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)

September 07, 2005

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 19, 2005

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)

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)

June 27, 2005

School Choice Report

The Congressional Research Service produces authoritative reports for Capitol.jpgCongress. The reports are not public but can be requested through your representative or senator, if you know what to ask for. Now a service makes these reports available and I recommend the first 10 pages of an excellent summary of all types of school choices ranging over: intra-district, inter-district, charter schools, tax subsidies, subsidies to private schools, school vouchers, and supplemental educational services. It also describes various types of federal assistance for school choice.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:39 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2005

Great Journals on Alternatives

Here are recommendations for two magazines for ideas on new approaches to education. Edutopia is a free, colorful journal from the George Lucas Foundation. Every issue is packed with examples of schools and practices to spark learning. The George Lucas Foundation provides many resources such as videos and DVDs to motivate change.

Reclaiming Youth.jpgReclaiming Children and Youth always amazes me. Their unique focus on new ways to serve high-needs youth establishes a different paradigm--often that of youth as a resource or as a person trying to do the right thing.

Both are excellent additions even with the load of reading and work we all do!

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

March 19, 2005

Virtual Schools Study

A thorough study of funding and regulations of online (virtual) schools in Washington enlightens the subject about such topics as:

This carefully conducted and well-written report found that both "high" and "low" achieving students use online courses and programs and makes recommendations for their continuance.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:53 AM

March 07, 2005

Comprehensive School Reform Report

Congress gave $145 million for school reform in 1998 and more in subsequent years. The Longitudinal Assessment of Comprehensive School Reform Program Implementation and Outcomes reports on year one of the grants. Schools which received funding exercised more staff decision making authority, adopted national reform models and followed a written plan more than other schools engaged in reform. Also the funding targeted low income schools, a goal of the legislation. It will be interesting to learn if substantive lasting reform emerges in the coming yearly reports. The report says the schools had a positive start.

Sadly, the past lengthy history of school reform efforts, even when well funded, demonstrates that not much happens and little endures.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:09 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 28, 2005

High School Redesign

A new report, State Strategies for Redesigning High Schools and Promoting High School to College Transitions by the Education Commission of the States is the latest in a long saga of reports from various sources calling for significant reform of high schools. This brief (6 pages) describes the problem, suggests changes and outlines the initiatives in several states. It also provides valuable links to other studies and reports. Lynn Olson in a related article, "Calls for Revamping High Schools Intensify" pours on more fuel and provides additional articles on the topic.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:52 AM

Charter Schools: Good or Bad Alternative?

Numerous studies have tried to assess the charter school movement. This is like trying to say public schools in general are successful or are unsuccessful. Charter schools vary enormously from highly experimental to ultra traditional, from serving affluent suburban students to rescuing high-need students, and from tiny to huge. Judgments about charter schools usually focus on test score comparisions lumping all these diverse schools together--hardly good research. In addition, there is usually no attempt in studies to tease out beginning schools vs. experienced schools in existence, say, 8-10 years or more (few schools in the nation qualify with the 13 year history of charter schools). Likewise, little mention is made of the considerable financial handicap almost all charter schools operate under. Paul Hill at the University of Washington addressed this topic thoughtfully and comprehensively in an article, "Assessing Student Performance in Charter Schools."


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:22 AM

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

Nonpublic School Choices Increase

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


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:28 PM

December 11, 2004

Choices Expanding with Charter Schools

Two examples of the rapidly changing rules around charter schools illustrate an "institutional bypass" of the present system. In New York City, with 25 charter schools, the sytem plans to create 50 more chartered schools as "seeds of change" for the remainder of the district. The only mayor in the U.S. with the authority to create charter schools is Bart Peterson in Indianapolis. He has opened or has plans to serve 4,500 students in charters in the next year and is seeking more beyond that. Another report, The Rugged Frontier: A Decade of Charter Schooling in Arizona describes the conditions in Arizona which has more charter schools than any state, about 500 sites.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:57 PM

Changing High School

Because high schools have been so resistant to change, educational choices have expanded enormously. Why can't high schools change? A provocative essay, "The Blind Men and the High School" descibes six strategies to change school. Each states a strategy, problem definition and theory of action. Here is one of the stategies as an example:

Strategy: Devise new institutional forms for secondary education: "Early college" high schools, small high schools, schools-within-schools, charter schools, "KIPP" high schools, virtual high schools. Much has been said and done on this front, and the innovations take many shapes, as do the choice schemes whereby young people and their parents can access the version that works best for them.

