Freedom School offers alternative to budget-slashed LAUSD summer school


Class is out for the summer for L.A. County public schools. The fields are empty, but the learning continues at Foshay Learning Center. You can hear it; you can even feel it.

Welcome to Freedom School, a fun-filled energy-packed summer reading enrichment program that teaches elementary, middle and high school students a love for reading.

"When you come here it gives you a chance to let your energy out and gain energy," said student Mackenzie Burch.

Every day starts with empowering sing-a-longs to build the children's self-esteem. That's followed by a reading by a guest speaker, and then classes.

This year at least 95 percent of LAUSD summer schools were slashed because of budget woes. To help fill that void Community Coalition is operating eight of what they call "Freedom Schools" locally. It's organized by the national Children's Defense Fund program, which benefits primarily underprivileged Latino and African-American students.

Jessie Fernandez is proof the program works. Years back he was one of the children. Now he's a student leader who's also working on his bachelor's degree.

"It's doubly fulfilling and meaningful for me to be able to come back and provide an alternative positive model of education," said Fernandez.

Mackenzie Burch invites all to join her.

"They could learn and they probably wouldn't know that they were learning," she said. "They would probably just be having fun."

In the end that's what it's all about.

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