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Exploring Family School Records, 1969-1983 | Special Collections & University Archives

By Scott W. Woods

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Collection Overview

Title: Exploring Family School Records, 1969-1983Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Exploring Family School (1969-1983)

Extent: 5.0 Linear Feet


I. Board and Committee Minutes

II. Staff Notes and Yearbooks

III. Publications and Information

IV. Underground and Radical Ephemera

Date Acquired: 11/12/1984

Subjects: Exploring Family School (San Diego, Calif.)--Archives, Exploring Family School (San Diego, Calif.)--History--Sources, Free schools--California--San Diego--History--20th century--Sources, San Diego (Calif.)--Intellectual life--Sources, San Diego (Calif.)--Social life and customs--Sources

Forms of Material: Organizational Records

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Exploring Family School collection documents the founding, curriculum, and thirteen year operation of Exploring Family School (EFS). It consists of board minutes, executive files, newsletters, budget reports, staff notes, and curricula pertaining to the operation of the school. The collection also includes correspondence with other free schools and some countercultural ephemera. The collection is organized into four series: Board and Committee Minutes, Staff Notes and Yearbooks, Publications and Information, and Underground Radical Ephemera.

The Board and Committee Minutes series (1969-1979) documents the school's curriculum and budget.  This includes correspondence from both students and parents concerning the maintenance, faculty, and personnel in the institution. It includes an incomplete series of EFS newsletters, ranging from volume one to five, and a file titled "one of a kind archive materials," which provides a detailed description of school curriculum and the Summer Awareness Program. The majority of material ranges from the mid to late 1970's. It is arranged alphabetically.

The Staff Notes and Yearbooks series (1973-1983) includes handwritten notes by faculty and EFS yearbooks from the late 70's to early 80's. This series includes information about term planning, class schedules, strength and weakness reports, and budgetary reports. The yearbooks contain student photos and a statement of purpose from the school administrators. Highlights of the series show creative student work, poems, cartoons, and political commentary. Also included are fliers providing insight into the political implications of EFS. This series is arranged chronologically.

The majority of the Publications and Information series (1970-1974) includes newsletters and articles from other alternative schools. Most of these publications provide information about the current condition of the public school system, and alternative approaches to education. Highlights include articles about developing an alternative curriculum, correspondence from the Free University Movement, and alternative education ephemera.

The fourth and final series, Underground and Radical Ephemera (1974-1977), includes publications with similar ideologies to those of EFS. This includes publications form San Diego State University, The San Francisco Express, and socialist, communist, and antiwar organizations. Noteworthy documents include socialist fliers and literature, newsletters providing EFS's position on the Vietnam War, implications about ending the war, and environmentalist literature.

Biographical Note

Founded by parents dissatisfied with the public school system, the Exploring Family School (EFS) was San Diego's first institution for alternative education. EFS ran from 1969-1983 and provided a K-12 education. The school was founded under the assumption that structure is detrimental to the learning experience. Students were not graded, and were not exposed to competition within the classroom. Instead, teachers developed a more interactive approach with both parents and students, flexible enough to foster the child's emotional, academic and social needs.

Courses were structured around each student's individual interests, ranging from creative writing, biology, statistics, poetry, painting, politics, architectural design, music, photography, and Chicano studies. The diverse ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds of the students allowed for a flexible curriculum centered around personal experience. 

Upon Exploring Family School's founding, there were thirty students ranging from age five to sixteen. The faculty consisted of three teachers, an administrative coordinator, a curriculum coordinator, and regular educational volunteers. As the staff grew, EFS adopted a full time coordinator, basic skills teacher, and program advisor. The school was financially supported by tuition ($65/month), donations, and scholarship assistance. Students were not turned away if they were unable to pay the tuition. Instead, they would develop a payment plan that would fit his or her family's financial situation.

While EFC was considered to be a "free" school, there was a great amount of careful consideration about the student population. The school wanted a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic population; one third of the students were the children of professors and lawyers, one third were children of people on welfare, and one third were the children of blue collar workers.

Exploring Family School ceased operation in 1983.

Subject/Index Terms

Exploring Family School (San Diego, Calif.)--Archives
Exploring Family School (San Diego, Calif.)--History--Sources
Free schools--California--San Diego--History--20th century--Sources
San Diego (Calif.)--Intellectual life--Sources
San Diego (Calif.)--Social life and customs--Sources

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & University Archives

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in some of these materials have been transferred to or belong to San Diego State University. The nature of historical archival and manuscript collections means that copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. Copyright resides with the creators of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. Requests for permission to publish must be submitted to the Head of Special Collections, San Diego State University, Library and Information Access. When granted, permission is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder(s), which must also be obtained in order to publish.  Materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials.

Acquisition Source: Exploring Family School

Related Materials: Campus Lab School Records

Preferred Citation: Identification of item, folder title, box number, Exploring Family School Records, Special Collections and University Archives, Library and Information Access, San Diego State University.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Board and Committee Minutes],
[Series 2: Staff Notes and Yearbooks],
[Series 3: Publications and Information],
[Series 4: Underground and Radical Ephemera],

Series 1: Board and Committee MinutesAdd to your cart.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Board minutes, November 30, 1970Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Board minutes, June 1972 - July 1973Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Board minutes, August 1973 - November 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Board minutes, January 1975 - January 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Board minutes, February 1976 - July 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Board minutes, August 1976 - December 1976Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Board minutes, January 1977 - December 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Board minutes, January 1978 - April 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Board minutes, May 1978 - February 1979Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Executive Committee Meetings, 1976, 1977, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 11: Maintenance, Personnel, Finance, Fundraiser, Admissions Committee minutes, 1976, 1977, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Curriculum Committee minutes, 1976, 1977, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Board, Personnel, Finance, Executive Committee minutes, 1978Add to your cart.
Folder 14: General Information Bylaws, curriculum, student/teacher contracts, Alternative education bibliography, evaluation forms, 1974Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Miscellaneous, including volunteer program, graduation policyAdd to your cart.
Folder 16: Operating/California Department of Education, Textbook distributionAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: Private school affidavits/ Operation documents state department fo education, 1973 - 79Add to your cart.
Folder 18: Finances/ school risk accident policyAdd to your cart.
Folder 19: Agreement of use-Unitarian Church, September 15, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Communications from parents, 1975, 1976, 1977Add to your cart.
Folder 21: Miscellaneous correspondence, including letters of resignationAdd to your cart.
Folder 22: Letters from Valerie Marino Re: Open Roads New Jobs programAdd to your cart.
Folder 23: "Communications with Dawn" Including criticism, 1975 - 76Add to your cart.
Folder 24: "Communications with students" Including criticismAdd to your cart.
Folder 25: Newsletter Volume 1, Issues 1 - Volume 5, Issue 4 (incomplete)Add to your cart.
Folder 26: File labeled "Misc."Add to your cart.
Includes curriculum handbook 1973, articles on Alternative education, Alternative Education Bibliography, Budget documents, description of school, history of school, student contract evaluations.
Folder 27: Documents filed as "Misc."Add to your cart.
Includes brochures, miscellaneous newsletters, poetry publication.
Folder 28: Documents field as "one of a kind archive materials"Add to your cart.
Includes 1980 - 81 fund raising handbook, various Exploring Family School publications, early reference to the free school.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Board and Committee Minutes],
[Series 2: Staff Notes and Yearbooks],
[Series 3: Publications and Information],
[Series 4: Underground and Radical Ephemera],

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