The Philadelphia Student Union at Free Minds, Free People 2013 in Chicago: Sharing our Skills, Learning from Others
This July, the members of the Philadelphia Student Union, thanks to a project stipend from the and a grant from Communities for Public Education Reform, attended the Free Minds, Free People 2013 Conference in Chicago. Free Minds, Free People is a national conference convened by the Education for Liberation Network that brings together teachers, high school and college students, researchers, parents and community-based activists/educators from across the country to build a movement to develop and promote education as a tool for liberation.
Jeremy, Henry, Tiana, Sharron, and Abu. The PSU leaders who went to Chicago for the Free Minds, Free People Conference.
Five members of the Philadelphia Student Union attended the conference, along with staff. Like Philadelphia, Chicago has experienced dozens of school closings this year. At FMFP, we met dozens of other groups who are working to save public education in their cities across the nation and we were able to share and learn with them.
On the first day of FMFP, PSU staff person, Beth and PSU member, Tiana, facilitated a workshop titled Youth Radio 101: Amplifying Youth Voice. We brought our skills and knowledge from our youth-produced radio program, On Blast. During the workshop, we showed young people how to use interviewing as a tool for their campaigns. We talked about the importance of youth media. We also shared our analysis of media as a way to either keep systems of oppression in place or liberate oppressed peoples. Over 40 people attended our workshop, which was really exciting.
Participants in our workshop role-playing an interview about school closings.
The rest of the weekend, we attended workshops from groups like Project South and Coleman Advocates. Workshop topics at FMFP ranged from ending the militarization of our schools to teacher-student relationships. At the end of the conference, PSU member, Sharron was on a panel discussion with teacher and parent organizers and the president of the Chicago Teachers Union, Karen Lewis.
Sharron speaking in front of hundreds on her experience fighting for public schools in Philadelphia.
During our time in Chicago, PSU members formed closer relationships with one another. On our final evening, we went to downtown Chicago and tried deep-dish pizza! The stipend from PYMC allowed us to bring five young people to FMFP. At the Philadelphia Student Union we believe that young people are experts on what they need in their education, so having members of PSU at and event like FMFP is essential. We hope we can attend Free Minds, Free People next year!
The whole Philadelphia Student Union crew in front of the Bean in downtown Chicago.