Play in Kindergarten! Shocking!
NEW Documentaries Announced
Yong Zhao, Keynote Speaker for the 2016 AERO Conference.
Zhao TEDx Talk
 Conference info here. Portland AERO Registration is only $225, but will rise soon. Workshop proposals now accepted here
Peter Gray will also keynote
See his TEDx talk here

Registration Rate Now $275 but New Temporary Rate for Low Income
There was a little outcry from some low income people who were concerned that we were raising the conference rate from $225 to $275 for the five day AERO conference to be held August 3-7 in Portland, OR. Some are still applying for or raising funds. We must raise the basic rate because of increased expenses this year. Of course it was easier to have the conference in our back yard on Long Island.
We did raise the rate to $275 , but for a limited time there will also be the option to register at the $225 rate if you are low income. And of course we still have the $500 patron rate for those who want to sponsor another attendee, half of which is tax deductible. Other rates: Volunteers and students can still register at the $200 rate. The Rate for children under 12 is $100, which includes child care.

Get more info or register here!

NEW Room Reservation Info
To reserve a room it is best to call the hotel toll free at 1 855 642 6271 Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 4 PM Pacific Time. Mention the AERO conference to get the $119 rate. Otherwise it is over $200! However you can now also go to this site which automatically brings you to the online booking page for the AERO conference with our special $119 a day rate. You can also just go to their booking page and type in AER which is our code. 

There are still good rooms available. It makes sense to reserve your room soon. You can cancel up to 48 hours before the conference. We already have three groups that are planning training programs that include the AERO conference, so we may start filling up fast. Let us know if you have a group you plan to bring so we can give you a group rate. 

We have negotiated something with the Holiday Inn Portland Airport which saves you even more money. There is no food package. So you can eat at the hotel restaurant, go out, or bring your own food. 
Workshops List and Application
The workshop list is nearly complete but we are still taking proposals. When the list is complete they will be on a waiting list or could be put into the daily schedule at the conference. You can see the workshops summarized here. You can apply to present a workshop here.

On the 3rd of August we plan to have school visits and trips. The main conference starts on the 4th. 
First Day Mini-Talk Form
We still have a form to submit a proposal for a 15 minute TED-like presentation on the first day of the AERO conference. These will be presented to all the conference participants. Some may be stand alone, but may also be introductions for people doing other workshops. Some will be eventually available on Youtube. To apply to do a mini-talk just click here
Patron Registration
As you know, AERO has always had a policy of working hard to find a way for low income people to participate in the conference. Sometimes we arrange volunteer slots, give fundraising advice, etc. Now, in addition, we are featuring a new patron registration, which allows people to register at a higher rate, half of which is tax deductible. Register as a patron  here. 

You can now reserve a vendor table  here. 
Documentaries at AERO Conference
Class Dismissed!
We have preliminary information that Jeremy Stuart, Producer/Director of the acclaimed documentary Class Dismissed, will return personally to the AERO conference in Portland to show and discuss it. It follows an unschooling family through its journeys. 

Paper Tigers
We will also be showing the new and widely praised documentary. 
"Paper Tigers captures the pain, the danger, the beauty, and the hopes of struggling teens-and the teachers armed with new science and fresh approaches that are changing their lives for the better."
We are hoping the film makers can come. 
Schools on Trial ! 2 New Goyal Videos
This week AERO author Nikhil Goyal's latest book,  Schools on Trial: How Freedom and Creativity Can Fix Our Educational Malpractice, was released by Doubleday. Hailed by Temple Grandin as a book that "will force you to think deeply about problems in today's schools," this is one I think you'll want to add to your library. Order a copy of Schools on Trial  here.

Nikhil's first bestseller One Size Does Not Fit All: A Student's Assessment of School, was recently given a fresh edit and new cover, and is as relevant today as it was when he wrote it at  only 17. As Howard Gardner said, "It's high time to learn the views and recommendations of a thoughtful young person." You can buy a print version for only $14.95 here and ebook version for only $9.99 here.  
You can watch two interviews with Goyal below.
Nikhil Goyal - Democratic Education
'Education Shmedumacation' - a Poem by Two High School Juniors 
Huong Le and Lilly Penick are both 17-year-0ld juniors who attend Gulf High School in New Port Richey, Florida, and participate in their school's International Baccalaureate program. They worked together on a writing assignment, composing a telling slam poem that expresses their view - and that of many other students - about the testing culture inside schools today.

Slam poetry expresses personal stories in an often emotional and moving style. A slam is a competition where authors read their poems and are judged on their work.

In an e-mail explaining how she and Huong Le came up with the topic for their poem, Lilly Penick wrote, "As students, we believe it is important to advocate for ourselves as we know that teachers have their hands tied concerning issues in the education system. We were inspired to write about this system after realizing the severity of the testing culture that is arising in today's schools and the effect that it is having on students and teachers everywhere."

Read the rest here.
In N.C. District, Leader Brings Play Back to Kindergarten
By  Lillian Mongeau 

It was a willful kindergarten pupil who gave Steve Oates a crash course in how to lead a school.

"A kindergartner came into my office, and he wouldn't sit down, so I said, 'You will sit down,' " recalls Oates, now the assistant superintendent for elementary administration in  North Carolina's Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district. "He took his arm and cleared everything off my desk."

On that day in 1994, Oates, a rookie principal, could have shouted or kicked the boy out of school. But instead of deciding the child was bad or a lost cause, Oates thought, "OK, I have to have a different approach."

Read the rest here.
Districts Experiment With Virtual 'Work From Home' Days for Students

A growing share of the U.S. labor force  works from home, and some tech-savvy school districts are taking note.

The local high school in this upscale suburb, for example, recently held its first "virtual day," allowing most of its 561 students to log in to school from the comfort of their bedrooms or kitchen tables.

"The main reason we're doing this is to prepare students for life after high school," said Principal Troy Lederman. "Almost every college has some type of online or virtual course, and a lot of companies now tell employees they can work remotely, so we are exposing students to that."

Read the rest here.
KIPP School Response
We received quite a few comments about our KIPP story last week. We also received the following note from David Gribble on the article about English "free schools." David was the founder of the Sands School, a democratic school in Devon, England.
Richard Garner has failed to point out a major defect in the conservative free schools policy. The schools are free only in the sense that they are no longer responsible to the local authority. Any innovations they want to make have to be approved by the Department for Education, which when Michael Gove was Minister for Education meant him. I do not know of any so-called free school that actually allows freedom for its students. -  David Gribble

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

In Service,

Jerry Mintz
Executive Director
Alternative Education Resource Organization

Please consider making a donation to AERO to help support our work. Thanks!