A few months back I put a post up about how many Brandywine residents are up in arms over the new Freire Charter School location. Today some peaceful protesters decided to, you know, protest some more. Apparently the head of school was in the area and got rather physical with them. Please keep in mind several of the protesters were women and some were African-American.
After calling the protesters racist, Freire Charter School of Wilmington Head of School William Porter charged the protesters, yelling and screaming. Startled, one of the women almost fell to the ground. It is unknown if she had any injuries, but five Wilmington police cars showed up at the scene, and the protesters were allowed to continue.
The irony of a zero tolerance charter school and the Head of School going after a woman is just too crazy. Freire Charter Schools are based on the beliefs of Paulo Freire. A noted Marxist, Freire Charter School of Wilmington has this on their website about Paulo:
Who is Paulo Freire?
So, why a name so unique? While our name might be often mispronounced (we say Free-air-ee), we selected it because the educator, Paulo Freire, is a philosopher whose ideas inspired us to be a different kind of school. Paulo Freire believed in the value of a classical education (liberal arts and sciences) yet argued that most schools failed to provide such learning in an effective manner. In his mind, most schools instead promoted the values of the dominant class, creating a “culture of silence” where underserved individuals were deprived the means to think critically about their place in the world.
Paulo Freire was a Brazilian educator and theorist who wrote several influential books, most notably Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Though he is most known for his progressive theories in this book, Freire spent much of his early life working on literacy with peasant farmers in Brazil. His dedication to provide the underserved with the necessary tools to reach liberation is his legacy.
Along with his contemporaries, like John Dewey, Freire pushed teachers and administrators to reconsider their role in learning. Are students vessels, needing only to be passively filled with facts and numbers to achieve competency? Or, are they active participants in a process built on equality, diversity, and critical thought? It was, and is, novel to consider students as learners and teachers.
At Freire Charter School, we believe students have much to learn and experience but, also, much to teach – to each other and our educators. This growth begins in the classroom and continues through the hallways and into our community. The students of Freire Wilmington carry the responsibility of their scholarship along with administrators, teachers, support staff, and parents. We believe this holistic approach, which values autonomy, equity, and community, honors the legacy of Paulo Freire.
I’m sure these peaceful protesters really loved Porter’s “holistic” approach. So how did Freire even come to Wilmington? That is a story in itself. Apparently their backers bring with them millions of dollars in support. And none other than Governor Jack Markell insisted they come to Wilmington. Yes, this is the kind of school Delaware needs, one where they can’t even practice what they preach. So does this mean that the school will enforce it’s zero tolerance policy on Porter? One strike, and you’re out! We shall see how this plays out… Meanwhile, I’m sure Paulo is rolling around in his grave…
The Delaware State Board of Education just approved the school’s modification request to lower their enrollment minimum and to remove the specific interest of a zero tolerance school. And yet, parents are required to sign the zero tolerance policy if they send their kids there. Sounds like a lot of potential here… for a lawsuit!
In the meantime, here’s 10 Things To Know about this school, straight from their website. I’m sure civil rights attorneys will be keeping a very close eye on this school!
Ten Things to Know About Freire Charter School Wilmington
1) Freire Wilmington serves any and all 8th-12th grade students in the City of Wilmington and surrounding suburbs. Where there are too many students and not enough spaces, Freire uses a random lottery system to determine enrollment. We do not discriminate based on race, gender, creed, sexual orientation, academic ability – or anything whatsoever.
2) The students who succeed at Freire are the ones who take action to help themselves, who see a bright future for themselves, and who are willing to do whatever it takes (i.e. long nights of homework; studying on the weekends; going to the library on a sunny day) to get the best high school education out there.
3) We mean what we say at Freire. Perhaps other schools tell you that if you break their code of conduct there will be consequences. But then when it comes right down to it, many of these schools do not enforce their rules. At Freire, we enforce everything we say. Honestly. We do what we say we are going to do. And we expect you to do the same.
4) We are a 100% nonviolent school. Safety is our first priority. If a student acts violently – whether in words or in actions- to anyone at school or on the DART bus OR ANYWHERE – he or she will be expelled. There are no second chances. Our second priority is helping students learn to resolve conflicts peacefully and without violence.
5) Freire is for students who plan to go to college. Do not send your child to Freire if college is not in the future plan. Your sons and daughters will not be happy at Freire if they want to do something other than college after high school.
6) Remaining a student at Freire takes hard work, courage, honesty, and constant determination every day. Getting into Freire means getting a space through our lottery. That’s the easy part. The hard part is staying at Freire. We guarantee there will be challenges at Freire, and we will ask community members to do things they think are beyond their abilities. Those who succeed at Freire are the ones who never stop trying, and who are willing to work as hard as it takes to achieve excellence. No excuses.
7) Freire teachers and staff are some of the most talented, dedicated and caring in the country. These professionals come to Freire to serve students and families to the best extent ever imagined in a school.
8) Parents/Guardians must be involved and must participate in their child’s education with us as equal partners. We will expect and demand this of all our families. Freire students need support, family involvement and encouragement every step of the way through high school.
9) Learning at Freire is painful and joyous, hard and exciting. And learning happens everywhere – in classrooms, on school trips, at internships, on athletic fields, using the internet, planning the school dance, eating healthy food before school, and doing homework at night.
10) Freire is a place to take risks, dream big, and then work hard every day to meet those dreams head on. We strive for excellence in our community every minute of every day. Freire is a school for those who want to do and be their best all the time.
To read more about this charter school that has only managed to enroll 105 students, please go here: http://freirewilmington.org/