The Education for Liberation Network Mission and Vision
The Education for Liberation Network is a national coalition of teachers, community activists, researchers, youth and parents who believe a good education should teach people—particularly low-income youth and youth of color—how to understand and challenge the injustices their communities face. The network aims to help improve the practice of Education for Liberation by bringing people together to learn from each other’s experiences. The network provides a space for members to share knowledge and work together to create tools for liberatory education. By building alliances that cross the boundaries of geography, occupation and age we hope to nurture communities of thoughtful, socially-engaged people and to maximize the impact of their work.
EdLib is a national network founded and primarily facilitated by folks of color, that focuses on liberatory education by connecting a spectrum of members through the honest love and work of communities. We are an empowering and welcoming community that both inspires people and helps them learn and grow in ways that support a more just society. EdLib is a sustaining network that provides opportunity and resources to increase and connect collective efforts toward building local power. Ergo, the network shifts the national conversation to one in which community organizing and collaboration are fundamental to education.
EdLib connects People
Education for Liberation prepares the most disenfranchised members of our society, in particular low-income youth and youth of color, to fight for a more just world by:
Teaching young people the causes of inequalities and injustices in society and how communities have fought against them.
Having the young people develop both the belief in themselves that they can challenge those injustices and the skills necessary to do that.
Supporting young people in taking action that leads to disenfranchised communities having more power.
We aim to build a community in which members:
- Are active in developing the practice of Education for Liberation.
- Interact with each other as equals with the understanding that all of us—regardless of what we do or who we are—are both teachers and learners.
- Are prepared to challenge ourselves and each other to figure out the most effective methods of reaching our goals. We encourage an active dialogue between on-the-ground experience and analytical research.
- Have the space they need to imagine a new, better world.
As educators and learners committed to the struggle for equality and justice we hope to:
- Build individual and community awareness of the internal and external forces (psychological, historical, social, political and economic) that impact our daily lives.
- Cultivate cultural knowledge and pride and encourage a positive sense of personal and collective identity.
- Place education in a context of the struggle for social justice and connect it to action that leads to social change.
- Increase the number of people and organizations practicing Education for Liberation and help them become better at it.
- Promote the transformation of existing institutions and the creation of new ones that reflect the values of Education for Liberation.
Across the country educators are increasingly frustrated with a system of education that disadvantages low-income youth and youth of color. Many are trying to fight back by developing their own curricula and methods that reflect both their care for young people and their ideas about justice and fairness. But these educators often find themselves isolated, with few resources, little support and limited connection to others who share their concerns.
The Education for Liberation Network aims to bring together this diverse group of people, united by their passion for this work, to learn and build strength from each other. This is a critical first step in the process of transforming ourselves from a collection of individuals trying to make a difference in our neighborhoods or schools into a strong movement for education justice.
The Education for Liberation Network started in 1999 after a panel led by Dr. Charles Payne on the topic of liberatory education at an American Educational Research Association conference generated a particularly large response. These early members came together as a way of combating the isolation that many educators doing this work experience.
From 1999 to 2006 the network existed primarily as an informal listserv. In 2007 some members began taking the network to the next level, from a listserv of interested people to an organization that actively supports the development of individuals and groups that practice education for liberation. This transition was led by Tara Mack and a volunteer advisory board whose members are more than 85 percent people of color. An initial conference centering young people and those who work with them was convened in Chicago in the summer of 2007, we called it the Free Minds, Free People Conference. Since then the Network has been connecting on-the-ground educators and activists to exchange and learn from each other in a number of ways. We are building power from the ground up.
The network currently has more than 1300 members who reflect a diverse collection of educational institutions and organizations: public schools serving elementary through high school students; local and national youth organizations such as the Chicago Freedom School, the Young People’s Project, the Philadelphia Student Union, the Baltimore Algebra Project and Make the Road by Walking; teacher organizing groups including the New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE) and Teachers for Social Justice in Chicago; policy organizations such as the New York Civil Liberties Union and Justice Matters in California; as well as colleges and universities, including professors from the University of San Francisco, University of Pittsburgh and Harvard University.