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Bring a Freire education to 580 more students!

This petition had 692 supporters


YES, I support TECH Freire's application for a new charter in Philadelphia!

For the past 16 years, Freire Charter School has been educating any and all Philadelphia high school students who apply and are selected randomly by lottery.  Most Freire students who enter in ninth grade come in three to four grade levels behind in reading and math. By the end of their first year at Freire, however, 85% of Freire students have caught up to their peers across the state.  Freire has built a solid academic track record, beating the School District of Philadelphia’s average performance on standardized tests every year.  By the end of senior year, 90% of Freire students have been accepted to college and plan on attending.  Last year’s graduating class earned an average of $59,000 per student in scholarship funds toward college.  Freire students feel safe at school, and often refer to the Freire community as a “family.”

Freire offers its students the kind of education that every student in Philadelphia deserves. However, most of the parents and students who aspire to attend Freire Charter High School never get there.  Far more students apply every year than Freire is able to enroll.  This year, we have a chance to change that.

Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission has just begun accepting applications for new charter schools, and Freire is ready.  A new Freire high school called TECH Freire will provide a first-class college preparatory education to 580 more students, in addition to training them in entrepreneurship and computer science.  TECH Freire will offer 580 more students the rigorous schoolwork and comprehensive support that helps current Freire students thrive.

As a concerned member of this community, I ask you to read the essays below by two Freire alumni and one current Freire High School senior describing their experiences at Freire.  A new Freire school means 580 more young people like Sierra, Derek and Simone en route to success in college, career and life.  That’s why I say YES to TECH Freire!

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Freire is Reality
Sierra Cratic-Smith 
Freire High School Senior

For me Freire is more than just a high school, it's become a home or a part of me I could never replace. As many Freire students have claimed at times, I being one of them, "Freire is so weird" or "I hate this dumb school." This is absolutely untrue. Freire is only strange because everything is so different here, its unique style simply could not be more original. This frustration is really a coping mechanism, a reaction to being pushed to excel academically and a way to show how much we care about our education. Freire pushes the boundaries of our comprehension, it stands for not only pure education but also safety and community. This safety and community is not only shown amongst our peers, but amongst the staff as well. This petite school makes us closer with the administrators, teachers, and even some custodial workers. This school has combined safety, community, and education in a way many young adults probably wouldn't understand until college.

The number one rule at Freire that everyone knows is the non-violence policy. This rule is far reaching. It not only develops a teenager within the school, but outside as well. Every year we review that even fighting outside of school breaks the non-violence policy and puts the student at risk of losing their education. With this mindset, I have often avoided conflicts whether it be amongst friends or rivals. I gave myself a standard that I would not have a conflict with anyone without addressing it constructively face to face. Peer mediation allows Freire students to address conflicts safely and privately. This not only encourages me to handle situations realistically and responsibly, but also keeps me, and others around me, out of harm’s way.

Another great reason why Freire is such a wonderful school is the academic program. Freire is not only very serious about its students' comprehension of high school academics, but other material as well, whether lower or higher in level. When I was a freshman, I had classes that retaught me things from middle school that I never learned, whether because of educational background deficiency or just plain forgetting about what I learned when I was younger. I was retaught things I hadn't considered important for high school until I actually saw that I needed that sort of understanding to rise to the next grade. Not to mention, Freire teaches you more than content, but also why that content is important. Events like Take Back the City or meetings with your Academic Advisor have taught me not only about my peers but also about how important the use of my education is, and how it will help me succeed in life. I would never guess some of the things my peers went through without Take Back the City. Knowing where my classmates originate helps give me an understanding of the kind of people my classmates really are, and this keeps us closer as a school, or as a big, supportive family.

When I first came to Freire I did not know what I wanted to do, I was a rebel who barely cared about myself let alone my education. But from my peers’ encouragement, my advisors' advice, and my teachers' appreciation and motivation, I have grown into a mature young woman. Without Freire, I wouldn't be able to pursue my education further and achieve my goal of becoming an architect. As a young woman, I've learned about the importance of education for myself and for others around me, I've learned that if you give peace, you get peace, and that I can go a long way when using the right sort of mindset. I'm no longer as prejudiced about those around me, I've become more serene, and my education has excelled at a rapid pace thanks to Freire. Freire taught me things not only inside of school and academics, but about the real world as well. Like how cruel the world can be, but also showing us how we can change the world by being positive, and from that I wouldn't choose any other school. I hope that more people can have a second chance at reality like I did at Freire Charter School. 

