The papers include materials on Earthworks background and history, founding and planning materials, correspondence, materials on the merger with Community High School, printed works and annual reports, evaluations and studies of the school, field trip logs, and audiovisual material.
The papers also include one folder of material on spring 1968 disturbances at Pioneer collected by Nicholas Schreiber, Allan Schreiber's father and principal of Pioneer High School in the 1960s.
The papers contain the following series: Background and Planning, Correspondence, Merger, Evaluations, Reunion, Printed Material, School Logs, and Audiovisual Material.
Allan Schreiber, a teacher at Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, was part of an initiative in the 1970s to develop an alternative high school, known as Earthworks. The impetus for an alternative educational program partly stemmed from a period of social unrest during the late 1960s and early 1970s at Pioneer. Racial tensions as well as perceived threats to freedoms of expression and speech incited student protests and rioting. Perceiving a need for change, Ray Silverman, a teacher at Pioneer, proposed an alternative education program that would take place in the portable classrooms behind the high school, emphasizing student-led curriculum development and governance. At the time, Silverman's proposal was dismissed.
The alternative high school concept took shape upon the arrival of new school superintendent, Bruce McPherson, who was a strong supporter of alternative education. In 1971, about sixty faculty and students at Pioneer proposed the idea of an alternative school, known as Pioneer Two. The school board approved and Pioneer Two began in October 1971 with an enrollment of 108 students. Schreiber, then a teacher at Pioneer, did not join the faculty of Pioneer Two until 1972, frustrated from the lack of interest that faculty at Pioneer had in making changes. Schreiber was immediately asked to head Pioneer Two.
The educational experience at Pioneer Two aimed to go beyond the traditional classroom. Students were encouraged to propose their own educational curriculum. Students did not have graduation requirements and grading was on a pass/fail basis. The school also offered non-traditional classes and expanded students' education beyond the classroom, in the form of school field trips. The school was renamed Earthworks in 1972, inspired by a field trip to Indian mounds in southern Ohio.
A decline in student enrollment and a lack of support from school administrators led to the decline of Earthworks in the mid-1970s. In 1978, administrators proposed that Earthworks be merged with Community High School, another alternative high school in Ann Arbor. In the fall of 1978 Earthworks became part of Community High School. Earthworks soon after fell out of existence as students and programs became part of the new high school. Schreiber left the Ann Arbor Public Schools after the first year that Earthworks merged with Community High.
For a detailed history of Earthworks, researchers may want to consult Allan Schreiber's personal account of Earthworks' history written in 1988 (found in the first folder of the collection.)