Freedom & Democracy Curriculum

NACA utilizes the rigorous, innovative "Freedom and Democracy" (F&D) Curriculum.(TM) (Copyright © 2005-2008 Cecil Conteen Gray, Virginia Richardson, Geneva Ferguson, Carolyn Smith, et al), a curriculum characterized by academic rigor, advanced character development, and preparing students to "make a living and a life."(TM) The curriculum is aligned with and exceeds the standards in the Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum (MVSC), and also the federal No Child Left Behind requirements.

NACA's Freedom and Democracy (F&D) Curriculum (TM) combines best lessons and learnings from The Freedom Movement of The 1960s; the most authentic multicultural achievements and accomplishments of The 1960s; and some of the best contemporary curricula - E.D. Hirsch's "Core Knowledge"; James Banks' multicultural education emphasis (1973, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003); Vincent Harding's "Veterans of Hope Project" work ( http://www.veteransofhope.org/ ) materials ; and Robert Moses' "Algebra Project" materials ( http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/content/cntareas/math/ma1algeb.htm ; http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/jan-june00/algebra_6-9.html ); and Cecil Gray's Rites Of Passage Shule work. All of the preceding is held together and propelled by the structure and process -- the "School Development Program"(SDP)/the "Comer Process" -- of Yale University's Dr. James P. Comer.¹

NACA's emphasis on Freedom and Democracy in curriculum, school culture and ethos, after school programming, extracurricular opportunities, and governance stand out from and serve students better than what is currently available. All citizens of adult age - and all "citizens in the making," K-4, K-12, and others who will one day be adult citizens - have and sense an immediate stake in NACA. Parents and partners get excited and realize right away the powerful possibilities of a school centered on and committed to Freedom and Democracy. NACA's holistic emphasis on and commitment to the concepts and realities of Freedom and Democracy energizes students (and parents, and partners) continually. Students are engaged (rather than bored), eager to learn, and positioned to excel. Additionally, students (and parents, and partners) are in step and invested civically. Freedom and Democracy are fundamental and central in our society; and the more connected and invested students are from an early age, the greater the probability they will contribute constructively to our society throughout their lives.

NACA's focus on preparing students to "make a living and a life" (TM) is inspired by the exemplary life, profound teachings, and famous words of Ms. Ella Baker, a legendary educator and organizer of The 1960s Freedom Movement. Relatively unknown to the general public but well known inside The Movement, Ms. Baker -- among numerous historic accomplishments -- was the lead architect, organizer, and builder of (1) the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), the organization that served as the platform for the historic giant, The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., Ph.D.; and (2) the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a group -- at its best comprised of brilliant, brave, young African Americans, Anglo Americans, and other young Americans who helped disenfranchised African Americans (and others) secure the right to vote.²

Finally, NACA's commitment to Freedom and Democracy produces great practical benefits for students (and parents, and partners, and our whole society): during the 1960s Freedom Movement, as turbulent as matters sometimes were, statistics showed the crime rate went down! (See Hope andHistory: Why We Must Share The Story of The Movement , Orbis Books, 1991, by Vincent Harding) This indicates that when students (and citizens) are actively and creatively engaged and participating in Freedom and Democracy, they are quite hopeful and their best constructive energies and efforts emerge.

NACA's Freedom and Democracy Curriculum (TM) includes a Character Development (Copyright © 2004-2008 by Cecil Conteen Gray, Ph.D.) component.³ The Character Development component focuses on the following Core Stance and Its attendant Core Values:

All NACA Team members and NACA supporters are committed to our students making a living (high academic achievement) and making a life (character development). NACA's students, parents, School Director/Principal, faculty, other school staff, business supporters, other community stakeholders, and NACA's board all sign a contract indicating a commitment to learning, enacting/practicing, and embodying the Core Stance and Core Values. The contract is revisited and reflected upon collectively at regular intervals, so that it informs NACA (the institution and the people), as everyone journeys, learns, grows, excels, and succeeds together.

Faculty at each grade level design lessons that teach and cultivate the said Core Stance and Core Values. Weekly self-assessments are performed by students, in class, on Friday mornings. Each student is asked to share her/his self-assessment with a buddy. This helps students learn to reflect on and better their behaviour. Also, teachers write up and send home to parents weekly character development update reports, along with weekly academic reports. Parents read and sign the reports - just as they sign all homework and weekly academic reports - indicating their participation in and commitment to this part of the (w)holistic education their child receives at NACA. Each week, at least two students (one girl, one boy) exemplifying one of the Core Values are recognized and affirmed school-wide. As students move into higher grades, NACA's Character Development Program morphs into a "Freedom and Democracy Leadership Program."

During NACA'S weekly and bi-weekly meetings, students, faculty, administrators, parents, available board members, business supporters, School Director/Principal, faculty, other school staff, students and parents discuss together NACA's Character Development Stance and Values. Thereby, students and all committed to NACA's students' success are continually called/challenged/invited to grow into and embody consistently the traits that make life peaceful, sane, making Freedom.

 

¹ [Please see James P. Comer, Ph.D.'s Leave No Child Behind: Preparing Today's Youth for Tomorrow's World, (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, September 2004); James P. Comer, Norris M. Haynes, Edward T. Joyner and Michael Ben-Avie, eds., Child by Child: The Comer Process for Change in Education , (New York: Teachers College Press, 1999); James P. Comer, Norris M. Haynes, Edward T. Joyner and Michael Ben-Avie, eds., Rallying the Whole Village: The Comer Process for Reforming Education, (New York: Teachers College Press, 1996); and numerous other works.]

² See Joanne Grant, Ella Baker: Freedom Bound , (New York: Wiley, 1998); and see Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, ed., A Circle of Trust -- Remembering SNCC , (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1998). Also see Vickie L. Crawford, Jacqueline Anne Rouse, and Barbara Woods, eds., "Ella Baker and the Origins of 'Participatory Democracy,' " in Women in The Civil Rights Movement: Trailblazers and Torchbearers 1941-1965 , (Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1993), pp. 50-71. Also see Deborah Menkart, Alana D. Murray, and Jenice View, eds., Putting the Movement Back into Civil Rights Teaching: A Resource Guide for Classrooms and Communities, (Washington, DC: Teaching for Change and the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, 2004). Also see Septima Poinsette Clark, Ready From Within: Septima Clark and The Civil Rights Movement , (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 1990); Velma Maia Thomas, We Shall Not Be Moved , (New York: Crown Publishers/Random House Inc., 2002); Herbert Randall, Faces of Freedom Summer, (Tuscaloosa, Alabama and London: The University of Alabama Press, 2001); Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero , (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books,1999); Kaye Mills, This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer , (New York: Plume/Penguin Books, USA, 1993); and others.

³ Part of NACA's Character Development program includes all NACA students wearing a simple, appropriate school uniform. Free uniforms are available for children/families wherein the matter is a financial burden, and a clean uniform is always available at NACA if emergencies arise. NACA's school uniform helps maintain the peaceful school culture.

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