January 03, 2006

Great Resource

ECS.jpgThe Education Commission of the States is a great resource of reliable information and research and now provides a database of current information on a variety of subjects relevant to this website: alternative education, choices, charter schools, vouchers and 50 some other topics. These take the form of policy briefs, summaries of each state’s programs, research reports and legislative initiatives by topic. Anyone looking for reliable background information will find their database a priceless resource.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2005

Magnet Schools

Magnet schools of Amer.jpg Magnet Schools of America provide a wealth of background, history, examples, research and rationale for thematic or magnet schools. For instance, there are 14 elementary and secondary schools under the International Studies group and 79 magnet schools under Fine and Performing Arts. Each of these have links for further info.

They list as rationale for magnet schools:
-that all students do not learn in the same ways;
-that if we take advantage of a student’s interest and aptitude, that student will do better in subjects unrelated to his/her reasons for choosing the school;
-that choice itself will result in improved satisfaction that translates into better achievement;
-that every child can learn and it is our job to offer enough options so that parents of all children (or students themselves) will have the opportunity to choose the programs best suited to them.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:31 PM | Comments (0)

State Alternative Conferences

Here are known dates and links for state alternative education conferences:
-California Continuation Ed. Assoc. April 28-30, 2006, Los Angeles Conferences.jpg
-Connecticut State Alt. Ed. March 22, 2006
-Iowa Assoc. of Alt. Ed. March 31-April 4, 2006, Des Moines
-Michigan Alt. Ed. Organization April 27-29, 2006, Bay City
-Minn. Assoc. for Alt. Programs, Feb. 22-24, 2006, Duluth
-Missouri Assoc. for Alt. Ed. TBA
-New York State Alt. Ed. Assoc. TBA
-Pennsylvania Assoc. for Learning Alternatives, March 29-31, 2006, Lancaster
-Texas Assoc. for Alt. Ed., Feb. 2-4, 2006 San Antonio
-Virginia Alt. Educators Assoc. March 27-28, 2006, Roanoke
-Wash. Assoc. for Learning Alt. March 9-11, 2006, Ocean Shores

Note: several other states held fall conferences.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:33 PM | Comments (0)

December 06, 2005

IALA 2006 Annual Conference

The International Association for Learning Alternatives will hold its annual conference at Ocean Shores, Shilo Inn.jpg Washington June 29, July 1, 2006. The conference host is the Washington Association for Learning Alternatives with the theme, Education for Everyone, emphasizes many types of alternatives to meet different learning needs and differing philosophies of education: magnet school, charter schools, homeschooling, democratic schools, virtual schools, Montessori, and more. You might want to make this a summer vacation trip with your family.

Conferees will enjoy the Shilo Inn conference site on the Pacific Ocean with a variety of family activities. Ocean Shores is a 6,000 acre peninsula at the mouth of Grays Harbor, the only deep water port on the Pacific coast north of San Francisco. Ocean Shores was originally developed in 1960, and is one of Washington’s most popular resort destinations. In Ocean Shores, you’ll find 6 miles of sandy beaches which extend north of town 15 miles to Moclips. The city also features 23 miles of interconnecting lakes and canals, and 12 miles of scenic bayside. Ocean Shores is about a two hour drive from Seattle.

Consider doing a session at the conference by completing the Call for Presenters form. Additional conference information and registration information will be posted soon on the IALA website.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:01 AM | Comments (0)

December 05, 2005

The Education Innovator

USDE enlarged logo.jpgThe Education Innovator, a publication of the U.S. Office of Education, presents news of educational reform, change, and department activities. Almost every issue features a tradition-breaking school in some detail. Policy, arts education, technology, private schools, charter schools, innovative programs, funding opportunities and the like arrive in an attractive weekly email. This useful source with access to much other information can be subscribed to at no cost.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

Small District with 13 School Choices

The Appleton, WI school district sponsors 13 charter schools (9 operating and 4 in planning) so that students have choices to meet their diverse interests and learning needs. The charter schools remain part of the district under Wisconsin law but it is unusual for a district to willingly offer so many choices that compete for students with its 25 traditional schools. The charter schools range from highly structured approaches to progressive practices and thematic programs. Appleton Schs.gif

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:16 PM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2005

Experiential Learning

Experiential learning (also called hands on learning, learning by doing) is found in all levels of schooling seeking better ways of engaging students. Many alternative programs use the philosophy of experiential learning as a foundation. A considerable body of research supports experiential approaches for achieving the broad aims of education as well as basic skill acquisition.

Several sources of information provide definitions, research, practices, examples and other useful data. The Association for Experiential Education and the National Society for Experiential Education are fine sites for further information.
Experiential cartoon.jpg

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:45 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2005

Radical Changes Proposed

The Education Forum, a publication from New Zealand, frequently covers changes in Great Britian, Australia and other Commonwealth nations. The most recent issue Hot topics.gif reviewed "radical reforms" promoted by the British Government that would reverse central control for local autonomy of curriculum and policies. Parents would be given choices and other organizations (such as colleges and businesses) could operate elementary and secondary schools.

Another article, "Reform Ideal for All Classes" cites the slow pace of change and lack of educational choices in Australia. It calls for the government to note options given parents in other nations and the good results of providing choices.

The Education Forum can be subscribed to (free) for news on educational change issues.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:34 AM | Comments (0)

November 07, 2005

Black Alliance for Educational Options

The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) strives to ensure that quality educational alternatives are available to Black families. Their web site contains definitions and other information on the many types of parental choices now present in schools including the following:

-Charter Schools
-Home Schooling
-Innovations in Traditional Public Schools
-Privately Financed Scholarships
-Public School Contracts with Private Organizations
-Supplementary Education Programs
-Tax-Supported Scholarships (Vouchers)
-Tuition Tax Credits and Deductions
-School Choice Glossary

BAEO leads the fight to empower parents, particularly low income parents, to choose educational programs that help their children succeed.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 04, 2005

Diversity of Charter Schools

What does the phrase “charter school” convey? Besides some basic information about structure, governance, and Playing to Type.jpg
accountability, what does the charter heading tell us about the curriculum, pedagogy, and theory of learning of the roughly 3,500 schools that fall under it? To fill the void of information, the Fordham Institute has fashioned a typology of charter schools—one that distinguishes between one, a giant lump of “charters” and 3,500 completely unique institutions. The 24 page 2005 publication Playing to Type maps the charter school landscape into:

