South Side Freedom School

Course catalog
January 7 - March 28

Winter 2013

Science, restorative justice, yoga, gardening, media literacy, creative writing, civic engagement, multimedia production, and more!

Education is a human right

Welcome to the South Side Freedom School! We

are happy you have found us. We are a group of Chicago residents who are taking our education into our own hands. We are young and old, from all kinds of backgrounds, and with a variety of interests. What we have in common is a belief that education is a human right, not something you should be "rewarded" with in exchange for conforming to the expectations of the system or a special gift given to you by "experts" who have deemed you worthy. We believe everyone is an educator and everyone is a learner. When we pool our resources together and teach one another and learn together, something powerful happens that often does not happen in the CPS classroom - joyful learning. This coursebook describes the classes available in the months of January through March as of the latest printing of this catalog. Courses may have been added since then and workshops are constantly in development, so consider this an introduction to what we offer. This book may also be missing you! What skills could you contribute to the community? What have you always wanted to learn about? Chances are, there are other people who want to learn from you and with you. Contact us and join the community at the Freedom School.

What we know can free us
South Side Freedom School
6026 S. Vernon Ave.

Current Events, Mondays through Thursdays, 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m., Marissa Brown, facilitator

The Current Events class will grab stories out of daily news outlets, analyze the content and discuss how it relates to our daily lives (if at all). The student will take away the habit of regularly reading beyond the headline of a story to its content and gain an understanding of the difference between what is reported as news and what is happening in the world around us.

Writing & Language, Mondays and Wednesdays, 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m., facilitator to be announced

Take your writing abilities to greater heights through the writing and language course. The facilitator will explore both the fundamentals and the vast possibilities of the written word. All ages and levels of experience and interest are welcome. We all can benefit from sharpening our writing ability, both personally and professionally.

Budding geometers! Explore questions of shape, size, relative position of figures, and the properties of space. Learn how to translate shapes into numbers. Polynomials, radicals, and planes await your curiosity.
Astronomy, Mondays, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Marissa Brown, facilitator

Algebra and Geometry, Mondays and Wednesdays, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., David Olo and Marissa Brown, facilitators

Astronomy will explore the Earth's place in the solar system and more in this exciting course that will introduce participants to the remarkable universe we live in.

Neuroscience, Mondays, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., David Olo, facilitator

Although we may never reach the valley floor of the depths of our own minds, there is still a lot to learn even from what is offered on the surface. The purpose of this class will be to give students some basic working knowledge of the human brain as well as some insight into our cognition (how information is represented, processed, and transformed) as the framework for which we will tumble down the proverbial rabbit hole and learn simultaneously as a group just what exactly goes on behind the scenes and why.
GUM (Grammar Usage and Mechanics), Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m., Marissa Brown, facilitator

GUM classes will focus on the mechanics of language and making effective sentences. We will work in coordination with the writing and language class to provide a wraparound writing experience for students.
World Management & Global Thinking, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:00 a.m.-noon, Winbush, facilitator

World Management & Global Thinking is an opportunity to better understand the World we live in and how it operates. The primary aim of this course is to expand the learner’s knowledge of the history of the Peoples of the United States, and how geography and geology influence historic events, inventions, and institutions. The WMGT students shall make critical examinations of our modern society and its origins through historical research, topical discussions, and other resource data. We will more clearly define the importance of knowing the interwoven influence of geology and geography on the Human Development locally & globally and explore ways we can make the world a better place for all.

