December 19, 2004

Nonpublic School Choices Increase

The latest study (2001-2002) of nonpublic schools, Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results From the 20012002 Private Universe Survey by the U.S. Dept. of Education show:


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:28 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

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

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

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

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.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:14 PM

September 13, 2003

Lifelong Learning

There has been a growing movement to reinvent how people learn and how young people are introduced into society. Homeschooling, charter schools, cyberschools, unschooling, life-long learning, Waldorf schools, and Sudbury schools are just a few of the elements of this movement. Life-long learning has been promoted by management guru Peter Drucker in "Post Capitalist Society" on one end of the spectrum and, on the other end, by Elise Boulding in "Building Global Civic Culture," and by many scholars in between. The bottom line in this movement is to provide the freedom, opportunity and resources for self-learners of all ages, with their families and in community, to choose to learn what they want, when they want and how they want. In spite of the rapid growth of this movement, it has drawn little positive attention from governments. Learn more about the strategies of the self-learning movement.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:13 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