-Traditional: teacher centered, back to basics, etc. 23%
-Progressive: student centered, hands on, etc. 29%
-Vocational: career, internships, etc. 12%
-General: conversions, district operated, etc. 30%
-Alternative delivery: online, home based, etc. 6%

Charts show examples of each of these types. The average age of charter schools is 3 years, still a very young movement. For each of the types, percent of free and reduced lunch and minority enrollments are shown. A very useful and important student that sheds light on the diversity of schools under the charter banner.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

October 23, 2005

Earn College Credit while in High School

Pathways to Success.jpg
A new report by the Community College Research Center, Pathways to College Access and Success describes several programs that help students earn college credits while still in high school. The programs range from the well know International Baccalaureate to dual enrollment, tech prep, middle college high schools and post secondary enrollment options. Some of the programs offer considerable advantages to low income students. Amazingly, some students graduate from high school on schedule but have simultaneously completed as much as two years of college at no personal financial expense, a fairly well-kept secret.

The report is part of a longer study, Accelerating Student Success Through Credit-Based Transition Programs funded by the U.S. Department of Education.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

October 04, 2005

Conference on At-Risk Students

The National Alternative Education Association will co-sponsor the Alternatives to Expulsion, Suspension and NAEA.jpg Dropping Out of School conference at Orlando, FL February 16-18-2006. This is the 12th annual conference. Registration form and other information is available. Also available are some 19 handouts from the 2005 conference.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

October 03, 2005

Korean Educational Alternatives Growing

Korean Children.jpg
Dissatisfaction with conventional education has led to the creation of over 100 alternative schools in Korea. Even a Supreme Court justice and university professors are sending their children to alternative education sites. The Seoul Alternative Learning Community Network serves as a clearinghouse of information. The growth of alternatives appears tied to a backlash against the rigidity of the traditional system and the desire for an emphasis on creativity.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

October 01, 2005

International Alternative Education Symposium

Turkish alt ed.jpgPeople in Turkey are organizing the First International Alternative Education Symposium on November 26-27 in Istanbul. They don't have educational options and have become interested in seeing educational alternatives in Turkey having read translated works from Holt, Freire, Steiner and others. They wish to explore the thinking behind open schools, free schools, Montessori education, home schooling and others. You can explore participating for a nominal fee. Sessions will be conducted in both English and Turkish. Details for submitting papers and registration are online at the website in English.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 23, 2005

High School Redesign

High school reform focuses on new designs, funding by foundations,High Schools graphic.jpg new schools (in contrast to changing existing schools) and the voice of students (gasp) about their schools. The Annenberg Institute for School Reform gives this topic attention in the latest issue of Voices in Urban Education (VUE) with such articles as:

*Redesigning High School: Whole Systems That Work for All Students

*Portfolios of Schools: An Idea Whose Time Has Come

*Students as Co-constructors of the Learning Experience and Environment: Youth Engagement and High School Reform

*Reinventing High School Accountability: Authenticity, Pressure, and Support

The Annenberg Institute also has a great resource in Tools for School Improvement Planning.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:57 PM | Comments (0)

September 10, 2005

A New Type of High School

Recommendations for middle colleges or the more recent term, early college high schools, appear with regularity nowadays. Such programs combine high school with college so that a student earns a two year degree Laboratory.jpg simultaneously with a high school diploma. An excellent 2005 report, "Early College High School: Integrating Grades 9 through 15" by Jobs for the Future describes an initiative sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. With $50 million, these organizations are funding the establishment of 100 such new schools. For example, Stark Community College is preparing to establish the program in partnership with local schools. Jobs for the Future provides numerous references to the topic. Often, the programs are directed at high need students. Bard High School Early College in a New York City serves 9th and 10th graders who then take college classes at the high school and earn an associate degree rather than high school graduation--a form of an institutional bypass! Education Week has an excellent article, "College-Based High Schools Fill a Growing Need."

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)

September 07, 2005

Eco Schools

InterestWind power.jpg in "green" ecology has struck charter schools. Senn Brown of the Wisconsin Charter Schools Association assembled a list of 30 some charter schools thematically dedicated to saving the environment.

The schools, though principally in the midwest, are probably but a fraction of the true number in the U.S. Already, the schools have held a conference and involved higher education and other organizations to share ideas and practices. For further information, email your name and contact info to sennb@charter.net or call 608-238-7491.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

Public School Choice

Enormous growth is being registered in the choices available to Minnesota families, an early adopter of providing educational options. As an example of the growing desirability of choices, here are the data and types of choices for Minnesota between the years 1996-97 and 2004-05 (Source: Minnesota Department of Education): See newspaper story by reporter, James Walsh in the Star Tribune on this topic.
Minnesota Choices.gif

Postsecondary enrollment options: This program permits high school juniors and seniors to attend college and other post secondary programs with 90% of the revenue following the student to pay tuition which the post secondary insitituion must accept as full payment if they chose to participate. Growth 18%.

Open enrollment: Permits students to attend another school district. 64%

Alternative programs for at-risk students: 156%

Homeschooling: 41%

Charter schools: 736%

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2005

Online Learning

The North American Council for Online Learning has as its mission: "to increase educational opportunities and enhance learning by providing collegial expertise and leadership in K-12 online teaching and learning." Online learning, sometimes referred to as "virtual schools" or "distance learning" is the fastest-growing alternative. For example, Florida Virtual School serves 33,000 students in several states.

Such schools typically serve students in their homes via the Internet, sometimes providing the computer, but always providing licensed teachers who assign and check lessons.

Online schools are operated by school districts, state agencies, universities and charter schools. Most states have worked out funding mechanisms, not based on "seat time" which was an initial stumbling block and still is in some localesNACOL.jpg

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2005

National Directory of Alternative Schools

The National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS) has published a directory of alternatives: NCACS.jpg

-alternative schools by state (principally democratic-type schools)
-homeschooling programs by state
-alternative colleges and universities by state
-schools and colleges in other countries by country
-alternative education resources by state and country
-alternative education publishers by state and country

All of the above are also indexed alphabetically. This useful directory has hundreds of listings but does not purport to be all-inclusive. The cost is $27.50 or $21.50 if a member.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:57 PM | Comments (0)

More Choices Promoted by Governors

The National Governors Association released a new report, Providing Quality Choice Options in Education to promote giving families and students more educational alternatives. The report says that improving traditional schools is not enough. There must be educational options for families. Recommendations include:

-strengthening and broadening charter laws; NGA.gif
-supporting transportation costs for low-income students;
-expanding eligibility for students to take college courses in high
-increasing the availability of virtual course offerings;
-providing equitable funding for all education providers;
-adopting school-based funding mechanisms; and
-offering tuition assistance for students to attend non-public K-12

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:37 AM | Comments (0)

August 14, 2005

International Democratic Education Conference 2005

The 13th International Democratic Education Conference was held July 30-August 7 in Berlin, Germany. Over 200 people, ages 15 to 80, from 28 different countries attended.

The theme of the week-long event was “Curiosity or Curriculum” emphasizing the power of individual curiosity over a common and mandated state curriculum. Coordinated by the Berlin Children Rights Group KRATZA (www.kraetzae.de) the conference spent many hours discussing human rights and democracy as they applied to children and thus the extent to which parents, teachers and/or the state should have control over the lives and school/learning decisions of children and youth. See more at www.idec2005.org.

The participants agreed upon the following statement: "We believe that, in any educational setting, young people have the right to decide individually how, when, what, where and with whom they learn, and to have an equal share in the decision-making as to how their organizations—in particular their schools—are run, and which rules and sanctions, if any, are necessary."

The 2006 conference will be held in Sydney, Australia, July 10-16, 2006.
Report by Johh Loflin

More info:

From July 30 through August 7th we held the first International Democratic Education Conference In Germany, and the first IDEC in Europe since 1999. This IDEC was organized by a group called Kratza, a children’s rights group. They are also connected to a group which is organizing a new democratic school in Berlin. They are agitating for an approach to education which is based on curiosity, more learner-centered, rather that totally curriculum-driven. They hoped that by hosting the IDEC in Germany they would help this cause.

There are some alternative schools in Germany, and some of these are actually partially funded by the government. On the other hand, home education is illegal, and parents are fined or even jailed if they home educate or don’t send their children to school. And some new democratic schools are not legally accepted and parents sending their children to these schools are fined as home educators or those who do not send their children to school.

There were nine people on the IDEC 2005 steering Committee, Mike Weiman, Sabine Steldinger, Paula Sell, Anja Kasper, Lou Frizzi Schulte-Berger, Daniel Schmidt, Christophe Klein, Lorenz Terpe, Stefan Karl and Stefan Schramm.

Most of the IDEC was centered in a huge building called the Fez. It is part of a former “Children’s Palace” in East Germany, and currently is a recreational and educational center set on a large piece of land in the woods on the outskirts of Berlin. Most of the participants stayed in large communal tents and mostly vegetarian food was catered at a nearby outdoor eating area.

The organizers arranged nearly $100,000 in grants and services to reduce the cost of the IDEC and to provide some funding for participants from Third World countries.

Over 240 attended the whole conference and there were many additional attendees for the special two day conference held at Humboldt University. They came from at least 28 countries.

The first IDEC was organized by Yacov Hecht in Israel in 1993. He had to cancel his attendance and presentation at this IDEC at the last minute because of a severe back problem. In addition to many presenters well known in Germany, presenters included David Gribble from England and Jerry Mintz, from the United States, two of the original founders of IDEC. Also presenting were Maira Landulpho Alves Lopes from Lumiar School in Brazil, Mikel Matisoo from Sudbury Valley School in the USA, Yoad Eliaz from Israel, Niels Lawaetz from Denmark, Zoe Readhjead from Summerhill School in England, Nirupama Raghavan from India, Derry Hannam from England, Anjo Snijders from Netherland, Tim Perkins from Auistralia, Pat Montgomery from Clonlara Schoolo in the USA Jakub Mozejko from Poland, Juli Gassner from New Zealand, Meghan Carrico from Windsor House School in Canada, and Ben Sheppard from Booroobin Education Center in Australia.

This was a nine day conference with a massive amount of information flow, so a detailed report is not possible. The conference was named IDEC and made into such a long conference by the two girls who organized the IDEC at Sands School in 1997. They wanted it long enough for the group to become a real community. They also pioneered the Open Space Technology which left most of the programming available for spontaneous workshops throughout the conference. This was done at this IDEC except for the two days at Humboldt University.

Here are a few of the highlights which came out at this conference:

* In the last two years 20 new democratic schools have been created or are in process in the Netherlands. Furthermore, there is now a new university accredited training program for teachers who want to teach in democratic schools.

*There are several new democratic schools that have started or are starting in Spain, centered in Barcelona.

*A new democratic school has started in Norway.

*An Italian school superintendent who attended, is trying to democratize schools in his district.

*The head of a large system of private schools in India attended and will bring IDEC people to India to help him democratize those schools.

*A group from Nepal attended who have democratized their ashram orphanage in Katmandu.

*The principal of a large, democratic, public, inner city school in Russia, Alexander Tubelski, attended with four of his students. He also heads a network of about 50 schools which are trying to go in a democratic direction.

*AERO staff member Aleksandra Kobiljski came from Serbia and created a special room which presented IDEC history year by year, with photographs. Several workshops were also held in this room, and books, videos and other materials were available.

*AERO showed the DVD they made in December of the Butterflies Program for homeless working and street children in Delhi, India.

*Several groups were not able to attend because of financial and visa problems, such as the Stork Family School in Ukraine which was ready to send a group of 11 by bus, but were not given visas by the German embassy in Ukraine.

*The director of Naama Scaale, a Montessori School in India attended. Jerry Mintz had done a workshop on democratic process at the IDEC in India with 11 of their students. They then completely democratized their school and even taught two other schools how to do it.

*Several German groups who are creating democratic schools got together to explore the creation of a German association of democratic schools.

*Windsor House School in Vancouver, Canada, after a very successful 35 years as one of thye most important democratic schools in Canada is now under attack by the local education authority for not following their curriculum.

*Booroobin Sudbury Education Centre (it can no longer call itself a school) in Australia continues to be attacked by the Queensland education authority and continues to fight in court.

*After the last Humboldt workshop, a group of adults and students marched to a nearby square in Berlin with dozens of signs, with “curriculum pointing in one direction and “curiosity,” “creativity,” etc., in various languages pointing in the other direction. They handed out literature and a conference statement to interested bystanders.

In addition to workshops, I taught table tennis to about 15 participants. I also organized an auction which raised over $1500 toward the costs of this IDEC. People at the Humboldt presentation donated an additional $1000 to the cause.

At the final event at Humboldt there was a panel discussion which involved the Berlin superintendent of schools. Although some people were clearly angry at his policies and point of view it was pointed out that the students on the panel were particularly sensitive and sincere in their comments to him and we hope some communication took place. There was good press coverage of the Humboldt event.

At the end of the last day there was a long and wonderful talent show. The conference wound up with a surprise concert by a 15 person brass band which has been performing around the world for 30 years. The participants greeted them very enthusiastically and spontaneously danced around them. They said they hadn’t seen such a reaction in 30 years of performances. Perhaps the people were expressing their joy of being at the first IDEC in Germany.


Reading Jerry's report on the Berlin IDEC brought home to me the number of things that didn't appear either in his report or in the one I have send to the members of the IDEN.

One was the wonderful contribution of the Japanese. They showed films they had made, performed a play one of them had written, ran a workshop of Japanese culture, teaching origami, calligraphy and so on, and made some astonishing contributions to the talent show. The German organisers were also to be congratulated on finding Japanese/German translators, so Kageki did not have to work quite as hard as usual.

Another was the programme of events, such as the visits to various Berlin schools, the dance session with Royston Maldoom and the visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

And another was the socialising that went on late into the night, which I know about only from hearsay, as I like to go to bed early.

And as I re-read what I have written, I realise that I was actually too busy with other things to attend any of the events I have mentioned except the Japanese films and play. There were too many people to meet, too many interesting workshops, and there was too little time for it all.


We have received an overview DVD of the India IDEC from Amukta. Just reply to this e mail if you want us to let you know when we have made copies of it. We’ve watched it and it is very beautiful. JM

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:47 AM | Comments (0)

July 31, 2005

Examples of Educational Alternatives

Alternatives come in many types. Here are four alternatives--unusual and extraordinary public schools with links for more information:
Jennings Experiential High School takes its urban students on two 35 day overseas trips, this year to Costa Rica and Ghana, West Africa. There they perform community service and study many aspects of the environment. They prepare for the trips with five weeks of intensive study.
Village school.gif
Minnesota New Country School (7-12) and River Heights Charter School (9-12) contract for staffing and other services with a cooperative of teachers. Students study topics of personal interest using the project method for learning.
Village School of Northfield (K-12) gives staff and students a vote about all aspects of the school. They follow the Sudbury model of permitting students to follow their interests at their own pace.Studio 4.jpg
High School for Recording Arts (9-12)joins a school with a commercial recording arts business, Studio 4. Their high-need students enroll because of an interest in popular music, hence the nickname, Hip Hop High. Records have been distributed nationally.

These experiential learning examples show the diversity among educational alternatives that parents, students and staff can choose from. Extending school choices for learning is the mission of IALA. This website's purpose is to promote thoughtful examination of the one-size-fits-all philosophy so much the central tenet of traditional education. We wish to assist policy makers and others who recognize the benefits of providing an array of educational choices.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2005

Educational Choices in Other Countries

Carolyn Hoxby, Harvard economics professor, writes of her visit to What American Can Learn.jpg
New Zealand where she found a lively school choice program. She suggests a restaurant analogy where bad restaurants continue in business with a forced clientele vs. good restaurants that add tables or expand with new locations to serve a growing business or what she calls “supply flexibility.” Schools must have the autonomy to adjust their program, vary staff deployment and compensation and become available for parents to choose from.

New Zealand is but one country exploring school choice. A 2005 book, What America Can Learn from School Choice in Other Countries edited by David Salisbury and James Tooley describes programs in Sweden, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, New Zealand and other countries. Available from the Cato Institute.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:01 AM | Comments (0)

July 18, 2005

School Reform from England

Ed Heretics Press.jpg
Roland Meighan of Bramcote Hills, Nottingham, England and his group, Educational Heretics Press publish hard hitting commentary on conventional schooling. Their newsletter, The Journal of Personalized Education Now, describes the harsh reality of traditional practices on the human spirit and learning. You won't find more radical writing about education than with their publications including the extraordinarily thoughtful 2005 book, Comparing Learning Systems: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly and the Counter-Productive. They provide descriptions of new approaches to learning, vision statements, principles, alternatives to schools, critiques on testing, book reviews, upcoming conferences and more. They offer many books including several hard-to-find volumes.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

July 03, 2005

Montessori Conferences

Montessorit 2005 conf.jpg One of the options parents choose is Montessori education which generally are private schools but are now found increasingly as part of public education. We note two upcoming national conferences:

The ninth International Montessori Conference will be November 3-6, 2005 in Clearwater, Fl.

The second annual Tomorrow's Children/Tomorrow's Schools will be May 4-7, 2006 in Monterey, CA.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2005

New Schools to Bypass Traditional High Schools

Jobs for the Future will open schools that accelerate high school and college by compressing grades. Early College High Schools are small schools from which students leave with not only a high school diploma but also an Associate's degree or two years of college credit toward a Bachelor's degree. Several foundations will provide major funding for the creation or redesign of 70 Early College High Schools in the next five years for underserved and low-income young people.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:01 PM

World Directory of Democratic Schools

The Alternative Education Resource Center (AERO) has catalogued a huge list of democratic schools (mostly small learner-centered alternative schools) in 26 countries plus most of the states in the U.S. Use this link to look up a country or state to see these member schools. AERO provides a wide range of resources, links, conferences to promote democratic schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:56 PM

February 22, 2005

Youthbuild USA, An Exciting Alternative

Youthbuild USA works with low income youth in 200 communities. Young people growing up in poor neighborhoods desire skills to help them move forward in life. However, they are often discouraged by an education system that fails to recognize their intelligence, fails to help them overcome learning difficulties, and fails to make learning a meaningful and exciting part of their lives.

YouthBuild offers a dynamic educational alternative. Its personalized, self-paced educational program is a powerful blend of experiential and academic learning that frees students' innate intellectual and creative abilities. They soon see math and reading as practical skills needed to accomplish real tasks in their daily lives. Teachers work closely with each student to ensure that no one is overlooked. At the same time, YouthBuild's philosophy of peer-assisted learning builds trust and confidence among trainees. More on the program philosophy.

YouthBuild receives Congressional funding through several agencies and is partially self-supporting by its physical community building activities. This is a powerful and effective alternative!


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:32 PM

National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools

NCACS is a long-time "association of schools, groups and individuals committed to participant control, whereby students, parents and staff create and implement their own learning programs."

-Supports and strengthens alternative educational approaches.
-Facilitates communication and exchanges among members.
-Serves as an advocate for alternatives in education....

This is a grassroots organization dedicated to freedom and democracy in education and provides excellent resources on their website.
Their recent conference was held at The Farm, a school community in the hills of Tennessee. A listing of schools by state and nation gives those with websites and includes some very unusual schools in America and elsewhere.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 04:53 PM

February 16, 2005

Power Point on New Schools

Bryan Hassel's power point presentation at the U.S. Dept. of Education's conference series, Innovations in Education Exchange shows how fundamental changes in education is unlikely in conventional schools and will more likely result from new schools. Bryan of Public Impact is one of the most thoughtful and prolific commentators and researchers on today's scene, particularly with charter schools. He's also the author of the book, Picky Parent Guide.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:00 PM

January 16, 2005

Excellent book, Educational Alternatives for Everyone

Don Glines' excellent book, Educational Alternatives for Everyone: A Handbook for Educators, Families and Politicians is for sale at our online store. An unparalleled and extraordinary resource book on learning alternatives by the foremost advocate for alternatives. It presents the reasons why choices of a variety of learning environments are essential for the future of society, offers concrete descriptions of various practical programs, defines the potential outcomes and methods of assessment, provides an extensive bibliography and cites fifty relevant quotes by child-centered leaders. 410 pages, 2002. Price $35, Members $30.Buy it now to obtain the greatest resource on educational alternatives. It's many books of information in one volume.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:28 PM

December 19, 2004

Doing Choice Right

The Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington issued a report, School Choice: Doing it the Right Way Makes a Difference by the National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education in November, 2003. Now the Center's program, Doing Choice Right, plans to address the practical steps in establishing educational alternatives and informing parents of choices according to an article in Education Week. Paul T. Hill leads this initiative.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:14 PM

December 11, 2004

District Choices

More often these days, school districts offer a variety of choices. This might be to meet the growing competition for students from charter schools, nonpublic schools and homeschooling, all of which have eaten into district enrollments. Other reasons for offering choices include catering to student interests or ways of learning and to provide for a greater diversity of students. Choices include schools with special themes such as science, technology, health careers, arts, open education. Here are a few examples of how districts offer, in some cases, a blizzard of choices: Saint Paul Public Schools with 30 choices; Seattle Public Schools; some 27 Small Learning Communities in the Minneapolis Public Schools; Kansas City Public Schools (MO) with 30 magnet schools; About 30 choices in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:31 PM

November 02, 2004

High School: Crisis or Possibility

A new report, Crisis or Possibility Conversations about the American High School (downloadable) by James Harvey and Naomi Housman for the National High School Alliance began with the assumption that something needed to be done. Some 40 organizations participate in the Alliance for this important and well-funded study about the need to "reinvent the American high school." Read the executive summary for the key information. This is the latest item about the need for learning alternatives!


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:17 AM

October 11, 2004

Learning Alternatives: Waldorf and Montessori

Waldorf schools and Montessori schools are two long-standing well-regarded private school alternatives that increasingly are found in the public school sector at both elementary and secondary levels. An interesting article by a teacher who worked in both programs compares their practices. For more information, see the national Waldorf organization and the national Montessori organization. Great River School is an example of a Montessori high school. Watershed High School is an example of a Waldorf school.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:12 PM

October 10, 2004

Can competition really improve schools?

An article in the Christian Science Monitor, "Can competition really improve schools" reviews the concept of choice of schools ranging from open enrollment to vouchers. It points out that people of means have always had a choice of schools by where they choose t0 live or the ability to purchase a private school education. There's no definitive research on the question of what choices provide the best education. Still, people like choices and are using them to a greater extent. This creates competition among systems and thereby tensions and disagreements.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:03 AM

September 27, 2004

Advanced High School

The Providence, RI Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, or MET school for short, was created as a high school taking advantage of best practices in school reform and therefore departs significantly from the norm. A strong advisor program, small school size, and tremendous amount of community based learning are among its features. Dennis Litkey, one of the founders, writes of their hughly successful venture, one that has attracted considerable foundation support for replication. The parent organization, The Big Picture Company provides considerable detail about its programs. A new book, The Big Picture: Education is Everyone's Business provides further detail into the philosophy and operation of this advanced school.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:59 PM

Evidence for School Reform

Researchers have found an astounding 40 percent to 60 percent of all students — urban, suburban and rural — are "chronically disengaged" from school. And these numbers don't include kids who actually drop out of school. This is from a quote from a newspaper account of a national conference of experts who met at the Wingspread Conference Center and hammered out a position statement outlining what schools need to do about this problem. The statement includes several research papers. These findings are consistent with other reports particularly at the secondary level.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:31 PM

August 26, 2004

Contracted Alternative Programs

Another type of alternative school is those which contract with a school district to serve a particular population of students. For example, the Metropolitan Federation of Alternative Schools in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, consists of 22 schools run by community non-profits. Each contracts to serve particular populations of "at-risk" students. The students remain on the district rolls but by statute the district gives 95% of the state aid the student generates to the contracted program. Each of the schools controls its programs, staffing and budgets. It's a win-win. The programs obtain revenue from the district to provide programs that better meet the needs of elementary and secondary students. This arrangement has been in place for several decades although in the early years, the programs received much less revenues from districts. The schools have formed the Federation as a mutual benefit organization.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:47 PM

August 13, 2004

Creating Strong District Choice Programs

The U. S. Dept. of Education has published a booklet, Innovations in Education: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs to provide guidance to school districts in providing more learning alternatives. Public school choice—letting parents decide which public school is the best place for their child and allowing and enabling the transfer to that school—is a key strategy in current federal legislation aimed at improving educational outcomes. This handbook examines the choice options provided by some of the nation’s districts, including open enrollment, magnet schools, alternative schools, concurrent enrollment, and charter schools.

