Category Archives: Alternatives

Videos of New Types of Schools

A ten part set of short videos (about ten minutes each) describe Mission Hill K-8 School in Boston, an elementary school founded by Deborah Meier. The school a part of the Boston public school has greater decision making authority as a “pilot” school and emphasizes democratic principles. The video series, A Year at Mission Hill [...]

Could Students Design Their Own Education?

An article in the Washington Post describes a high school pilot program (school within the school) where students were given total freedom to decide and implement their education. The students describe the program’s operation in a video. They describe greater dedication, engagement, interest and energy in self-selected areas of interests, skills and competencies and as [...]

National and State Alternative Education Conferences

Mark your calendar for any of the following conferences about alternatives of interest to you or colleagues. The annual 32nd Minnesota Association for Alternative Programs will be held February 11-13, 2015. The National At-Risk Education Network (NAREN) will hold its 12th annual conference April 22-24, 2015 in Baltimore.

50 Unique Colleges

Start Building Your Unique Future is a website helping students determine higher education options. Their 50 Unique Colleges Every Non-Traditional Student Should Consider lists an an exciting group of universities with descriptions and links. These include Evergreen State College, College of the Atlantic, Goucher College, Naropa University, Antioch College and 45 more including online colleges. [...]

Australia Choices Study

Learning Choices: A Map for the Future, a comprehensive national report, describes the existing education choices in Australia for secondary age youth. It pulls together existing research and evidence, summarizes data and findings, identifies gaps in knowledge and offers recommendations. The report includes a valuable resource of other research on Australian alternative education. This is [...]

Institute for Democratic Education in America

A fairly new organization the, Institute for Democratic Education in America identifies critical areas for learning that “equip every human being to participate fully in a healthy democracy.” Their website urges reinventing education strategically, collaboratively, and sustainably. It offers examples, links, definitions, invitations to become involved and a host of resources. Clearly, an up-and-coming organization [...]

School Choice Necessary for Education

The Brown Center on Education at Brookings published a system for ranking school districts on how much choice of educational programs is afforded children. They argue that options are necessary  and valuable in an article and short video. Their rank of 25 large cities on 13 criteria ranges from grades B to D.  Their booklet Expanding [...]

Leaders Affirm the Importance of Choice

The Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and the US Department of Education assembled leaders from 20 of the largest school district for a discussion of providing choices. Their report Reforming Districts Through Choice, Autonomy, Equity, and Accountability: An Overview of the Voluntary Public School Choice Directors Meeting strongly affirmed the importance of providing learning alternatives [...]

Whyville, Home to 6 Million Students

The developer in 1999 of Whyville, Dr. James Bower gives a delightful talk entitled, The Death of Textbooks, Emergence of Games in a little over an hour webinar and describes the fascination young students have with creating an alter ego (avatar) and a whole new world to shape and manipulate. Whyville now attracts 5,000 teachers and some 6.8 [...]

Pathways to Prosperity

Pathways to Prosperity Project based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education released a major new report examining the reasons for our failure to prepare so many young adults, and advancing an exciting vision for how the United States might regain the leadership in educational attainment it held for over a century. Pathways to Prosperity: [...]

How To Videos: Extraordinary Resource

EdVisions Schools have made their Design Essentials videos available to all. These are profoundly helpful in seeing how a variety of educational practices are conducted in project-based learning and non-course based schools or others moving toward student-centered learning. Here are examples from the category Self-Directed, Project-Based Learning: Self-directed, project-based learning primary focus; driven by constructivist [...]

Ultimate Parent Empowerment

California’s “parent trigger ” law enacted in 2010 permits parents with a 51% vote in a failing school to either close the school, replace the school’s administrators, replace the school’s teachers, or convert the school into a charter. Making the news, parents at McKinley Elementary School in Compton California voted 60% to transform their school [...]

School Reformers Missing Crucial Ingredient

Marc Prensky, originator of the terms digital native and digital immigrant, writes that today’s education reformers miss the most important ingredient for education change, namely the curriculum. He states, reformers speak of the importance of teachers and principals, methods of instruction, length of the day and year, teacher preparation and other factors but assume the conventional [...]

Research on School Choice

The National Center on School Choice conducts scholarly research on school choice including such topics as: charter schools, magnet schools, voucher programs, private schools and inter/intra distict choice. The center located at Vanderbilt University is funded ($13.5 million) by the USDE Institute of Education Sciences since 2004 with partners among others at Brown, Harvard, Indiana, Notre Dame and Stanford [...]

Charter School Funding: Bugaboo Factor

100s of charter school studies have assessed the viability of the movement particularly on student achievement as measured by standardized tests. One study shows charter schools students do better than comparison groups, another shows they are about the same, another shows charter school students do poorer than comparison groups. Two major criticisms of these studies [...]