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Abstract

Public education was intended to give students a broad perspective to prepare them for living in a complex, diverse society. This article will examine a relatively recent development in public education: alternative education programs (AEPs). Using Texas public schools as a case study, this article argues that AEPs defeat public education’s goal of exposing students to a diverse student body. This is because AEPs segregate at-risk students-- usually Latinos, African Americans, Native Americans, and poor Whites--from the rest of the student population. This article deals with disciplinary AEPS, also known as DAEPs. Part I of the article will explore the legislative intent behind the Texas Education Code’s DAEP provisions. Part II will describe the Code’s DAEP provisions and how they have been supplemented by individual school district codes. Part III will describe how schools can boost their scores on accountability tests through the use of DAEPs. Part IV will discuss the author’s quantitative data on DAEPs, emphasizing the race, gender, and reading ability of students placed in DAEPs. Part V will give a qualitative description of a typical DAEP. The article will conclude by arguing that individual school districts have criminalized low student achievement by sending students with academic problems to DAEPs designed for student criminals.

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