Founded in 1969, The Free School in Albany, New York is the longest running inner-city independent alternative school in the United States.  We provide a unique alternative to traditional models of education by offering children a self-directed approach to their learning. Students at our school, many whom have slipped through the cracks of today’s regimented test-driven school system, flourish in a nurturing environment that allows them the freedom to chart their own course of learning while fostering emotional growth and inter-personal skills.

At The Free School, students not only learn the traditional academic subjects, but also valuable lessons about responsibility, problem solving, social justice and most importantly, how to relate to each other.  We have always placed great emphasis on student’s emotional well being, fostering loving, caring relationships and developing a community of engaged learners.   It is our focus on community building that encourages students to follow their dreams, contribute positively to society, and become voices for change. 


  • There’s space and time for emotions.

  • Love, empathy, and a passion for life are the foundation for education.

  • Each learner is treated uniquely, with individual learning preferences and styles respected.

  • Teachers aid learning by supporting inquiry, critical thinking and creativity.

  • Play fosters belonging, encourages cooperation and makes kids happy.

  • The world around us is the greatest teacher of all.

  • Learning happens in a stimulating, inviting, and nurturing environment.

  • Students feel “I can make a difference in my community.”

  • Where smaller class sizes mean better interpersonal relationships.

  • Students and teachers break bread together.

The Free School is a unique and important model of true community based education.

We are a school that believes that kids should be kids.  We do not give standardized tests and homework.  At The Free School kids to learn through play, exploration and our approach fosters creative-minded thinkers

An incubator for innovative schools and child-centered educational practices.  Over the past decade The Free School has directly inspired and helped to start more than a dozen schools and alternative learning spaces across the country and around the world.

The Free School is a progressive model of education that is responsive to a world that is full of learning experiences and styles.

We are part of a long tradition of freedom schools, democratic free schools and anarchist modern schools that aim to put control of education back in the hands of communities instead of the state. There are many school like ours across the country and around the world: Brooklyn Free School, Espacio A, Chicago Free School, Three Rivers Free School, Shikshantar, Village Free School, Patchwork School, Agile Learning Center and many others!

Learn more about democratic free schools and other schools like ours by visiting: