Paulo Freire Freedom School (both at the University and Downtown locations) are Tucson public schools that are demonstration sites/lab schools for best instructional practices and small school design. We are not part of the Tucson Unified School District, within which we are physically located, but we are Tucson public schools nonetheless.
In the debate about the future of K-12 education in America, many advocates of public education have been using the designation ‘public school’ only for schools that are part of a public school system/district. Charter schools, they say, are not really public schools but are actually an integral part of a growing movement in the United States to privatize American schools. At PFFS we stand with the advocates for public schools and against those who would dismantle public education in America. But we are public schools that have been chartered by the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.
We are open enrollment public schools – not neighborhood public schools – but public school districts across the nation have adopted open enrollment polices/procedures (e.g. Denver Public Schools) and no one is relegating them to non-public school status. Our open enrollment policy uses a random lottery when enrollment exceeds capacity at any grade level.
We are diverse public schools – at PFFS-University in 2013-2014 our student population was 56% white, 37% hispanic, 4% black, 1% asian, and 1% pacific islander. In Pima County where we reside the popuation in 2013 was 54% white, 36% hispanic, 4% black, 3% asian, and and less than 1% pacific islander. We are ‘inclusion’ public schools – our special needs students receive their services/accomodations primarily within the general student population. Special needs students at PFFS-U in 2013-2014 (students with IEPs and 504s) were 22% of our student population.
The two Paulo Freire Freedom Schools are Tucson public schools committed to providing powerful teaching and learning to our community and effective support to other public schools (both district and charter) who are also committed to providing powerful teaching and learning to their communities. We believe that the very existence of Democracy in America depends upon effective public schools that engage all young people in powerful teaching and learning. In this regard we do not support public schools (either district or charter) that use enrollment policies/procedures designed to exclude some young people and include others.
The designation ‘public school’ is not taken lightly here at Paulo Freire Freedom School. In fact, we have grounded ourselves in that legacy. See ‘About PFFS‘.