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Village Free School Begins School Construction

It is commonly thought that a school is a building that warehouses children, teenagers and adults for a certain clock controlled period, as if it is a mandatory stage before work or between careers. However, there are others, educated on the principles of free education, and on the works of some radical philosophers in education (Illich, Ferrer, Robin, Freire and Kozol, for example); who also understand that organizers, students and teachers are human beings, and that each person has his/her particular needs and desires for an open learning environment.
This openness to new ideas, mixed with community organizing, has brought forth a vision to create some positive change in the world. These same organizers, families, teachers, students and community members have also been troubled by the recent tales and expos?s of corrupt practices inside the Portland Board of Education; by the Oregon state's refusal to fund poorer school districts in the city; and by the US government "testing intervention" in the state schools; not to mention, the current and recurring disease of segregated schools that routinely shaft economically disadvantaged students. These concerned citizens have taken the responsibility to form a decent alternative school for the city of Portland: they are calling it the Village School. The school will be open to students from all ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. No student will be turned away due to lack of money. This school will emphasize trust, free choice and community building between parents, teachers and students; all three groups will have responsibility in governing the school functions. This governance will be completely democratic: one vote per person, conducted in voluntary meetings, and it will be for all members of the school community. The learning environment will be self directed, led by the students and assisted by the staff teachers. Staff assistance will only come through the requests of the students. This is essential, in that the student can then develop self-responsibility and self-empowerment, if learning is to really take place. Students can, and often do find mentors outside the school ambience; this is also OK. The students are not ranked by age, nor separated by grades or "aptitude levels." There will also be no imposed curriculum from outside, which is often at odds with the community. Generally, the student is given the freedom to develop his/her own capacities. This freedom does not entitle "a free for all," nor is it a system of chaos, as some detractors would love to point out. Instead, it allows the students to engage with each other, and with the staff, in an open manner regarding their educational decisions. This method is truly the opposite of the "public" state and parochial school labyrinths/prisons, which apply stifling rules and out-dated testing in the place of true learning and real education. The current system often bullies with negative reinforcement and excessive examinations - before education can take place. These sinister formats lead to the chaos and state of confusion of where we are today. A mature individual knows that it is something quite personal in choosing specific studies; this cannot be accomplished, nor will it ever succeed, if it is done under coercion. Real learning leads on to Liberation. The organizers of the Village School have found that all people in a school environment can learn from each other; not just confined to the top-down format, which most of us are so aware of from our own educational and employment experiences. The Free School understands that living and learning are the same, and they are looking for like-minded community members in helping them in the project. Furthermore, the School wants to sustain itself on ecological principles: through recycling, composting and gardening; and it hopes to sustain itself economically through tuition (for those who can afford) grants and fundraising. Meetings are normally scheduled once per month, and there are potluck meals at people's houses. If you are interested in helping out with the organizing, then you can check out the website: www.thevillagefreeschool.org.

homepage: homepage: http://www.thevillagefreeschool.org

Age group? 28.Apr.2004 20:52


What age range of children will the school be facilitating?

Good Idea 29.Apr.2004 06:15


The best education is locally controlled. The input and consumption of education is too critical to delegate to outside interests. Makes for great creative thinking and the free enterprise system is what makes America strong.

This Is The Worst Sort Of Leftist Nonsense... 30.Apr.2004 09:43


because it is fundamentally hurting the children. Kids thrive within well-constructed boundaries and a learning environment that rewards performance. This reflects the real world. Essentially you will be placing these kids at a great disadvantage in order to fulfill your socialist ambitions.

Of course my rant is not necessary because this Village School idea is so stupid that it will not succeed. Here is why...

1. No funding from the establishment and no tuition. Now there is a premise that a leftist can really get excited about. No financial support means no go. Dead On Arrival.

2. No Imposed Curriculum. I suppose this means that if Johnny doesn't want to learn to read or write or perform basic math then that would be acceptable???

By the way... I am certain that the kiddies will get an ample dose of leftist propaganda in the guise of "Social Studies".

Here is a bumper sticker for my Suburban... "My honor roll student will never hire your Village School Moron".

Note to children of Portland socialists: Good luck to you in the real world. Your parents are a bunch of utopian dopers willing to screw your life up as much as their own.

When will unrealistic and irresponsible people stop reproducing?

A long history of success 30.Apr.2004 12:36

A friend of The Village

Wow, Paul, it is clear to me that you don't pay much attention to history or at least have a very warped sense of it. Freeschools are not a new concept. In fact they have a very rich tradition of producing strong, capable, and freethinking individuals. Which, sadly, is more than I can say for the U.S. public schools. I have taught history in the public schools. You want to talk about propaganda? Pick up a middle school history text book and count how many strong female figures you can find, and you can use your other hand to count them, cause you'll only need one. The real world? Leaving aside all the psyschological damage that public schools perpetuate in our society, I would implore you to stop running your mouth off for a second and take a look at the No Child Left Behind Act. Take a good look and then tell me how much of a future kids in poor public schools have. Disadvantage? My kids will be happy and lead fulfilling lives of their choosing. As for the reactionary tone of your letter, I can only surmise that it stems from a deep seated anger caused by the realization that your life is a sad one, but it didn't have to be if only you were given more compassion and more choices at a younger age. You should stop by The Village sometime, it'll do you some good.

I waste my time with you because I care about you. And thats what my real world is about.

A Friend Of The Village 03.May.2004 23:00


Thanks for the reply...

For the record, I am a very happy individual. Thanks for caring... I think. This is possibly due to the fact that my parents (both public educators) had the intelligence to send me and my four siblings to parochial schools with very rigid curriculum.

My Jesuit high school was established in 1851... that was 153 years ago. The school has produced many fine students over the years. The school motto is... Men For Others.

Public schools are a DISASTER. The Democrats want to pour BILLIONS more into this failed system. Why? I advocate competition within the education industry. Why are there so few viable options for parents dismayed by public schools?

I applaud your willingness to develop an alternative the public schools, but caution you not to create a curriculum predicated upon liberal mind-think bullshit. Set the standards high, hold kids accountable and watch them thrive.

I am a HUGE supporter of private, charter and independent schools. Society's reliance on public schools is a big problem. I believe that a voucher system based on economic need may be the answer to the iron grip that public schools have on most Americans.

Good luck with the Village School. My only concern is the leftist curriculum that will not serve the students well in the real world.

website 26.Apr.2005 23:48

shadow pan panther_of_shadows@myrealbox.com

Hey, I'm curious about all this as a current HS student..but, y'alls got a working web address? All I'm getting is an Intelenet Phone page banner. It seems nearly impossible to find working info on this project..thanks, ~SP

Website 16.Jun.2005 17:26

Lori Letterhos@yahoo.com

The real website url for The Village Freeschool is


This was published in a more recent Indymedia article -  http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/05/316775.shtml