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November 28, 2003

Schools within Schools

A long standing practice to provide choices is the practice of creating schools within an existing school. For example, a large high school might have several subunits that serve as alternatives for students and staff. The Gates Foundation funds a large number of projects to carve large schools into smaller units, for example $55 million for Texas schools. A recent study by the Consortium for Policy Research in Education examines this movement in Cincinnati and Philadelphia for its effect on school culture, instruction and student performance.

For the most authoritative coverage of schools within schools, see Educational Alternatives for Everyone by Don Glines, specifically chapter 18. Don has been the voice for how schools can change for 40 years. Check him out!


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:41 AM

Cyber Schools

Another form of learning alternative is cyber schools, sometimes referred to as online schools or distant learning schools. They enroll and teach students over the Internet at both elementary and secondary levels, not to mention the explosive growth at higher education levels. The State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania dismissed a challenge by the School Boards Association to cyber schools in that state. Cyber school details are being fought out in a number of state and are being watched closely by interested parties: teachers, unions, state departments of education, private companies, and policy wonks. Stay tuned.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:22 AM

November 23, 2003

Study: Alternative School Principals

A study of Indiana principals, Knowledge, Dispositions, and Career Orientations of Alternative School Principals showed a doubling of the numbers of principals in 2 years for alternative schools. This study examined the extent to which alternative school principals in knew and supported research-based tenets of effective alternative schools. Principals who intended to remain in their current positions had slightly higher knowledge of effective practices than principals who intended to return to traditional schools.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:11 PM

New Study on Choices

The National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education released its report, School Choice: Doing it the Right Way Makes a Difference after two years of study. The commission, chaired by Paul Hill and made up of both choice proponents and skeptics, found that there is "no free lunch" in education and that school choice schemes must be carefully designed. The study makes clear that choice is here to stay.


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:48 PM

Home Schooling Doubles in a Decade

Another form of learning alternative is home schooling which has taken off rapidly in the U.S. during the past decade. The U.S. Department of Education study estimates some 850,000 students are home schooled up from 360,000 a decade ago. A story from the New York Times describes one family's reaction and provides other useful information.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:32 PM

Charter Schools Online Database

One form of alternatives is the charter school movement in the U.S. About 3,000 charter schools are operating during the 2003-2004 school year. The Education Commission of the States has assembled a valuable database from which reports can be generated across the states about charter school profiles, laws, enrollments, size, policies, funding, facilities, etc.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:12 PM

National Study of Alternatives

Dr. Cammy Lehr at the University of Minnesota is conducting studies of alternative programs in all 50 states. The first report, now out, found that 48 states has some form of legislation about alternative schools. A particular interest of the studies is to determine how students with disabilities are served by alternative programs. The study reports on definitions of alternative programs, funding sources, curriculum, staffing and enrollment criteria.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:58 PM

November 02, 2003

School Choice Can Reform Education

A recent study, School Choice as Education Reform: What Do We Know? suggests that offering choices of schools may improve learning. "There are two arguments about why greater school choice would result in better educational outcomes: (1) It could allow schools to better tailor their programs to attract students with particular interests or learning styles, thus providing a better match for students' unique educational needs; and (2) it would break the public school educational monopoly and force schools to compete for students in an educational marketplace in which "good" schools would prosper and "bad" schools would improve or be forced to shut down."


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:11 PM

November 01, 2003

Choices for Non-Public School Parents

David Kirkpatrick at the US Freedom Foundation wants a level of choices that makes conventional public schools simply a choice among many possibilities with funding available for all choices, including home schooling. He points out that to some extent, that is true today where states have reimbursed parents or allowed tax credits for expenses at non-public schools. The US Freedom Foundation takes a libertarian view on education that parents should totally control their child's learning with the state paying an unconditional annual rebate equal to the state's education system costs.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:14 PM

Choice: 2 Schools Under 1 Roof

In Stapleton, Colo., traditional public school Westerly Creek Elementary is collocated with Odyssey Charter School in a single 80,000 square-foot-building. The two schools, which have separate entrances and parking lots, share a cafeteria, gym and library in the middle of the building.

One school relies on a classical, books-oriented curriculum. The other uses outdoors adventures to instruct.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:20 PM