The Weekly Newsletter of Educational Alternatives -
Groundbreaking Gathering In Colombia Connects us With South American Alternatives (Follow Up Story)

As I said in the last e news, on August 31st I returned from one of the most important gatherings I've ever participated in. As promised, here are the details of the conference.
Escuela Pedigogica Experimental
For six days I was at the
International Week of Alternative Education in Bogota, Colombia. There were more than a thousand participants from all over South America.  Of the invited core participants I was the only one from the United States,  the only native English speaker.  It reminds me of the time I went to the First New Schools Festival of the Soviet Union in August 1991, opening up dialog between the West and Eastern European educational alternatives for the first time. The last day I was at Yeltzin's White House. The next day,  by the time my return train reached England, Yeltzin had faced down the tank in the very place I had been standing, the coup collapsed, and there was no more Soviet Union.

Justo Mendez Aramburo of Neuesta Escuela in Puerto Rico
I did not go lightly to this event in Colombia. It was the first time I had flown anywhere since my heart attack. To me it was nothing short of the discovery of life in another world. There are amazing educational alternatives developing all over Latin and South America. For the most part we have not known about this here because of the language barrier. But they do know something about us. 

To get to the airport by 5 AM I was up at 3:30. The flight was on Avianca, the same Colombian airline that ran out of fuel and crashed on Long Island many years ago. We haven't forgotten. And I don't like to fly anyway. But the airline is actually quite modern and relatively comfortable. But I didn't get much sleep.

Two parent/teachers from Kalapoa, an AERO school in Bogota
My first experience on arrival in Colombia was sharing a ride to the conference with Ignasio, who founded a precedent-setting Montessori school in Chile. He spoke almost no English and I spoke almost no Spanish, but through sign language, gestures, a phone translator and videos we became good friends! Not long after arriving at the hotel I found myself blindly following him as we traveled in a taxi to find German (Hermann) Doin, the conference organizer. Bogota traffic is hair raising! One of the first things we saw was a motorcycle accident. By the way, its population is over 7 million, as big or bigger than New York City!

It wasn't until we arrived that I realized that we were going to a showing of a remarkable documentary at a local alternative college. It was of a program in Ecuador to save traumatized babies and either reunite them with retrained families or adoptive families. The maker of this beautiful film is an engineer who made it of his wife's dedicated work. At the end of the conference he gave me a copy of it.

German Doin, foreground
At the showing I got to meet German, the filmmaker of La Educación Prohibida,,The Prohibited Education, a film about educational alternatives that has galvanized South America. I had met him at the IDEC in Puerto Rico. It was by his invitation that I had come. He had convinced the Bogota Minister of Education to underwrite the conference.

Read the rest here including many more pictures, especially of Kalapa School.
Latest SAT Scores Continue Downward Trend, College Board Reports
By Caralee J. Adams

On average, high school graduates in the class of 2015 scored 1490 on the SAT, down from 1497 last year and the lowest performance since the 2,400-point scale was developed nearly a decade ago.

The College Board released the latest figures on Thursday showing achievement down from 2015 to 2014 in all three subjects-dropping from 497 to 495 in critical reading, 513 to 511 in mathematics, and 487 to 484 in writing. That's all on an 800-point scale.

"Small changes in mean scores in either direction really shouldn't be over-interpreted," Cyndie Schmeiser, the chief of assessment for the New York-based organization that administers the SAT, said in a phone interview.  

The bottom line in the results, maintained Schmeiser, is the percentage of students who are graduating high school ready for college-41.9 percent this year, according to the College Board's benchmark-a figure that hasn't increased in the past five years.

"I find the news disappointing, but unsurprising," said Scott Thomas, the dean of the school of educational studies at Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, Calif., in an email interview. Despite years of efforts to promote college and workforce readiness, there remains a great deal of variation in schools to help students prepare, and if inequity in resourcing does not match growth in testing, it would follow that scores would be flat to declining, he said.

