Alternative education has been an integral part of public education in the United States since the 1830s; however, alternative education became a widespread movement across the country during the 1960s to 1970s. Fueled by the social discontent of the populace and the marginalization of many of U.S. youth, advocates of alternatives to the traditional public school structure became more vocal and more socially and politically active. Today, alternative education and alternative schools are a significant part of public education.

Much of the philosophy behind alternative education can be traced back to Jean-Jacques Rousseau who believed education should parallel a child's growth not society's need, and to the progressive era of education where people like John Dewey and Francis Parker thought children's education should serve their needs ...

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