This public domain book can be downloaded or ordered by writing to: ED Pubs, Education Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398; or fax your request to: (301) 470-1244; or e-mail your request to: edpubs@inet.ed.gov; or call in your request toll-free: 1-877-433-7827 (1-877-4-ED-PUBS) or order online at: http://www.edpubs.org/.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:52 PM

August 02, 2004

Schools of the Future

Ian Jukes and Ted McCain describe their vision of tomorrow's schools in an article "New Schools for a New Age." They write of the speed of change impacting the world and that will hit education where we least expect it. They describe the difference in expectations of workers and citizens in the future world of high speed and advanced technology. A thougthful and provocative article. The InfoSavvy site contains a list of exciting articles and handouts used for presentations.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:24 AM

July 30, 2004

Free Books on School Change

The U.S. Dept. of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement is publishing 3 new booklets this fall:
"Successful Magnet Schools" (September 2004),
"Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification"(October 2004)
"Alternative Routes to School Leadership" (November 2004)
For free copies, call Cynthia Dorfman, 202-205-5560, or email: Cynthia.Dorfman@ed.gov. These public domain booklets can be freely used by anyone. They are part of a 6 booklet series: Innovations in Education.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:29 PM

July 11, 2004

100 New School Choices in Chicago

Mayor Daley, who has been in charge of the Chicago Public Schools since 1995, announced plans to create 100 new small, mostly secondary schools. 1/3 will be charter schools, 1/3 will be contract schools and 1/3 will be reorganized existing schools. This means 2/3 of the new schools will be outside district control. The district has raised 1/2 of the $100 million for start-up expenses. The effort aims at changing urban education on an unprecedented scale by bypassing the forces of status quo that typically impede change in school districts.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:02 PM

July 08, 2004

New Study on At-Risk Alternatives

The Urban Institute has published a comprehensive, thoughtful study, Educational Alternatives for Vulnerable Youth: Student Needs, Program Types, and Research Directions by Laudan Y. Aron, Janine M. Zweig. The study touches on general alternatives but the major focus is on programs for at-risk youth and the enormous expansion in recent years. This is a useful piece with much data for those wishing a landscape view of at-risk programs. Many additional research questions are listed.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:56 PM

June 16, 2004

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.


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.


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.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:21 PM

May 26, 2004

New Schools, The Only Route to Reform?

A new report by Curtis Johnson and Neal Peirce, System Change Goes to School:
New Opportunities for Civic Leadership to Transform K-12 Education in
American Cities
argues that in spite of major efforts and millions of dollars for reform, traditional schools are unchanged. This is because the system and the general public have built-in factors that successfully resist and probably will always prevent change in traditional schools. Instead, America needs an "open sector" in education where new schools are permitted and encouraged. Essentially, only they can create substantially different schools. This is a powerful and important report that deserves a careful reading.
Johnson and Peirce


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:09 PM

May 22, 2004

Alternative "free schools"

We're seeing an increase in schools that give enormous freedom to students and staff. Well-known in this category is the Sudbury Valley School in Sudbury, Massachusetts. Serving K-12 students, the school is now in the its 36th year and has at least 31 replications. One of those schools, Fairhaven, received considerable publicity in an Education Week lengthy and sympathetic article which began with this paragraph: "Imagine a school with no classrooms or desks. No textbooks or required reading. No tests. No academic standards. No benchmarks. No principal." It was also recently written up in the Christian Science Monitor.

Most of these schools are private but some are public schools and raise important questions about their effectiveness. Interestingly, that question has been answered in a number of studies showing that graduates of "free" or democratic schools (as this group is sometimes labeled) are successful in numerous professional and other fields and express happiness with their lives.

These schools and other signs of an educational revolt against rigid standards and academic testing may be the early indication of a sea change in educational philosophy similar to that of the 1960s when the modern era of educational alternatives began. A. S. Neill's book, Summerhill and a flood of books and articles from such authors as: John Holt, Herb Kohl, Jonathan Kozol, George Dennison, Paul Goodman and others became the rage among thoughtful citizens and educators. For an excellent account of that movement see Ron Miller's Free Schools, Free People: Education and Democracy After the 1960s. Stay tuned.
Picture below: Sudbury Valley School


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:23 AM

May 10, 2004

Create New Schools

Community Based Organizations (CBOs)have entered the education scene by sponsoring new charter schools. The YMCA of America, YouthBuild and the National Council of LaRaza are examples. YouthBuild received a $5.4 million Gates Foundation grant to establish 10 new schools to add to the network of 23 Youthbuild schools. How National Organizations and Their Affiliates Can Support the New Schools Strategy describes the backgound of this movement and provides details.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:07 PM

April 27, 2004

Tools for Creating Alternatives

The Annenberg Institute has referenced an amazing variety of tools such as observation protocols, focus group samples and questions, surveys, questionnaires, and other techniques for use in improving schools. These same tools can be very useful for creating new schools or tuning up alternatives. It's a splendid assortment of devices for leadership, planning, staff development, community connections, student involvement, school climate and school organization.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:20 PM

April 14, 2004

Japan Interest in Alternative Schools

Over the past 8-10 years, several people have commented on the numbers of Japanese educators and others visiting alternative schools and charter schools in the U.S. The reason given for this interest is that increasing numbers of Japanese are unhappy with the rigidity and structure of the present federal system of education. They state that students do not learn creativity, spontaneity, and positive teamwork skills in the current highly academic, competitive system. One article describes their interest in charter schools and the attempt to obtain supportive legislation.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:32 PM

April 07, 2004

Powerful Videotape

Don Glines and Minnesota State University have released a remarkable videotape about the Wilson Campus School which operated between 1968 and 1977 in Mankato, Minnesota until the Legislature closed all campus schools. The 60 minute tape includes original black-and-white footage with modern commentary by Dr. Glines and others. Wilson Campus School was described as the most innovative school in America, an accurate description that holds to the present day. Watching the tape has a stunning effect particularly in this era of high structure and narrow standards. Any schools with an interest in reform will be deeply moved and motivated by this tape. The tape is available from IALA and includes a printed copy of the commentary. Highly recommended but be warned, your pagadigms will be altered!