Our heritage ... our legacy
The South Side Freedom School is named after the freedom schools that catalyzed the Civil Rights Movement in the South in the 1 960s. Here is a brief history of the origins and purpose of the Freedom Schools, available at

By Kathy Emery, Sylvia Braselmann and Linda Reid Gold In the summer of l964, forty-one Freedom Schools opened in the churches, on the back porches, and under the trees of Mississippi. The students were native Mississippians, averaging fifteen years of age, but often including small children who had not yet begun school to the elderly who had spent their lives laboring in the fields. Their teachers were volunteers, for the most part still students themselves. The task of this small group of students and teachers was daunting. They set out to replace the fear of nearly two hundred years of violent control with hope and organized action. Both students and teachers faced the possibility, and in some cases, the reality, of brutal retaliation from local whites. They had little money and few supplies. Yet the Freedom Schools set out to alter forever the state of Mississippi, the stronghold of the Southern way of life. The schools were an integral part of the 1 964 Mississippi Summer Project (later known as Freedom Summer). The Summer Project was designed by an umbrella organization called the Council of Federated Organizations. COFO was an organization coordinating the efforts of representatives from the four major civil rights groups. For example, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) provided lawyers for those thrown in jail when they participated in voter registration drives and civil disobedience. The Congress on Racial Equality (CORE) helped organized community centers. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) had established the Citizen Education Program in Mississippi the year before Freedom Summer. The Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “snick”) provided the field workers that went to the most dangerous parts of Mississippi to register voters. Freedom Summer was also supported the National Council of Churches, and during the summer volunteers of the Medical Committee for Human Rights, and lawyers from a variety of groups worked in Mississippi. The long-term aim of Freedom Summer was to transform the power structure of Mississippi. The short-term aim of the summer project was to challenge the legitimacy of the all white Mississippi Democratic Party at the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City in August of 1 964. To do this, organizers needed to create a parallel state party that was truly representative of the people of Mississippi—both blacks and whites. To create a truly representative political party, the vast majority of disempowered African Americans would need to develop the self confidence and organizational skills required of active citizens. Freedom Summer’s three programs, distinct yet reinforcing each other, were voter registration, Freedom Schools and Community Centers (see Prospectus for the Mississippi Freedom Summer.) The Freedom Schools’ major contribution to that process

Our heritage ... our legacy - page 2
was to implement a curriculum based on the asking of questions whose answers were sought within the lives of the students. As the curriculum itself states: We are going to talk about a lot of things: about Negro people and white people, about rich people and poor people, about the South and about the North, about you and what you think and feel and want. . . . And we’re going to try to be honest with each other and say what we believe. . . . We’ll also ask some questions and try to find some answers. The first thing is to look around, right here, and see how we live in Mississippi. Under the direction of Staughton Lynd, professor at Spelman College, the schools were established to teach confidence, voter literacy and political organization skills as well as academic skills. The curriculum was directly linked to the formation of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. As Edwin King, who ran for Lieutenant Governor on the MFDP ticket, stated, “Our assumption was that the parents of the Freedom School children, when we met them at night, that the Freedom Democratic Party would be the PTA.” Both the schools and the Summer Project set about to support black Mississippians in naming the reality of their lives and then in changing that reality. The classroom and voter registration became one; both began with the lives of the people of Mississippi and, for both, “questioning (was) the vital tool.” The questions raised struck at the most fundamental assumptions white Americans held about themselves and the institutions they had created.

Cultural Awareness for Youth, Tuesdays, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Marissa Brown, facilitator

This class is intended to raise awareness of the different cultures around us. We will explore how our society treats theses culturally different groups (sometimes good, sometimes not so good). We are all different but diversity should be celebrated; after all, if we were all the same the world would be pretty boring! In a society where people are not treated equally, we all must work together to be upstanders for those who are mistreated based on physical and cultural differences. In this class we will participate in discussions, perform activities, conduct projects, and hear from a variety of people from different cultural backgrounds. This is a course that is suitable for all ages with a focus on elementary school age children. Skills this course will promote and foster are critical thinking, compassion, empathy, observation, research, and self-confidence.
Restorative Justice, Tuesdays, 4:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m., Jacob Klippenstein, facilitator

In this class we will learn a people's history of the criminal justice system in this country and how it's used to oppress poor communities, communities of color, LGBT communities and other minority groups. We will also learn about the value of both restorative and transformative justice, including their origins and how they are currently practiced in our neighborhoods and around Chicago. One practice that will be central to the class is the use of circles. These circles will be value based, so that we can all participate fully and share our best selves with each other. In the circles we will use a talking piece so that one person is talking and everybody else is listening. Local practitioners of RJ/TJ will be an integral part of this class. And we will practice techniques in class in an effort to spread this radical practice to the rest of our lives, whether that is at our schools, workplace or in the streets.

