The Community Coalition Freedom School
Day of Social Action: Our Community Needs More Freedom Schools
Seventy lucky South LA elementary and middle school children participating in Community Coalition’s first-ever Freedom School summer literacy program met with local officials, including Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy, for a Los Angeles Day of Social Action on
Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.
During the Day of Social Action youth and parents shared testimony with public officials and special guests about the impact the program has had on their lives, family and community. Parents and students also raised the need for more high-quality summer programming in South LA. The morning program at King Park began with the daily Harambee - a ritual of self-affirmation and preparation for the day of learning and reading ahead, and was followed by a special program featuring Supervisor Ridley-Thomas who read “Muhammad Ali: Champion of the World.” The program concluded with a special activity of civic engagement by the children.
What is Freedom Schools?
Freedom Schools is part of the national Children’s Defense Fund Program. This year Community Coalition is running one of the seven local sites in the Los Angeles area, including Long Beach, Lynwood and Inglewood. The Community Coalition site is located at Foshay Learning Center in the King Park neighborhood as part of the organization’s ongoing efforts to bring quality, engaging programs to the community that will help reduce violence, improve lives and transform the neighborhood.
The Community Coalition Freedom School is a summer reading enrichment program that teaches elementary and middle school students from South LA a love for reading while improving their reading skills, increasing their knowledge of Civil Rights history and boosting their self esteem.
Why is Freedom Schools Important?
National studies have shown that due to the lack of summer reading programs, low-income students are 3 ½ grade levels behind their more advantaged peers by the 9th grade. According to a recent RAND study, summer learning loss is cumulative, and over time contributes to the achievement gap in reading between low-income and higher-income students. Due to the cuts in public education, LAUSD summer classes were cancelled for elementary and middle school students in 2009, 2010 and 2011. LAUSD’s summer school budget went from $54 million just five years ago to only $3 million this year, according to a recent article by the LA Daily News. “Cuts to public schools tend to hit South LA schools the hardest with devastating impacts on our students,” says Marqueece Harris-Dawson, President and CEO of Community Coalition. “But high-quality programming like Freedom Schools can prevent learning loss and prepare our students to begin the new academic year with sharpened skills so that they don’t fall behind.”
The Community Coalition Freedom School enrolled 70 elementary and middle school students from July 5 – August 12, 2011.
The Community Coalition Freedom School was made possible by the generous financial support of philanthropist family JJ Abrams and Katie McGrath and the support of Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Any donation is welcome and needed to ensure that the program continues to Summer 2012. For more information, please contact Community Coalition at (323) 750-9087.
Watch our Freedom School Scholars do their daily Harambee in the morning.
Check out the Community Coalition Freedom School in the news:
South LA Students Make Mark with Art, South LA Report, Aug. 6, 2011
Freedom School Help Inner City Kids Read, NBC 4 LA, Aug. 2, 2011
Public Officials to Visit Community Coalition Freedom School, SCPR Radio, Aug. 1, 2011