The Center for Education for Liberation serves as a source of academic support and political education that is grounded in Paulo Freire’s philosophy of popular education. Young people have access to one-on-one tutoring and daily meetings with an academic support point person. They are assisted in developing educational goals, completing homework and special assignments and utilizing our college and reading library.
Tutoring and Homework Help
All YMPJ members receive one hour of tutoring daily, working in groups of three or less. Under the supervision of tutors, students work on daily homework assignments and practice reading, writing, and math skills. Students meet regularly with the Education Coordinator to discuss their grades, classes, and teachers, how they are feeling in school, any concerns they have, areas where they are struggling, and what they like and don’t like about school. With the Education Coordinator and tutors, members create plans to improve grades and study skills. They discuss ways to be active participants in their education through talking to teachers, asking questions, and connecting what they are learning to what they experience in their daily lives.
Connecting to Schools and Teachers
In order to provide the most effective academic support possible to our members, YMPJ also builds partnerships with students’ schools and teachers. YMPJ staff members attend parent-teacher conferences and connect with teachers over phone and email on a regular basis. These partnerships allow us to track what students are learning about in each subject, to understand how students are doing in their classes, to fill in gaps between teacher and student expectations, and to figure out ways to supplement what is going on in the classroom with the academic support that provided at YMPJ. At the same time, YMPJ staff members serve as advocates for our members within their schools. In a school system that is underfunded and understaffed, where violence and harassment are a reality, and where students don’t always receive the individual attention they need, students sometimes slip through the cracks or find themselves in unfair or unjust situations. YMPJ staff members meet with teachers, guidance counselors, principals, school social workers, parents, and the students themselves to ensure that our members have access to the resources they need and feel comfortable and supported in their schools.
Planning for the Future
YMPJ members who are in eleventh and twelfth grade receive guidance in applying to college or creating other post-graduation plans. Students have access to a large library of books on applying for financial aid, preparing for the SATs, writing college essays, as well as several books profiling two and four year colleges around the country. Students who are planning to apply to college can use their tutoring time or sign up for appointments on Friday afternoons to look into colleges, practice for the SAT, draft college essays, and fill out college and financial aid applications. Similarly, YMPJ members who are in eighth grade receive guidance in the high school application process. Eighth graders read profiles of high schools throughout New York City, discuss what they want in a high school and work with YMPJ staff to rank their choices. Students who are planning to apply to Specialized High Schools can choose to use their tutoring time to prepare for auditions or high school admissions tests.