Reflections on “La Escuela Fratney”

Usually I reserve a post for reflecting on an entire book, but the second chapter of “Democratic Schools” edited by Michael Apple and James Beane is worthy of it’s own contemplation.La Escuela Fratney

La Escuela Fratney is a bilingual (english and spanish) K-4 school on Fratney St in Milwaukee,WI. The school was founded by the negotiations of both local politics and a grass roots community groups (like the NNF, Neighbors for New Fratney). Central to the theme of the school lies a deep commitment to fostering unity among a diverse intercultural neighborhood school by valuing the individual value of the students and parents while instituting collaborative governance that deeply involves the local families.

A number of specific items impressed me:

  • Two part-time, later one full time staff, were hired for the express purpose of recruiting parents to get involved.
  • Use the whole language learning method results in exceptionally high interest in reading and writing including the formation of a section of the library dedicated to student authored books.
  • Agility and time given to school strategy and initiatives such as the no-TV week challenge (and resulting critical media literacy projects to understand the hidden messages in media) and the clever idea to start school 10 minutes early every day so once a week student can go home early and give teachers a half-day to strategize together.
  • The dedication of the staff to mentor students into mature responsible individuals by taking the time to process things like discipline issues in class and through discussion.

I suggest to get the book even if just for this one chapter.

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