Effectively Teaching Disadvantaged Students Twenty-nine years ago, the department of education released A Nation at Risk; a report that pointed out the academic underachievement of the nation’s youth. Several outlined problems still exist today. Many argue that bullying, budget cuts, violence, and lazy teachers are preventing the nation from getting back “to the good old days.” However, it is important to note that “there has not been an era in the twentieth century where public schools satisfied the opinions of education reformers, parents, and citizenry.” (Ravitch, 2000, pg. 13) Universal approval has become even more difficult since schools have become responsible for educating students regardless of ethnic background, social status, language barriers, or learning deficiencies. The United States continues to search for a solution to narrow its achievement gap specifically for students of different racial and economic backgrounds. One of the proposed solutions has been to provide access to alternative education. Alternative education encompasses any type of educational practice that is not traditional. For example, homeschooling, charter schools, online education, and continuation schools, are all forms of alternative education. These options are appealing to many since the traditional education system continues to fail certain students. San Antonio High School (SAHS), located in Claremont, California, is one of the many alternative schools trying to educate youth that struggle within the current system.
Community Info San Antonio High School is located at the far southwest side of Claremont. The city of Claremont is a college town located on the eastern border of Los Angeles County. In 2010, there were 34, 926 residents in Claremont. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the majority of the population is White (72.1%) followed by Latinas/os (20.8%), Asians (11%), and Black residents (5.1%). Approximately 57% of the homes are worth between $500,000 and 1 million dollars; 6% of the homes are worth over a million dollars. Another 28% of the households are worth between $300,000 and $500,000.The average Claremont household size is 2.5, and the average income is $109, 315. Nearly a fourth of all residents (23.96%) are between the ages of 5-19. 19.2% of residents are over the age of 62. Within the pool of residents that were over the age of 25, 92.8% were high school graduates, 56% had a Bachelor’s degree or higher, and 29.8% had a graduate school or other professional degree; the percentage of people with undergraduate degrees was nearly twice as high as the national percentage (30.5%) and about three times higher than the percentage of Americans with graduate degrees (10.9%). In addition, Claremont is home to five undergraduate colleges and two graduate universities. 59.4% of the people in Claremont are in the labor force, and only 5.2% are unemployed. Of those that are employed in Claremont, the majority (39.9%) of them worked in educational, health, or social services. The next largest sectors of employment were professional, scientific, administrative, or waste management services (10%). These statistics are not representative of all of Claremont’s residents, specifically the majority of those attending San Antonio High School.
School Demographics San Antonio is a continuation school, meaning, students who are enrolled are over the age of sixteen, are not on track to graduate, or are not ready to move on to the next grade level due to an insufficient number of class credits. At the beginning of 2011-2012, the school had a total of 116 students enrolled. The school had 21 sophomores, 47 juniors, and 12 seniors in total. The student body’s largest ethnic group was Latinas/os (61.21%) followed by Caucasians (19.83%), African-Americans (12.93%), Asians (3.45%), American Indians/Alaskan Natives (0.86%), and