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City education policy advisors and school district officials explore Alternative High School options.

Mayors' education policy advisors and school district partners from four cities are seeking new ways to meet the challenges of high school reform and strategies for replicating effective alternative high school models.

Senior officials from Boston, Camden, N.J., Denver, and St. Louis, Mo., shared their perspectives at the Alternative High School Initiative (AHSI) conference in October in Cambridge, Mass. The panelists discussed alternative high school models and partnership opportunities between cities and school districts.

The panel suggested that in order to foster successful partnerships around education, cities and school districts should encourage public engagement within the community and include youth in decisions about education. Both city and school district partners should also develop a set of measurable outcomes and use data as a guide for action.

In addition, conference attendees and panelists examined the conditions in cities and school districts that are necessary to generate and sustain more alternative high schools across the country.

These conditions include brokering partnerships with businesses, sharing use and access of facilities and a working relationship between the mayor and superintendent.

The AHSI Network

Conference participants included members of the Alternative High School Initiative.

The AHSI network supports the collaboration of organizations working with local communities to generate and sustain safe, top quality high schools for vulnerable youth.

Together these organizations present families, districts and policy stakeholders with a portfolio of small, alternative high school options.

The schools are student-centered and strive to have youth voice, project-based learning and leadership development drive the learning process.

This initiative, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, was launched in 2003 by The Big Picture Company in response to the growing national trend of diminishing graduation rates affecting low-income African American and Latino youth.

NLC's Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute) works closely with The Big Picture Company and AHSI network members to develop strategies for youth development organizations to enter into partnerships with cities.

Details: For information about AHSI, visit To learn more about the YEF Institute's efforts on alternative high school options, contact Lucinda Stickney at 202-626-3144 or

About the Alternative High School Initiative

The Alternative High School Initiative (AHSI) is a network of youth development organizations committed to creating educational opportunities for young people for whom traditional school settings have not been successful.

AHSI member organizations include The Big Picture Company, NLC, Black Alliance for Educational Options, Communities in Schools Georgia, Commonwealth Corporation/ Diploma Plus, EdVisions, Gateway to College, National Association of Street Schools, SeeForever Maya Angelou and YouthBuild USA.

NLC collaborates with the network as a liaison between network schools and municipal leaders in helping lead the network's growth.
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Author:Stickney, Lucinda M.
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 19, 2005
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Next Article:National City Afterschool Summit to highlight vital municipal role.

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