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June 16, 2004

Private Companies Providing Alternatives

The story, "Multimillionaire Buys Major Charter School Manager" tells how a wealthy couple created a new company, Imagine Schools, Inc. and purchased a chain of existing charter schools to become the second largest for-profit manager of schools involving more than 70 schools and 20,000 students. Their principles mention that schools should be places of integrity, justice and fun. Dennis and Eileen Bakke plan to invest an additional $140 million in their schools.

Edison Schools, the largest for-profit firm, manages schools serving some 132,000 public-school students in 40 states. A good source information on the fast-growing educational entrepreneurship sector is the Education Industry Association.


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 04:25 PM

Alternatives for At-Risk Students

Many existing alternative schools serve at-risk students. IALA believes in alternatives for all students and that there should be many types of alternatives and choices for all students. Still, the perception remains for many educators that alternatives are for unsuccessful students. That view is thoughtfully explored in a paper, "Alternative Learning Environments" by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. For example, the issue is raised of how well secondary schools serve all students and whether establishing programs for at-risk students lets traditional schools off the hook of improving their programs for all. The paper is well done and recommended.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:55 PM

June 11, 2004

Homeschooling as a Learning Alternative

Home schooling, as a learning alternative, has grown rapidly over the past two decades. The US Department of Education estimates approximately one million students being homeschooled-- about 2% of the public education base. Homeschooling is usually divided into two broad categories: religious-values based and progressive education. These differ considerably with the religious based emphasizing more traditional school content and methods. The progressive group is more child-centered and student-directed, sometimes bordering on unschooling. For an example of the second group, the Minnesota Homeschooling Alliance's web site contains a vast array of information. For an example of the more traditional see the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators.

Homeschooling took off in the U.S. when Life magazine published a story of an entirely homeschooled student accepted at Harvard, as were his two brothers. This story is captured splendidly in the parent authored book, Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax.


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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:06 AM

June 01, 2004

Florida Virtual School Enrolls 14,000 Students

One of many virtual or online high schools, Florida Virtual High enrolls over 14,000 students annually across the U.S. and in other countries since its founding in 1997. Their motto is "Any time, Any place, Any path, Any pace." This state funded school claims a 90% course completion rate and offer "franchises" to others wishing to establish their program.

Another school, Hudson High School offers 150 courses worldwide to its 5,000 students.

Virtual schools represent the fastest growing alternatives and serve students across the entire grade range K-16 plus graduate courses. The article, "Forum addresses virtual schooling myths" based on a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Education answers many questions on this hot topic.

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Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:21 PM