Dispelling Urban Myths About Union Alternative School
Myth #1: The Alternative School is where all of the bad kids have to go.
Fact #1: No one has to attend the Alternative School; it is strictly a voluntary program. Students who want to be considered for enrollment turn in an application, attend an informational forum with their parents, and undergo an interview with the school’s principal or counselor. Since the school is always full and always has a waiting list, only those students who need the program the most and are most likely to benefit from it are accepted.
Myth #2: Alt Ed students aren’t like the kids in my neighborhood.
Fact #2: Alt Ed students represent a broad cross section of Union students. The only thing Alternative students have in common is that they were having a hard time getting through the regular education program before coming to Alternative. They come from every elementary school in Union, from wealthy families and impoverished families, from every race, and equally from both genders. Their commonality is that—no matter what has happened in the past—they are ready to put their problems behind them and get their education off to a new start.
Myth #3: Alternative students make good grades only because the classes are easier.
Fact #3: Alt Ed students’ grades improve because of their school’s counselors help. Counselors help them to overcome problems so that they can focus on their studies, because the school has an outstanding teaching staff who have dedicated their careers to helping struggling students learn to succeed, and because these students work very hard. Alt Ed students must take the same classes as regular education students, must cover the same curriculum, and must pass the same EOIs in order to graduate.
Myth #4: The Alternative School staff are very selective in deciding which students enter the school. They don’t take students who have significant deficiencies.
Fact #4: The mean grade point average for students entering the Alternative School over the past 11 years is 0.9. The average student entering the program was absent 22 days during his or her last semester in regular education - 46 percent of entering students had been suspended for a total of 16,794 days in regular ed over the past 11 years. While in Alt Ed, these same students accumulated a GPA of 2.9, they attended classes 94 percent of the time, and only 4 percent have been suspended for a total of 1,238 days—a 93 percent reduction.