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EDUCATION REPORT – July 17, 2003: Alternative Education - 2003-07-16

This is the VOA Special English Education Report.

Some young people in the United States attend alternative schools. These are schools that offer subject material or teaching methods that are different from traditional public or private schools.

Some parents choose alternative schools because they want an education planned especially for their children’s needs and strengths. The Marcus Garvey School, for example, is a private school in Los Angeles. It was established to help black families who were not happy with the schools in a poor area of the city. The school places importance on subject material related to African American culture. Student test scores are often two or more years above grade level.

Music is at the center of studies at an alternative school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Many students at the Girard Academic Music Program Neighborhood School are also from poor families. They study the traditional subjects taught at other high schools. But they also read and write their own music. Almost all finish school. Most plan to go to college.

Some students get an alternative education without leaving home. Online public and private schools offer a chance to learn by computer. For example, physical disabilities prevented a young man in Pennsylvania from attending his local high school. But he recently completed his high school requirements through an Internet school.

Students in alternative schools may also have emotional or other problems that interfere with a traditional education. Many alternative schools that help such young people also provide them with a place to live. Students ages fourteen to eighteen at Rocky Mountain Academy near Sandpoint, Idaho, live in group housing. The college preparatory program includes what is known as adventure-based learning through outdoor education.

In Texas, the Dallas area operates independent public schools for young people who have broken the law. These students are under the control of the Dallas County Juvenile Probation Department. About five-hundred students attend these schools. Officials say that once these young people are released from the criminal justice system, many go on to attend traditional schools.

This VOA Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.