The purpose of this course is to foster a community of students who want to learn computer science and programming. We will utilize online resources such as MOOCs (Massively Open Online Course), while providing an opportunity to discuss and share in person. The content will be self directed where each student chooses their topics and sets their own learning goals.

Computer Programming, Tuesdays, 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m., April Peterson, facilitator

Creative Writing, Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., Vicktoriya Kamara, facilitator

The purpose of this class is to show students how writing can be used as a tool for self reflection. Writing can provide the freedom, perspective, and safe space needed to be honest with oneself. Through a series of interactive written and verbal exercises/games students will be asked to explore their thoughts, feelings, experiences, and imagination, helping them to better understand themselves. Hopefully, at the end of the course, students will have gained confidence in freestyle/journal writing and sharing their thoughts with others. Calligraphy will be taught to students who would like to record a portion of their journal as a finished piece to share with others.
Basics of Environmental Science, Wednesdays, 4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., Voloria Noland, facilitator

This 5 part workshop will focus on environmental conservation tactics, defining and planning ways of going green, and looking at local efforts to save our planet. This class will consist of a nature walk, video presentations and group discussions and activities.
Interdisciplinary studies, Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m., A.J. Segneri, facilitator

This course will offer multiple topics on a quarter by quarter basis. During this course participants will be able to learn how to conduct research, conduct presentations, and draft research writing papers.

Health and Fitness, Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m., David Olo, facilitator

There is a well known quote that says "The mind is a terrible thing to waste," but the mind is nothing without the body, so it is paramount that we take care of ourselves and each other so that we can live full and happy lives. Nutrition, and dietary changes will be a big focal point, but it will be emphasized to exercise for at least 1 5 minutes for this class, even if it is a light workout. Too often in our fast paced culture we don't find the time to exercise, so this class will seize the opportunity to carve those pesky 1 5 minutes out of your day for you.
Civic Engagement, Thursdays, 5:00 p.m.-6:30 p.m., A.J. Segneri, facilitator

This course is going to examine how governments from the local to international level operate. Those participating in this course will have a better understand how government works and have discussion on the topics in the political arena.
Gardening From the Ground Up, Saturdays, 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m., Gabriel Piemonte, facilitator

Everything we are is bound up with the soil and its fruits. Using the soon-to-be-opened Freedom Garden across the street and the Abundance Project gardens at 64th Street and Kimbark Avenue as laboratories, we will explore all the basics behind garden creation and cultivation, from building raised beds to soil composition to seed starting to planting and tending vegetables.

We will also look at the relationship between our cultural and political realities and the food we eat, discussing Genetically Modified Organisms, seeds as revolutionary tools, and the future of food. No experience is necessary, but all wisdom is welcome!

Sustainability, Saturdays, 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m., David Olo, facilitator

This collaborative course will only be initiated by the facilitator and then handed over to the participants. It will be a very hands on approach to understanding the waste we produce as individuals and a community and ways that we and change that and combat harmful environmental habits. Some times "clean energy" means getting down and dirty first.

