The Importance of Alternative Schools (by Cristal Vega)


I have been volunteering at an alternative school, called CREATE, that helps teen parents and youth with behavioral needs or academic struggles. I have seen how this school gives more understanding and patience to each student’s uniqueness. Students are able to work on their own pace without falling behind and are in smaller sizes classrooms which allows more help for each individual. Alternative Education is not well known by parents or students but it is something the traditional schools don’t always want to allow their students to go to.  

Research Collection:

This article from Colorado Children’s Campaign talks about how traditional public schools’ cannot meet the needs of many at-risk students. It gives recommendations in ways the alternative education can improve to give the students better learning opportunities. This article doesn’t only talk about Colorado’s education it, also, looks at other states that have successfully improve their alternative education opportunities for the at-risk students.

This article illustrates how the alternative education has improve and how it has helped students to graduate from high school. This schools help students both socio-emotionally and academically by providing the best that wasn’t offer in the traditional school.

  • Jeong‐Hee Kim (2011) Narrative inquiry into (re)imagining alternative schools: a case study of Kevin Gonzales, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 24:1, 77-96, DOI: 10.1080/09518390903468321. Nov. 2013. <>

This article talks about how alternative schools are viewed as “dumping grounds” because this is where students go to when they are not successful in the traditional public school system. Also, describes the history of why this alternative schools are viewed as ‘ideal haven’, ‘warehouse’, and ‘school/prison continuum. It contains a journal from Kevin Gonzales that talks about his experience in the alternative school.

Kevin Gonzales journal describes how he see’s life, his opinions of life, and his drug history. His story is a reminder that not all students will succeed in the traditional school setting. The alternative school that I have volunteered in isn’t like a juvenile detention, such as, Kevin’s school. Reading this journal gave me the opportunity to see how other alternative schools work.

  • “Alternative Schooling.” National Dropout Prevention Center/Network, n.d. Web. Nov. 2013.

This article explains in detail why an alternative school is needed.  Alternative schools accommodate the educational needs of the students that the traditional school wasn’t able to provide in the first place.  It explains the difference of the alternative programs. Numerous models of alternative schools have been developed for the varied degree of success. This article gives you an understanding of the elements for how an alternative school is successful.

I like this reading because it explains how an alternative school should be like in order to be successful. It illustrates how many kind of programs are available to students for an opportunity to finish their education if the traditional public school is not working for the students to succeed.

This article also explains the definitions of the different alternative programs for those you cannot succeeded in a traditional school.

I like this article because it explains how the Alternative school works the same way it works where I volunteer in. The untraditional school use the same curriculum that the traditional schools uses but with the difference of how its taught.

Public Writing:

I wrote a letter for one of the high schools the alternative school, where I have been volunteering, is contracted with. Explaining why should they allow students attend this alternative school, CREATE.


John O’Neill, Assistant Superintendent

Forest Grove School District

1728 Main St.

Forest Grove, OR 97116

Dear Mr. O’Neill:

My name is Cristal Vega.  I am a graduate of FGHS and a student at PCC.  One of my courses requires that I complete a community project and conduct research related to a theme. My theme is education and its associated social concerns. The project’s culminating activity is to write a letter to someone who makes decisions connected to these concerns.  The letter is to convey a personal position regarding a specific issue. Consequently, I would like to state that I believe that  a significant number of students would benefit from attending alternative education programs  and  that school districts should  give students and families a larger role in deciding which programs students attend.

Statistics demonstrate that districts experience a significant drop in serious disciplinary incidents when at-risk youth are enrolled in alternative education programs. Research, furthermore, indicates that traditional school systems are unable to meet the specific social-emotional and academic requirements of many students. Still, alternative schools are underutilized and are often characterized as lesser programs or places for “throw away kids.” It’s time that traditional education systems re-examine their ideas regarding alternative schools and take advantage of the programs’ services.

I am especially interested in seeing that the CREATE Program is available to more students. CREATE, the school which has been the subject of my community project, has a contract with FGSD to serve twenty-five students. CALC, the district alterative school, works with over one hundred students and still the need for alternative services has not been met. I am concerned that many students are falling behind because they are unable to access educational programs that match their learning styles, interests, and specific needs. The district should make better use of alternative programs such as CREATE.

CREATE has eight employees, four of whom have master’s degrees, two of whom have bachelor’s degrees, and two of whom have associates degrees. The staff has over 88 years of experience working with at-risk, low- achieving youth.  Furthermore, staff members are specialists in the needs and struggles of Latino students, a group that is statistically among the credit deficient.

I am a former student of CREATE. I know from experience the power of alternative education.  I came to CREATE as a teen mom a semester behind in credits and in need of caring, easily accessible childcare. I left as a graduate with a spot at PCC and plans for a career in law.


Cristal Vega



Author’s Note:

While working on my public writing I was trying to figure out how to focus in not being negative or rude in order for my letter to be affective and to be considered. I was nervous knowing that someone will read the letter and disagree with me. This is the first time I write a letter like this and it gets me irritating because I don’t know how the person who will receive this letter is going to responded.



  1. Mark Hedgepeth

    Hi Crista,
    I loved your subject. Probably, because I have a step son who struggled all through school and ended up dropping out. He didn’t fit in as a “mainstream” kid, never had. Even during his Kindergarten years he struggled. My step son would had benefited from this type of program. The smaller classrooms and working at their own pace.

    You did a good job with your research collections. The article from Jeong‐Hee was interesting. I can see how people would perceived alternative schools that way.

    Your letter to Mr. O’Neill was powerful. I hope he responds back to you. Strong work on the whole project. I enjoyed reading the articles that your presented. I would like to see more alternative schools in place. Not every child fits into a certain mold.

  2. Cristal: You did a great job giving the reader context through your research and writing an important letter designed to encourage students/schools to take the CREATE option when it makes the most sense. Do post back here when you get a response! I look forward to hearing more about the conversation you’ve started with this work.

  3. Cristal, I enjoy reading about Alternative school. I think it is a great opportunity for a variety of students. Students, who are struggling, or students who are having a hard time with the regular traditional school and even for students who are in trouble and need that extra help. I have worked in a few schools in my past and with students who are behaviorally challenged, and wish their were more programs out their for students who don’t fit into the traditional school setting. I think the name Alternative school gives a false meaning to many people they view it as a negative thing.

    I found the research you collected very interesting and I enjoyed reading about your Volunteer work and you research.

    Are you going to continue to work in your site?
    What are your future goals for your career and education?

    Good Luck to you.


  4. I think this is an awesome topic! I have had friends who were failing classes and worried about graduating but had the same fortunate experience you did at CREATE. None of my friends went there specifically but still got great help at other alternative schools. In fact, one of my friends went to an alternative school as an adult to get her diploma and ended up meeting her husband there and they are happily married with 3 kids! I agree that it is a very important subject and I think it is awesome that you had such a great experience.

    I think your research is solid.. You have great evidence to argue for your side and I thought it was interesting that you had an article about alternative schools being a “dumping ground”. I also loved that there was a personal journal from a student. Personal stories really help to persuade because they tug on people’s heartstrings. I think it would benefit you too to have somebody proofread for to clean up some of the spelling and grammar. The letter was great though. I think approaching the Assistant Superintendent as a graduate from their school district is a great way to be persuasive. Having come from FGHS will only make it hit closer to home. I also think it was very wise to emphasize the staff’s credentials. They are obviously pros in what they do. Great job and good luck in the future!

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