Problem definition: The circa-1950s, one-size-fits-all, "comprehensive high school" is dysfunctional and off-putting for many, besides being an inefficient, out-moded vehicle for teaching them what they need to learn.

Theory of action: Create new options for delivering and receiving secondary education, using technology, modern organizational theory, out-sourcing and the like, then give young people choices.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:29 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

November 01, 2004

How to Change Schools

Ted Kolderie's new book, Creating the Capacity for Change: How and Why Governors and Legislatures Are Opening a New School Sector in Public Education calls into question the assumption that the country can create the schools it wants by changing the schools it has. He says making incremental changes will not produce new schools. It never has in the past and the forces of status quo will prevent it in the future. The answer: start over with brand-new schools. It's the only way to get the schools we want for the 21st-century.

The book is free while supplies last by e-mailing the author at tkolderie@qwest.net or downloading it online from the Education Evolving website, which has much interesting reading.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:21 AM

Comprehensive School Reform

Comprehensive school reform efforts say different forms of schooling are necessary. There have been many such attempts over the past 15 years often with gigantic sums of money attached. A new report, From Whole School to Whole System Reform, describes two major approches: the work of the New American Schools in 4,000 schools and the federal Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration program in 5,000 schools with over $1,000,000,000 of funding. They define comprehensive reform as including: "instruction, assessment, classroom management, professional development, parental involvement, school management, aligning the school’s curriculum, technology, and professional development into a schoolwide reform plan. Wow, that should really change the operation of the nation's schools! Unfortunately, as with many other such efforts, after the dust clears, precious little has changed. Still, the report describes these considerable efforts and the small achievement gains made in some schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:47 AM

October 19, 2004


The Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation provides a huge amount of information on vouchers as their major advocates. They also provide much backgound information on school choice, its research through online articles and links. Milton Friedman a Nobel Laureate economist and Rose Friedman, also an economist, are an unabashed supporters of "school choice to improve, through competition, the quality of K-12 education for all." This is a good source of background and current information on vouchers and examples of their implementation.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 04:58 PM

Magnet Schools

A new publication from the US Department Of Education, Innovations in Education: Creating Successful Magnet School Programs, provides a valuable guide. It is downloadable with sections on how to start a magnet program, how to promote it, how to implement it and how to assess it. It includes forms, sample ads six examples of magnet programs , research and additional resources.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:13 PM

September 27, 2004

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

September 12, 2004

Resources for Charter Schools

One-way to accomplish new learning alternatives is to create charter schools, now available in various degrees of autonomy in 41 states. There are numerous resource manuals with much technical assistance available. Here are a few web sites where you can read or download guides, which are detailed and helpful: Official U.S. Charter Schools website

Center for School Change at U. of Minnesota

State Organizations

Charter Friends National Network


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:07 AM

August 13, 2004

Tough Love for School Reform

Frederick M. Hess says that school reformers undermine their own best efforts while distracting public attention and energy from the larger, structural problems. The real crisis, he writes, is that so few of our schools are excellent, so many are mediocre, and yet we, the adults responsible, are content to tinker and theorize. Demands for radical change are often met by protestations of good intentions, pleas for patience, and an endless stream of ineffectual reforms. Read his thoughtful "common sense agenda" for tough-minded accountability.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:24 PM

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

Mental Health in Schools

A fine resource on mental health issues in schools comes from the federally funded UCLA School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools. Subscribe to a free monthly email newsletter (also available in hard copy). They provide many resources on the topic of school mental health such as: staff burnout, student motivation, conferences, healthy environments, resouces, links research and much more. A terrific resource on the topic of school mental health. Remember, dissatisfaction with schools drives alternatives.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:57 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

Enemies Sharpen Resistance to Charter Schools

During 2003-04, 3,000 charter schools (independent public schools) served 700,000 students in the U.S. The movement started in 1991 with the first charter statute in Minnesota. Enrollment increased 40% between 1999 and 2003. Now 41 states and DC have charter laws. Clearly, this threatens the established system and it's fighting back. For example, the Massachusetts Legislature voted a freeze on more charter schools. Governor Romney vetoed the bill. Washington (state) enacted a new charter law but it's suspended pending a statewide referendum this November. Another tactic is to try for anti-charter candidates.

Much is being written about charter schools which generally have enjoyed bi-partisan support. The official government supportedsource contains a wealth of information including an email newsletter about this significant movement.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:27 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

May 31, 2004

Design for New Schools: CLC

The Community Learning Centers model was developed to "redesign American education." A huge database of information is available about its features and how to implement them. It includes: personal learning plans, professional learning plans, differentiated staffing, performance pay, advisor program, technology use, thematic instruction, service learning, school board operations (charter), brain compatible learning, and other topics with detailed descriptions.