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A Freirean Education
Derek Mitchell
Freire High School Alumnus

I like to think of Freire Charter School as a glacier in the sense that 90% of a glacier’s mass is below the water and the grand, elegant piece of the glacier in plain sight is only 10%.  For Freire the wonderful 10% is composed mainly of the amazing, ever-growing statistics produced and exceeded year after year.  While it’s amazing that Freire: is able to take a group of students from all over the city, many of which are multiple grade levels behind, and have 85% of them on the proper level in just a year; is able to get 90% of seniors into college; and is able to accumulate several thousand dollars in scholarships for their students, the bulk of what makes Freire a great institution lies in the name itself.  

Paulo Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a book that outlines that in the world there is oppression and that through social change this oppression can be overcome.  However, this oppression cannot be overcome without adequate education.  He asserts that through banking education and lack of dialectic, experiential education, people are dehumanized and only further oppressed.  In order to become productive citizens capable of change, it is imperative that students have a relationship with peers, teachers and the world around them.

Freire Charter School provides just that.  For a troubled youth like me, Freire became my home away from home—my teachers and fellow students became my family and the building became my safe haven from all my home problems. A lot of the students come from neighborhoods in the city, that aside from being dangerous, the statistics are against us and Freire was our opportunity to break those statistics and be a part of ones that people never would have counted us in before.  This change is no accident.  The staff of Freire pushes the students to be disciplined and academically elite and this is the pressure that results in students like me often indulging in the mantra “I HATE THIS SCHOOL.”  In retrospect I’d like to bury this mantra.  The truth is I love Freire.  If not for the staff there who saw me, a trouble-making student with potential, and then pushed me to do all I could, the results of my SAT’s and ACT’s wouldn’t have put me in a position where I could apply—with a good chance at acceptance—to the majority of schools in the country.  If not for this same staff, who pushed me in the classroom, helping me deal with my own personal issues outside of school, I might easily have slipped into an abyss of depression. If not for my peers, who through friendly competition make everyone be the best they can be at all times, I would not have formed friendships that will last a lifetime.

Freire is a school that gives kids like me, a low-income, inner city kid with all odds stacked against him, the chance to be all they can be and more.  At Freire I learned that through education I can make a social change.  Oppression is not permanent and things do get better, but only if people are educated properly like Paulo Freire teaches.  As an institution Freire stands behind him and carries out his legacy by teaching the oppressed.  The only issue with this is that their space is limited and only a limited amount of students can be reached.  With the expansion of Freire other lives can and will be changed.

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Simone Mokum
Freire High School Alumna

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Simone Mokum. I am an Alumni Dragon from Freire. I graduated from Freire in the year 2013. I must say I been through a lot during my years when I was attending there as a student, academically as well as personal. However, it did not matter what issue I was going through, Freire's staff was there for me, and they help me out no matter the circumstance. That's what Freire is all about: helping students succeed no matter what. The Freire Community is not categorized by the labels of teachers and students, that they are, but they are so much more. The Freire Community is a family, a family that strives for the positive outcome for the youth of the city, a family that strives for the youth to use their full potential to do anything they want to do in life, a family that strives for a better world for the youth to grow up and be leaders in and make a change that they feel is needed. Freire is a wonderful school, and it has been my pleasure attending there. Freire itself offers so many opportunities, such as providing various clubs to join, classes that let students’ brains be challenged, trips to places full of history and educational value, and helping students get ready and prepare for college. What more can I say? Freire is definitely a one of a kind learning foundation that I think many kids should have the opportunity to experience.   

Sincerely,

Simone Mokum

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Every student in Philadelphia deserves access to a safe, supportive, and rigorous education.  I support TECH Freire's application for a new charter, and I ask Superintendent Hite and the members of the School Reform Commission to approve it.



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