The headquarters of Alcove Self-Directed Learning looks like any small home in the largely Latino Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles. This self-directed learning center for teens and tweens allows young people to direct their own education. It is part of an expanding ecosystem of alternative educational models throughout the U.S. focused on individualized learning, according to a report by the LA School Report and The74.
Alcove was co-founded in January 2020 by Alexis Burgess, a former philosophy professor who turned his attention to alternative education.
At Alcove and other Liberated Learner-affiliated microschools across the country, young people attend optional classes throughout the week, choosing from part-time and full-time enrollment offerings. Most Alcove learners are legally considered homeschoolers, although some students enrolled in California virtual charter schools also attend Alcove as a complement to their learning programs.
Alcove uses a “pay-what-you-can” tuition model, with some families paying nothing while others pay the full $1,600 monthly rate. The average Alcove family pays between $500 and $600 a month.
“There is no set curriculum,” Burgess said. “You can pursue your strengths at Alcove. You can pursue your weaknesses or growth areas. You can do whatever it is that you feel like doing. We’re going to make it up as we go along every semester.”
Class offerings this semester include math, French, political science, magic, psychology, debate, art, and more. It’s “education as improv,” Burgess said.
With the expansion of school choice policies enabling education funding to go directly to families rather than school systems, self-directed schooling alternatives are poised for further growth. Nine states have adopted universal school choice programs, including Arizona, Florida, Utah, and West Virginia, which have implemented flexible education savings account programs that include schooling alternatives like Alcove.
LA School Report / The74