Democratic & Sudbury Schools

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Looking for a school with Sudbury philosophy

Feb 2009

Hi There, I am looking for an elementary school similar to Big Rock Sudbury school of Marin. (The school in Marin has is closed, I heard). Some of the Sudbury philosophy means: Independent study: Students are encouraged to be guided by their natural curiosity and pursue their real passions. Democratic governance. The school is run by the School Meeting, in which students and staff members have equal votes. Due process. When disputes arise, the issues are resolved through fair public process by students and staff through the judicial system. There is no fear of teachers or adults as students learn to solve conflicts eye-to-eye and that justice in a democracy belongs to everyone. If you know of a school with similar philosophy in or around Berkeley, please let me know! Thankyou.

Hi - I teach at and my kids attend Wildcat Community Freeschool. It is a Freeschool not a Sudbury - but similar. Freeschools are based on Summerhill in England founded by A.S. Neil. Here is the website: WE have a non-academic summer program which is both affordable, relaxed, offers tons of art and music and gives a nice intro to our school. Good luck with your quest for the right school. Sarah

Looking for democratically oriented schools

Jan 2008

I'm looking for any democratically oriented schools, i.e. schools where the kids are given a lot of responsibility and freedom. Preferably a school where there are no grades, homework or tests. I already know about Big Rock in Marin and Diablo in Danville but they are too far. I have checked out some of the more liberal schools like Walden but they all use tests and grades and homework. Thank you. Anon

I am not sure where you are located, so this may still be irrelevant. But have you heard of Diablo Valley School in Concord? It is based on the Sudbury School Model. Mimi

There is a democratic/Sudbury type school in Concord called Diablo Valley School . I don't have direct experience with it, but a close friend has her kids there and they all really love it. It also sounds like they are pretty flexible with their tuition rates too. The school is located about a block from the downtown Concord BART station. Their website is Good Luck CJU in Concord

Wildcat Community Free School is a democratic-style school in the Richmond Hill area next to Alvarado Park. They have no grades (nor even those lengthy written evaluations that are just grades in hiding), no homework, and no tests. Sometimes the kids bring home things they're working on, but that's not the same. Or they test themselves to see how fast they can complete something or how many problems they can solve in a set amount of time -- but it's all voluntary and fun. Their website has been ''under construction'' for a long time, but there's some basic info to be found at They have rolling admissions, so if you're looking for someplace right away, you might even be able to get in now. My daughter's been there for four years; she wouldn't consider going anywhere else. anne

There is a ''Sudbury school'' in Concord called Diablo Valley School. You can check out their website at I'm not sure where you are coming from, but I commute to Concord from Oakland every day and it's not a bad commute (20 minutes). Plus the school is a few blocks from BART. Tara

I am just starting to look into this myself for my 3yo (I'd probably better get on the ball, knowing the Bay Area and competition for resources). But in my research so far I've found the Wildcat Community FreeSchool: and the Oakland Garden School: I don't see anything on BPN about the latter one--maybe I should post a question. I haven't called or toured either school or anything, but so far their posted philosophies seem to agree with what I'm looking for (which sounds similar to your preferences too). Good luck! --another hopeful freeschooler parent

Check out Aurora School in Oakland.

I wanted to respond to the posts regarding Diablo Valley School . I would be VERY careful in checking this school out before deciding to send your child there. The school that this school is based on (Sudbury Valley School)is very successful and based on a wonderful idea. In my opinion, Diablo Valley School is very different. My brother (10 years younger) attended this school for a year when he was in 4th-5th grade. He had to repeat that school year at another school, while also having to remember all that he had forgotten while attending Diablo Valley School. Not an ideal situation for a kid who didn't like school in the first place. His experience there was about 10 years ago, so things may have changed; but the owners/directors seem to be the same. I am just relating our family's past experience and encouraging you to REALLY check it out if you are looking at it for your child. Please be cautious.