"We aren't moving the needle on college readiness and that's exactly why we are redesigning the SAT," said Schmeiser.

Read the rest here.
Two openings Left for School Starters
AERO School: The Knowing Garden, Redondo Beach, CA

The AERO School Starter Course has two openings left, one because of an emergency withdrawal. If you register for the course today we'll honor your registration. 

A message from IDEC 2015 
"Greetings from Aotearoa/New Zealand, We have now released the video  of a very special presentation by Justo Mendez & Ana Yris from Puerto Rico recorded at IDEC 2015:

Nuestra Escuela - Mission of Love
How education plays a key role in a paradigm shift!
In their presentation Justo and Ana Yris introduce us to Nuestra Escuela, a school  based on a Mission of Love, which serves talented young people with painful life experiences who have left conventional schools.

Watch their presentation here. 

Nuestra Escuela gives them unconditional support to make their dreams and goals become their reality.

This the 2nd of 6 presentations which we are releasing over the next 8 weeks as part of our crowdfunding campaign for the support of IDEC 2015 and the development of a central online platform connecting the Democratic Education community around the world, sharing information, projects, activities, experiences, mapping schools and collaborating in the expansion of the Democratic Education movement!  

Watch our AWESOME crowdfunding video!!!

Yaacov Hecht Keynote Still Available. Enjoy!
Yaacov Hecht's presentation at IDEC 2015 is  also available  for you on our You Tube channel. Yaacov is the founder of IDEC (International Democratic Education Conference) which was first held in Israel 23 years ago.
At IDEC 2015 in NZ Yaacov presented the concept of Education City and 21st Century Learning,

Please support us, your contribution is really important! Click here and have a look at our campaign, join the movement and share this campaign with all you network!

With love and thanks from all of the NZ IDEC team."
Agile Learning Centers Shares FREE StarterKit and Launches New Membership Model for Startups
Agile Learning Centers has just released the first iteration of the ALC StarterKit -- a free resource for anyone looking to start a self-directed learning school, homeschool coop, camp, or related program.  Learn more and download the StarterKit here

In addition to the free StarterKit, ALC Membership is now available for just $95 for the first round of early adopters. ALC Membership geared towards new startup projects that are interested in collaborating with the ALC Network and gaining access to more resources. Memberships are annual and include:
  • A listing on the ALC Network Map
  • Access to advice and coaching from ALC experts in regularly scheduled "Office Hours" via Google Hangouts
  • Legal documents and other important forms (e.g. Bylaws, Medical Forms, Emergency Contact, Permission Slips, etc)
  • How-To Guides for automating technical and administrative tasks such as tuition billing and application forms
  • User account(s) on the ALC Network site for you, your team, and your students
  • A customizable website populated with initial content, forms, applications, tuition tools, and more
  • Early access to training events and collaborative Agile Learning Facilitator calls
  • For a limited time any new ALC Member will also get a free AERO membership! These two memberships offer an incredible amount of resources perfect for any new self-directed learning project.


NewsNews, Resources, & Calendar
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Thank you for your ongoing support. With your help, we will make learner-centered alternatives available to everyone!


Jerry Mintz
Executive Director
Alternative Education Resource Organization

tensignsThe Ten Signs You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child
Many parents don't realize that the education world has changed drastically since they were in school. Schools and class sizes used to be smaller, dropout rates lower, in-school violence almost unheard of, and teachers weren't terrified of showing affection to their students, or of discussing moral values. Of course, even then, school was far from perfect, but at least the teachers-and usually the principal-knew every student by name, something that is increasingly rare today.

Because our public school system has deteriorated considerably, many parents, teachers, and individuals have taken it upon themselves to create public and private alternatives to that system; and it is important for parents to know that they now have choices.

So how do you know that it's time to look for another educational approach for your child? Here are some of the signs:

1. Does your child say he or she hates school?

If so, something is probably wrong with the school. Children are natural learners, and when they're young, you can hardly stop them from learning. If your child says they hate school, listen to them.  

September 6th, 2015
In This Issue
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