Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School

Published: 7/8/2021 9:48:28 AM

I followed with interest your recent articles on the union dispute at Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, as well as on the Laroche twins and their successes. (“Protest as charter school axes half its teachers,” June 25, and “Twins’ ‘Two-ition’ fund nears $30K in donations,” June 29). I was principal at PFSJ for three years, and was a founding science teacher at the school, so I know the community very well.

Having a charter focused on social justice was never easy. We deeply explored and questioned ideas of racism in education, and in society more generally, long before the killing of George Floyd and other high-profile acts of racism.

As I often said in family and staff meetings, putting “social justice” in the title of your institution does not magically mean that there is justice. What it does mean is that everyone who walks through the doors is willing to have a conversation about, and for social justice — to call out injustice and to keep working and gaining new tools to make things better.

In fact, my vision for the school — not yet fully realized — was that every student would graduate with a deep understanding of how to effect social change, and the tools to do that work. It saddens me greatly to see so many teachers who have poured their hearts into PFSJ’s students — often when those students had few others who believed in them — are being let go.

Perhaps there are improvements to be made in teaching, but how is it justice for a new executive director to give them only one, strange pandemic year to improve and prove themselves?

PFSJ may be a school, but it has also always been a family. I hope readers will see the story of Angela and Thamarre Laroche and the ways that they have self-advocated for a better future and know that that is the true legacy of our school. It is that spirit and drive for justice that Paulo Freire believed in and that the Paulo Freire School needs to uphold.

Please, support our teachers and our students in any way you can, and know that doing so is a step towards more justice in our Valley.

Kira Jewett


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