Course schedule


Q: Are you all a “Real” school? A: Yes we are! Our day time program is essentially a home school network that provides parents and students with the space and tools they need to educate their children themselves with the support of a full volunteer staff. South Side Chicago Freedom School (SSCFS) does not conform to the traditional school standards consisting of letter grades, standardized testing, suspensions and the one-size-fits-all model. The Illinois School Code (1 05 ILCS 5/26-1 et seq.) and the Illinois Supreme Court held that home-schooling is completely legal, provided that the teacher (either the parent her or himself or a private tutor) are competent, the required subjects were taught, and the student received an education at least equivalent to public schooling. (People v. Levisen, 404 Ill. 574 (1 950), SSCFS meets all of these requirements. Q: How much time must the student spend on home-schooling? A: Illinois law does not set any minimum number of hours per day, or days of instruction per year, for students in private/ home schools. However, the Illinois courts have ruled that homeschooling must provide an education that is equivalent with the standards set for public schools. (e.g. Scoma v. Chicago Board of Education, 391 F.Supp. 452 (N.D. Ill. 1 974)). Q: Are there any testing requirements for students enrolled in an Illinois home school? A: There is no requirement that students in a home school be tested. If parents choose to administer tests to their children to assess their progress, they are not required to submit the results to any school official. Q: My child is currently attending a public school. Is there a formal procedure I must follow to withdraw him/her from school to begin home-schooling? A: No it is not, although it is highly recommended that you give the public school a dated letter (keeping copies for your records) that states you will be withdrawing your student to place him/her in a private school. Such a letter indicates your intent to continue your student’s education and will make it less likely that the school reports your student to county officials as truant after a prolonged absence. Q: Can you provide more information and resources for home-schooling? A: Here are some of the resources available to parents and others interested in home-schooling: • Your public library should have information on home-school groups in your area as well as state-wide or national home schooling associations. Some or all of these contacts may share information on home-schooling textbooks, study guides, homework materials, and curricula. Your library would also have information on home-schooling magazines and books. • The Internet has thousands of links to home-schooling information ranging from suppliers of home-schooling materials to home-schooling “e-zines” and support groups to research studies and legal analyses. Parents interested in purchasing a home-schooling curriculum or related materials through the Internet are advised to first research the products, and their claims, as they would do before making other types of on-line purchases. • Your Regional Office of Education may have information on local home-schooling organizations as well as links to state and/or national organizations. For a directory of Regional Offices see: • You may have friends, neighbors and/or relatives who are home-schooling their children and would be willing to share their experiences with you.

FAQs - page 2

Q: Is there financial assistance available to help with the costs of home-schooling? A: The State Board of Education is not aware of any financial resources designed to help parents meet home-schooling expenses. South Side Chicago Freedom School, however, is completely free of charge for all classes. Q: My home-schooled student is completing the equivalent of 8th grade. Is s/he entitled to receive an 8th grade diploma from his local public school and/or take part in the graduation program? A: No. Since your student is attending private school full-time he has no legal right to participate in public school graduation ceremonies. This is why SSCFS offers an Accomplishment Ceremony to commemorate the accomplishment of entering the next educational stage in life at both the 8th grade & high school levels. Q: Who are the facilitators? A: All of our teachers - or, as we call ourselves, facilitators - are 1 00% volunteer. We are Chicago residents with a variety of backgrounds who are willing to contribute to the learning experience of students of all ages. Q: How is a house instead of a school building an effective learning environment? A: While we utilize free spaces around the city, we are primarily operating out of a restored greystone house. By holding classes in a home instead of a more traditional class setting we familiarize students with the concept that learning can and should take place everywhere, not just in a classroom. Q: If I decide to enroll (or re-enroll) my student in public school after a period of homeschooling or other private schooling, how will his work be evaluated by the public school? A: The individual school will determine grade placement for the student based on an evaluation of his/her work and pursuant to its policies. Public schools may prefer to focus on appropriate grade placement for the student rather than assigning individual course credits. However, the district may not make a placement decision that is unreasonable or arbitrary. (For example, a public school cannot require a home school program to be “registered” or “recognized” through the State Board of Education since the School Code excludes home schools from this voluntary process.). Q: Can a home-schooled student return for the 1 2th grade and graduate? A: Yes, if the public school determines that the combination of credits awarded for work done at the home school and credits earned in an accredited private or public school meet state graduation requirements and if the student passes any other reasonable requirements after reenrolling in the public school. Q: How do colleges evaluate the work of a student whose high school diploma was received through a private home school? A: Many colleges and universities have procedures for admitting home-schooled students and for assessing their background. For example, here is information from the University of Illinois:

