities such as mediation, spontaneous activity involvement, and cleaning.


Qualifications: Previous experience working with teens from diverse backgrounds preferred. Must be self-directed and posses strong communication skills. Must be qualified to teach high school level math subjects. Previous work references requested. Harriet Tubman Democratic High School is a cooperative and during the school calendar year this full-time staff member receives a stipend of $156.25 a week plus a room with utilities and internet included.


Apply by sending a resume to or to:

          Harriet Tubman Democratic High School

          59 Elizabeth Street

          Albany, NY 12202


Harriet Tubman Democratic High School strives to create a diverse educational community and encourages people from varied backgrounds and experiences to apply. Harriet Tubman Democratic High School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identification.

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The Common Core is not an upgrade!

by Jerry Mintz  |  
First lets make one thing clear: The Common Core is not an educational upgrade. It does not make education more rigorous except in the sense of rigor mortis. The only reason I think that the Common Core is great is because it is so negative and destructive that it has finally done what we in our organization have been unable to do in the last 20 years: galvanize students,  parents and teachers into a formidable force to resist top-down disempowering education. This is what I said yesterday to a large group of protesters who had gathered in bitterly cold weather outside Mineola High School, where New York State Education Commissioner John B. King was delivering his defense of the state’s regime of testing and the imposition of the, possibly unconstitutional, Common Core Curriculum.
I went down there just to try to interview some of the protesting parents and teachers, for our online magazine,  knowing it would be practically impossible to get inside to see the carefully scripted session with Commissioner King. I was surprised to see a makeshift stage, the back of a pickup truck, with a sound system. It was a brilliant idea! One by one the teachers and parents spoke of their misery under the new system. The said their children were in tears after the tests. The teachers said they couldn’t really teach any more and that the fun and excitement of learning had disappeared.  The crowd cheered each speaker and carried signs saying “Common Core, High stakes Testing, Data mining, Experimenting with our kids!” “Hey! Ho! Common Core has got to go!” “King resign NOW!”
But it is not King’s fault. It is much larger than that. This whole approach that has been imposed on the hapless children is based on a faulty and long-discredited theory: That children are naturally lazy and have to be forced to learn. Modern brain research has shown that the opposite is true, that children are natural learners. Unfortunately the people responsible for this debacle were raised with the old approach, which over the years becomes self-fulfilling, and have forgotten that they were once natural learners. This approach is based on distrust: Children are not to be trusted to learn on their own. Teachers are not to be trusted to teach according to their instincts. Parents do not know how to raise their own children.
Speaking of research, not only is the Common Core not based on research about its effectiveness, but even the most basic students of sociology know that any research must consider the Hawthorne Effect, that you effect what you are measuring by the way that you measure it. This apparently was never considered by the bureaucrats.
A small percentage of parents, teachers and children have decided to abandon the system to participate in learner-centered schools and homeschooling. They are almost universally happy with their decision. Even when the old system’s standardized test are given, homeschoolers as a group score near the top! This is why colleges and universities love to take in homeschoolers and students from innovative, learner-centered schools.
But what of the rest? It appears that, thanks to the Common Core and high stakes testing, we now have their attention. But how do we approach the daunting task of convincing the bureaucrats of the system that they have been barking up the wrong tree? How can we help those parents who instinctively know that these Draconian measures are wrong-headed to turn their system into one that really nurtures their children? I don’t know the answer to these questions but I do know that we need to answer them quickly before we lose a whole generation of children.