E.M. "Mac" Swengel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Education
School of Education
United States International University
San Diego, California
“Under One Roof”
THE BENIGN SCHOOL
by Edwin M. Swengel, Ph.D
Since Wells connected catastrophe with education, you might assume
it to be a small group in some way involved at some level with
schools. It is not a secret society, not a covert cabal with hidden
power and influence. It is among the most well known and publicized
groups in any city with a population of 50,000 or more—possibly even
in a smaller city. Neither is it a private group, nor voluntary. Its
members are publicly elected officials.
How further can the possibilities be narrowed? If you have centered
on a public school Board of Education, you are almost right. Narrow
that to a Board’s simple majority. Bull’s eye!
What can those majority members of a school board do to unleash
forces to change the course of history, not only to avoid
catastrophe but to assure comfort and justice for all?
They can simply vote to install, maintain, and continually expand
and improve the kind of comprehensive public schooling described in
this treatise. (Note: “The Plainston Chronicles, Vols. I & II” are
the books that tell, in story form, about the concepts in this
treatise.) Along with their voting to make this quantum leap in
school restructuring, they will also simultaneously vote to begin a
less revolutionary but equally significant paradigm shift: to
develop comprehensive peer-tutoring programs in all schools
districtwide. These will produce immediate improvement in all
students’ academic performance, along with a positive schoolwide
change in morale.
However, these majority Board Members are not likely to make these
empowering votes without intensive and extensive prior groundwork to
convince them to charter a Benign School and implement the
preparatory tutoring program in their existing schools. The
essential grassroots campaign cannot succeed without some kind of
guidebook of information, rationale, and reassurance. This is
provided in the “Plainston Chronicles” books and this treatise.
To my knowledge, no other such guidebook exists, although books and
articles in professional and popular journals abound with diagnoses
of the problems and failures of traditional schooling and the
ill-informed efforts to correct them. But reform-minded critics are
generally vague and imprecise in describing in sufficient detail
what would be a practical, affordable alternative system.
Oddly, the longer a problem persists and the worse it gets, the more
desperately we look for a solution. Yet we get impatient with anyone
who asks us to give the time and effort needed to understand the
essential nature of the problem and the necessary level of
complexity of a practical solution.
I herein offer what I consider an optimum amount of essential
information needed to find that “critical mass” – the simple
majority of a school board—and convince them to charter a Benign
School and to implement tutoring programs to assure that all their
schools start to improve according to the basic principles and
practices of the Benign School concept and to evolve into that