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:53 AM

April 04, 2004

8 Year Study: Now Available!

One of the most famous and sound studies in American Education is the 8 Year Study which led to the oft-repeated comment that the further you departed from conventional high school education the better the results. Five volumes described the study but they are almost impossible to find. Fortunately, the summary in the entire volume I, The Story of the Eight Year Study is now is available online due to the good work by the Maine Association for Middle Level Learning with the cooperation of the University of Maine.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:03 PM

March 25, 2004

Homeschooling: A Learning Alternative

Homeschooling has grown dramatically in the past decade. The U.S. Dept. of Education estimates that close to 1,000,000 students are in home schools up sharply since 1995. Homeschoolers fall into two rough categories: those who want certain religious beliefs inculcated and those who want a more progressive individualized program. An excellent article describes how it works for several families and provides good background information.
(Illustration / Aaron Meshon)


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:39 PM

March 17, 2004

Another Alternative: Career Academies

From an article: Established more than 30 years ago, Career Academies have become a widely used high school reform initiative that aims to keep students engaged in school and prepare them for successful transitions to post-secondary education and employment. Typically serving between 150 and 200 high school students from grade 9 or 10 through grade 12, Career Academies are organized as small learning communities, combine academic and technical curricula around a career theme, and establish partnerships with local employers to provide work-based learning opportunities. There are estimated to be more than 2,500 Career Academies across the country according to their network.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:36 PM

March 15, 2004

Position Paper on NCLB by WALA

The Washington Association for Learning Alternatives has published a position paper on No Child Left Behind calling attention to its potentially harmful effects on education, particularly alternative programs. The carefully written and thorough paper describes WALA's efforts over the past 30 years to provide appropriate educational programs that enable ALL students to succeed.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:58 AM

March 03, 2004

Valuable Database of State Alternatives

The Education Commission of the States has compiled a very useful database of all 50 states and the islands showing policies and statutes for educational choices including open enrollment, charter schools, vouchers, tax credits and tax deductions and dual/concurrent enrollment.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:03 AM

February 27, 2004

Residential Academies

Ray Morley, IALA board member and prolific contributor to educational alternatives for many years has described a rapidly growing phenomenia, that of residential academies. For a quick look at this concept see his paper, "Residential Education: A Topic for Consideration in Alternative Education." He also describes the Coalition for Residential Education.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:05 PM

February 24, 2004

2000 Applicants for 3 Online Schools

One of the fastest growing educational alternatives is virtual schools or online schools. These schools service students in their homes and operate without a school building. Those in the public sector collect state aid for each student they enroll. This story describes three online schools started by Wisconsin school districts had applicants that far exceeded initial expectations. Online schools are so new (though around for five years) that state funding authorities haven't caught up with how to regulate them. Online schools operate at every level: elementary, secondary and college from undergraduate to post-doctoral. For example, University of Phoenix has become the one of the largest universities in the world through its online degrees. Homeschoolers have found virtual schools an attractive adjunct with courses far beyond what parents could arrange on their own.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:32 PM

February 11, 2004

Is Your Alternative School Authentic?

John Loflin has produced a survey for alternative schools to examine their faithfulness to true alternative educational principles. He calls it the Pseudo-Alternative Checklist. It's a reality check for schools and a reminder of what originators of the alternative movement had in mind for educational choices. In addition to the survey (there are two forms), Loflin provides a rationale for the checklists, and a set of best practices with an extensive bibliography. You will find this material useful because of its specifics. Loflin's material is a welcome addition to extensive materials at the IALA website.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:08 AM

February 04, 2004

National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools

The NCACS is a non-profit supporting alternative educational approaches and exchanges among its members, who are mostly small community-centered nonpublic schools. Its next national conference will be at The Farm, an alternative school in Summertown, Tennessee, May 6-9, 2004.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:29 PM

January 28, 2004

Cyber Schools

Cyber schools, also called virtual schools or online schools, may be the fastest growing alternative, estimated at 60 schools nationally and perhaps serving 50,000 students according to a new report, Cyber and Home School Charter Schools: How States are Defining New Forms of Public Schooling by Luis A. Huerta of Teachers College, Columbia University. The report discusses policy issues of "non-classroom based" schools in classic "clicks" vs. "bricks" models.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:34 AM

January 11, 2004

Book Report

Saving Our Students, Saving Our Schools: 50 Proven Strategies for Revitalizing At-Risk Students and Low-Performing Schools Robert Barr and William Parrett developed this 500 page comprehensive guide to school improvement. Chapter 8, for example, "Create Caring Classrooms, Schools and Communities of Support" suggest four key strategies, action steps, references, and a reflection page. (2003, Pearson, Skylight).


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:52 AM

Residential Schools

Seed School (real name, Schools for Educational Evolution and Development), a residential boarding charter secondary school for at-risk students in Washington, DC has received a great deal of publicity for its success. The program provides students a high degree of structure and academic rigor. It claims a high success in turning around the lives of its students.

Core, an organization has information on starting residential boarding schools for at-risk students, a likely area of growth for alternative education in the future according to Ray Morley with the Iowa Department of Education (rcmorley@cheerful.com) where a recent study indicated that more than 4,000 adolescents need alternative living arrangements.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:16 AM

Education Revolution Conference

The Alternative Education Resource Organization will celebrate its 15th year of operation with a conference at The Russell Sage College at Troy, New York, June 25-27, 2004. Headed by Jerry Mintz, AERO provides a great source of information about alternative education around the globe. Consider joining to gain access to an excellent database, particularly about democratic and progressive schools. Consider, also their upcoming conference this summer. AERO also provides a listserv for IALA.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:36 AM

December 19, 2003

High Schools: Need for Alternatives

Indicators of serious problems in high schools continue to pop up like secrets that cannot be suppressed. Now the National Research Council of the National Academies (probably the nation's most prestigious and unbiased organization) has published, Engaging Schools: Fostering High School Students' Motivation to Learn, a report showing a grim picture of high schools unlikely to surprise teachers in even the best of schools that high school students lack any sense of purpose or real connection with what they are doing in the classroom. You can order the book or read it on line.
This is mindful of a book, Another Planet by Elinor Burkett descibing an existing successful suburban high school in which the author spent a year documenting that for students, high school is another planet.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:28 PM

