Free School Movement Begins

1967

Parents and students across the country push for smaller alternative schools where families participate in choosing the curricula and running the schools. Between 400 and 800 “free” schools – some privately operated, others begun within larger school systems – will open between 1967 and the late 1970s. Inside and outside the alternative schools, there are heated debates over the degree of freedom students should have, how to balance students’ interests and what many consider essential knowledge and skills such as literacy, and whether small, isolated alternative schools are serving the larger goal of education reform or merely hiding from it. Most of these schools eventually fall victim to recurring questions about how to “structure” the schools and the wider push for the teaching of reading and writing fundamentals.