"I am a mother of 4 children who have been participating in the public school system for the last 1 5 years. Additionally, I myself am a “product” of the Chicago Public School system. "While my daughters have always excelled in school and have been deemed “good” students, my son has never enjoyed the traditional educational structure. Over the years I have tried a variety of ways to educate my son; he has attended public, charter & parochial schools. All of these models have been unable to get him excited about education. I’ve seen the hurt & frustration that not being able to keep up academically with his peers has caused him. Last school year after having my son negatively impacted by the CPS “Zero Tolerance Policy” I decided to take ownership of the role of primary educator of my children. "The South Side Chicago Freedom School is the medium in which this educational journey begins for my family. In this space we are able to manage the classes in which we participate. In Freedom School there are no As nor Fs. There are no standardized tests to hog learning time. There are no “wrong” answers. Critical thinking is encouraged and infused into all of the courses that are led by volunteer instructors. Freedom School is 1 00% free to attend and led by volunteers who are passionate and enthusiastic about sharing their knowledge in their respective fields. "Parents are an intricate part of Freedom School and a driving force behind the development of classes. It is great to be able to share learning with my children in a “hands on” way that encourages the growth and development of all who participate. We are happy here and I am confident that I have made the right choice to protect my children’s educational future."
­ Marissa Brown, Parent & Freedom School Volunteer

"For me, it has nothing to do with jobs, or the economic impact of an unskilled workforce, or competing for technological jobs overseas, or being able to combat the most pressing issues facing our society today. For me it is about humanity, our humanity, and I think we've lost sight of education's role in it. Beneath the layers of skin, the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones, cells and neurons, there is something intrinsically unique that transcends biology and defines us as human. It is a type of spirituality that feeds off of our own curiosity and we are starving ourselves to death by limiting access to not only education, but raw information itself. So I'm here to unleash as much of it out into the world as possible, because as one man I can only do so much, but if I can empower 1 0 people to reshape the world around us I would have given us a 1 000% better chance of bringing that better world into being rather than just busting my butt for a piece of paper that would satiate my self-esteem to know that I'm qualified to perform certain tasks."
­ David "Olo," Freedom School Volunteer

Education is a human right

About Us
Mission Statement

The South Side Chicago Freedom School offers quality, no-cost, volunteer-run, community-based educational opportunities for people of all ages through the city of Chicago. Classes and workshops directly respond to neighborhood and community specific desires and needs. The South Side Chicago Freedom School also acts as a nexus of information and opportunities for the broader community of Chicago's education based organizations. The South Side Chicago Freedom School believes that all community members are also teachers and that therefore anyone can teach a class. This fundamental faith and belief in the worth of existing stores of knowledge within our own community supports our mission to encourage the growth of grassroots educational opportunities.

1 . Come everyday with a new question and leave with a different one. 2. The optimal class is one where both student and facilitator are able to step outside of their comfort zone and learn from their experience. 3. When in doubt, err on the risky side. 4. Passion, not progress, is what is most valued. 5. It is not what you know, it is what you apply.
Relationship to Occupy

The Occupy Freedom School is autonomous from Occupy although this project is the brain child of a member of Occupy The South Side in Chicago, but it doesn't just stop there. Many of the volunteers have been or currently involved with Occupy to some capacity. The Freedom School is run essentially in the same manner: horizontally organized and through direct democracy, meaning that there is no single "leader", rather each person that gets involved is encouraged to be a leader, and each person is given equal standing and all voices are heard and respected. Many within the Occupy movement and the school believe that education is a human right and is much more than a piece of paper, or a means to a job. It is this unique relationship with the Occupy movement that makes us stand out because we aren't simply looking to provide a useful service to the community but we envision this to be the first step in many when it comes to shifting the education paradigm from the business model that treats students and knowledge as commodities to the academic which views knowledge and information as that which should be shared and free to access by all to improve your own life and the lives around you.

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