December 16, 2003

International Study of Educational Choices

Implementing Education for All: Moving from Goals to Action from The Mackinac Center for Public Policy describes the efforts to provide universal primary education in all nations by 2015. Choices of public and private schools and their reach have fallen far short of meeting the goal. Increasing private forms of education with governmental subsidies, as a number of countries currently do, may retard the growth of public education but nonetheless produce better results. This report references other important studies in international education.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:12 PM

December 05, 2003

Choices: State by State

A new report by the Heritage Foundation, School Choice 2003: How States Are Providing Greater Opportunity In Education provides a detailed and even-handed account of each state showing the kinds of choices and their history of alternatives over time. This remarkable book is 260 pages of valuable and reliable data on choices state by state! It's downloadable.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:20 PM

December 03, 2003

Choices in Wisconsin

Several references to alternatives or choices have popped up in Wisconsin. One is about online schools or virtual schools and controversy surrounding their approval. Another is a study, Charter Schools in Wisconsin: Assessing Form and Performance by Dr. John Witte of the University of Wisconsin addressing to what degree charter schools are offering additional choices to parents and determining their performance. Another article, Public Charter Schools: The Next Generation of Innovation suggests that charter Schools offer considerable promise to support new approaches ot schooling.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:12 AM

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!


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.


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.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:11 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.


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."


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:11 PM

November 01, 2003

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.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:20 PM

October 01, 2003

New School Choice Report

School Choice 2003: How States Are Providing Greater Opportunity In Education is a new 297 page report on Choices in the U.S. by the Heritage Foundation. It includes a splendid map of the kinds of choices in each state, discussions of vouchers, home schooling, charter schools, open enrollment with the major part, a state by state analysis. Also included is a glossary and a list of national organizations that support school choice. The report can be downloaded as a pdf file.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:03 PM

September 13, 2003

Sources of Information on Educational Alternatives

Ray Morley made a great contribution by listing a huge bank of resources in his Resources in Alternative Education. It includes national information centers, books, historical references, journals, high school research reports, readings, legal references, position statements, facts and projections, research on federally sponsored models, and keys to success. This can be a first stop seeking info on alternatives.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:49 AM

September 04, 2003

Ultimate Alternative School

David Douglas from New Hamshire delineates the key features of an "ultimate school" in a recent piece he sent. He suggests a checklist of 16 features for school personnel and parents to stimulate discussion about how their schools can improve or transform. See other writing and ideas at the Ultimate School Network.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 04:30 PM

August 26, 2003

Convention Presentations

The IALA conference at Valley Forge, PA had many fine presentations. Three of these are available under the Alternatives button:
1. The keynote address by Don Glines: Educational Alternatives For Everyone---All The Time---A Discourse On Democratic Education Through Learning Alternatives.
2. Motivating Unmotivated Students Through Learning Alternatives by Don Glines.
3. A Plea For Comprehensive Educational Alternatives by Don Glines.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:31 AM

August 19, 2003

Source and Magazine on Alternatives

Very comprehensive coverage, particularly of democratic and small private alternative schools, including international coverage, is found in Education Revolution, published 4 times a year.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:22 PM

August 01, 2003

Alternative Education in Minnesota

A new paper "Alternative-Education Programs: The ‘Quiet Giant" in Minnesota Public Education" describes the rapid growth of student enrollment and programs. About 1 in 4 students at the secondary level use alternative programs full or part time. Many' but not all programs, are for at-risk students. Much of this growth has occurred in the past 5 years.

The study comes from Education Evolving, a group urging policy initiatives led by Ted Kolderie and Joe Graba.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:54 AM

Types of Alternatives

We invite you to add to this list of educational alternatives that are a choice for students. Send additional items by using the Contact Us button and we'll make the list more comprehensive. Here's a start on the list: charter schools, Montessori schools, Waldorf schools, online schools, distant learning programs, magnet schools, private schools, schools within schools, open schools, storefront schools, at-risk schools, voucher programs, religion schools, vocational schools, middle colleges, GED programs.

Of course, some of these categories are very specific. Others like charter schools convey a wide range of practices. It is estimated by Dr. Robert Barr that there are some 20,000 alternatives in the U.S.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:29 AM

School Choice Issues

A recent article from the Education Commission of the States summarizes school choice in the U.S. Its based on a study by the National Center for Education Statistics conducted for the years 1993-1999 and shows an increase in the numbers of students in educational options.

Another study "Mapping SCHOOL CHOICE in Massachusetts:
Data and Findings 2003,"
describes the kinds of options and the extent of their use in MA, trends, the national context and details about choices in the Boston area.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:15 AM

June 19, 2003

Types of Alternatives

John Loflin, in a recent article, describes the types of alternatives (Type I, II, III) and critiques Indiana's alternatives which are too often "soft jails" for at-risk youth and marshalls a persuasive argument for alternatives for all students. He wants to see school districts and the state take a more proactive position to provide choices of programs for everyone.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:48 AM

Legislation Favorable to Learning Alternatives

Want to find out the laws in your state about educational alternatives? Want to suggest changes in your state's laws and need examples from other states? Check our legislation button. There you will see some specific states plus an index to legislation in all states and helpful hints.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:42 AM

May 20, 2003

Study of Alternative Schools

The National Center for Educational Statistics polled U.S. schools to determine the nature of alternative programs. They found 10,900 public schools serving 612,900 at-risk students. There are other alternative schools but this 2002 study examined just public schools serving at-risk students. The study contains much useful data on a little examined area. For example, 12 percent of the student population in at-risk schools had IEPs, about the same as the general population of students in district schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:52 PM

April 30, 2003

Legislation Supporting Alternatives

Many states have laws that support educational options and choices. For a beginning list see our compilation which we would like to add to. If you have a reference to your state's statutes, please send it to Wayne Jennings through our Contact Us button and we'll add it to our list. These references can be helpful to policy people and others working to establish and beef up state and national legislation.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:01 PM