Fun Facts!
These facts were found in the primary text used at the California Alternative High School:
The United States has 53 states but the "flag has not yet been updated to reflect the addition of the last three states." What were these states? Hawaii, Alaska, and Puerto Rico.
World War II began in 1938 and ended in 1942.
There are two houses of Congress, the Senate and the House: "one is for Democrats and the other is for the Republicans, respectively."

The four branches of the United States federal government include the Administrative branch.
The Pilgrim was helped by the Native Americans.
Matemathics is the study of numbers.

Aristotale was the philosopher who taught people how to learn a skill.
In order, the five most intelligent animals besides humans are the chimpanzee, the gorilla, the orangutan, the baboon, and the monkey.
What percent of minorities are more likely to be robbed, raped, or killed compared to the "White race"? 14%.
Major legal problems from recent decades include:
  1960 - drugs babies
  1970 - swallowing gold fish / streaking
  1980 - babies having babies
  1990 - crack babies

Did the above shock you? Hopefully, the rest of this writeup will, too.

California Alternative High School
"You cannot learn unless you are willing to
listen to the educated, wise and successful
people, for there is no learning in ignorance
except destruction of self and society."

- from the CAHS Student Workbook and Information Booklet

California Alternative High School refers to a group of thirty unaccredited, for-profit private high schools in the United States. The schools are currently under investigation in California, Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana for improper business practices, and have been ordered to close their doors in California and Iowa.

The school provides a ten week course, which convenes one night a week for three hours, with a tuition cost of $600. Upon completion of the course, the students have a graduation ceremony and a certificate of completion is conferred upon them. However, these certificates are not equivalent to diplomas.

This all seems somewhat on the level, although a little odd, until you dig a bit deeper. The advertising and workbook distributed by the school makes the following three claims:

  • CAHS is legally constituted within the state of California and is so authorized to confer the high school diploma.
  • CAHS is recognized by state and federal governments and the United States Department of Education for students to participate in financial aid programs.
  • CAHS students are admitted at accredited colleges and universities.

All of these statements are extremely deceptive to the potential student. The first statement, if taken into pieces, is actually true: it does call itself a high school, it does confer a diploma (of sorts), and it is legally constituted in California as a for-profit corporation. However, these facts are ordered together to imply strongly that the degrees conferred are authorized by the state of California; they are not.

The second statement is similarly tricky. Anyone with an accredited high school diploma, regardless of whether they were involved with the California Alternative High School, is free to participate in financial aid programs put forth by the Department of Education. However, the statement implies strongly that participation in CAHS qualifies you for those programs; it does not.

As with the claims about financial aid, the third statement deftly makes no claim that CAHS's certificate makes such acceptance possible.

Where are we at this point? We have an organization conferring meaningless certificates on students after ten classroom sessions. Who exactly would be attending these classes? It shouldn't come as a surprise that the classroom attendees don't know what they are not getting.

You see, the school is found exclusively in locations where there is a large Hispanic population. The program distributes advertising exclusively to Hispanics who are lacking a high school education and who often have a limited understanding of English; thus, they read the advertising and believe that they will be receiving a high school diploma. In Iowa, for example, the school was active in the Council Bluffs area and recruited from the Marshalltown area, both of which are full of migrant labor from Mexico.

The program targets potential students in this area and confers worthless certificates on them after taking $600 from them. After taking the course, perhaps the students have at least gained some basic facts about the United States and other materials that will help them in obtaining a GED?

Unfortunately, this is not the case. The sole educational material provided to the students is a poorly manufactured fifty four page pamphlet which is mostly a series of questions to answer on random topics, from United States government to mathematics and philosophy. Many of the statements and questions in the essay are factually incorrect or contain terrible grammatic abominations; you can see ten examples of this at the top of this writeup. The classes largely revolved around students sitting in the room writing answers to the questions in their workbook, with a teacher walking around the room giving out answers (or strong hints) to those proving difficult for the students. At the end of the course, the instructor would collect the books and ensure that they were completed, after which the certificates would be conferred at the "graduation" ceremony.

This does not constitute an education; at best, it constitutes trivia study in which many facts are incorrect. Given the many incorrect pieces of data in the booklet and the haphazard method of instruction, it is likely that a student at the end of this course will be further away from acquiring a GED than when they started.

The California Alternative High School has perpetuated a targeted fraud on a specific population segment and has fleeced their money. What can be done about this? Directly, the state could force the operation out of business through unfair practice charges. However, what can be done in the long run about such schemes? As long as migrants with unequal educations are allowed to freely pass through borders and social programs on the other side do not take care of them, there will always be vampires out there who will take advantage of the downtrodden. Note that I am advocating neither solution to the issue; this is a large problem that needs to be dealt with with extreme care.

Sources for this writeup include advertisements and a workbook for the California Alternative High School, press releases from the Iowa Attorney General's office, and the article Unaccredited high school entangled in diploma dispute by John Scheibe and Michelle Klampe, Ventura County Star, July 18, 2004.

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