This is highly useful for people planning new schools who need to think differently about education. The CLC model was developed by Designs for Learning, a St. Paul, MN consulting firm.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 04:52 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

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

March 24, 2004

Voucher Plans Rated

The Milton Friedman Foundation, a long time proponent of vouchers, has ranked the thirteen voucher plans in the U.S. Florida’s McKay Scholarship ranked the best with an A-. Milwaukee's plan, the oldest got a C. Colorado, the newest, got a B-.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:35 AM

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

Breaking Ranks II Calls for Major Reforms

Breaking Ranks II: Strategies for Leading High School Reform published by the National Association of Secondary School Principals reaffirms and strengthens recommendations in the earlier 1996 addition. A free copy of the report is being sent to every high school principal in America with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The recommendations are bold and systemic but in my view are as unlikely to come to fruition as they were when published earlier. That unhappy outcome simply shows again the difficulty of making major reforms in well-established institutions.

Hence, the need for alternatives and the power of starting schools from scratch.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:41 AM

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 24, 2004

3,000 Charter Schools and State Ratings

The public school charter movement has hit 2,996 schools this school year, the 12th year of the movement. The Center for Educational Reform provides a useful chart of each state, the number of charter schools and a rating of each state's charter school laws as to their strength. For example, of the 41 states with charter statutes, six got an "A" grade and two an "F." About 750,000 students attend charter schools this year.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:47 PM

January 31, 2004

Recent Reports on Vouchers and Educational Choices

"Evaluation of the Cleveland Scholarship and Tutoring Program: 1998-2002" by the Indiana Center for Evaluation presents the accumulated findings of a four-year study of Cleveland's voucher program.

As part of a recently passed spending bill, the U.S. Congress created a publicly funded voucher program for the District of Columbia. The bill provides $13 million to cover vouchers of up to $7,500 for at least 1,700 children once the program is phased in. Children in families whose household income does not exceed 185% of the federal poverty line will receive priority.

The Brookings Institution established the National Working Commission on Choice in K-12 Education to explore how CHOICE works and to examine how communities interested in the potential benefits of new school options. The commission's report, entitled "School Choice: Doing It the Right Way Makes a Difference," explores choice in terms of four key issues: benefits to children whose parents choose new schools; benefits to children whose families do not exercise choice; effects on the national commitment to equal opportunity and school desegregation; and advancement of social cohesion and common democratic values.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:13 AM

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

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

Charter Schools Study

A new report, Charter Schools Today: Changing the Face of American Education, by The Center for Education Reform describes the charter school movement in 24 states. The report says, "In 24 states that offer good data, charters have
made notable gains, particularly in serving a wide spectrum of students. In addition to serving 'average' populations, charters are serving exceptionally well children of color, children with special needs and huge numbers of poor children. More importantly, parents of these students report high satisfaction with the education their children are finally receiving." Descriptions are of programs in these states: AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, NJ, NY, NC, PA, SC, TX, UT, WI.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:51 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

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

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.


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.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:32 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

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

August 25, 2003

Great Links to Alternative Education

The Iowa Association of Alternative Education has a fine web site and loads of links to other sources of info on alternatives, articles, and books.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:45 PM

June 05, 2003

Exciting Schools

The George Lucas Educational Foundation has for the past 10 years published a newsletter describing a revolution in learning. I highly recommend their online videos of amazing schools K-12 where students do active learning. These are compelling stories and very helpful for staff development. Teachers get excited when they can see and feel the difference active learning produces in student engagement. In addition to the videos, they have many other resources that can be accessed via their site. After you get to their site, click on the video gallery.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:59 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

March 21, 2003

Iowa Conference

Iowa will hold its annual conference on alternative programs April 10-11, 2003 in Council Bluffs, IA. Speakers include Dr. Steve Sroka, Wayne Sakamoto, Dr. Ray Morley. There will be breakout sessions and exhibitor booths.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:14 AM

Minnesota Conference

The Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs (MAAP) held its annual conference Feb. 19-21, 2003 in Rochester, MN. 825 people attended. The keynote speaker was Deborah Meier, former principal of Central Park East schools in New York City and now co-principal of Mission Hill School in Boston and author of several books. 75 breakout sessions featured such topics as new forms of education, teaching methods, brain based learning, service learning, experiential learning, the MAAP student organization (STARS).

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 08:37 AM