Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Escuela Tlatelolco was founded during the Chicano civil rights movement of the 1960s by Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales, Chicano activist and community leader, and it continues to thrive as a private school in Denver, Colorado. Named after the Indian city of Tlatelolco, Mexico and rooted in Aztec history, Escuela Tlatelolco is a community-based school that transforms the pedagogy of oppression into the pedagogy of hope. Its mission is "to liberate the minds of students." Cultural expression and leadership, with emphases on spirituality, moral courage, honorable behavior, and critical thinking, are the values and skills that students are taught, providing them with the means to act upon their world and create social change and justice. Its success has been with those "high risk" students who have failed in traditional public school settings.

Using liberationist Paulo Friere's philosophy, the school's teachers challenge students "to seek out the root causes of oppression." Escuela Tlatelolco's philosophy is based on the understanding that "knowledge without action has no value." It is believed that liberated thinking provides students with avenues to break the social, economic, cultural, and political chains of oppression that keep them in what has been termed "the colonial mentality." Community service is expected, as students engage in changing the social conditions in the community.

Escuela Tlatelolco serves predominantly Chicano and Mexicano youth in prekindergarten through twelfth grade. The newly developed Circulo Montessori de Tlatelolco, a comprehensive, community-based pre-Montessori educational center, serves prekindergarten through sixth grade, while the Academia Institute serves middle-school-age youth. The Segundaria Program serves high-school-age youth and runs on a year-round schedule. Fully 90 percent of Escuela's students graduate from high school.

Ramon del Castillo Denver, Colorado

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