The Promise and Peril of School Vouchers
Contact us MONDAY, May 22 for Group Arrangements, Scholarship Help and Volunteer work (see Announcement Below)

Several Alternative School Jobs Available
The jobs section is one of the most visited sections of the AERO website. Lately several great schools and programs have contacted us, looking for teachers who really understand learner-centered approaches. These include such geographically diverse programs as Pono in Manhattan, Little River School in upstate New York, Kalapa in Colombia and Los Ninos del Mango in Southern Spain
The Promise And Peril Of School Vouchers
From NPR ed

 Wendy Robinson wants to make one thing very clear.

As the long-serving superintendent of Fort Wayne public schools, Indiana's largest district, she is not afraid of competition from private schools.

"We've been talking choice in this community and in this school system for almost 40 years," Robinson says. Her downtown office sits in the shadow of the city's grand, Civil War-era Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. In Fort Wayne, a parking lot is the only thing that separates the beating heart of Catholic life from the brains of the city's public schools.

In fact, steeples dominate the skyline of the so-called  City of Churches. Fort Wayne has long been a vibrant religious hub, home to more than 350 churches, many of which also run their own schools.

While the city's public and private schools managed, for decades, to co-exist amicably, that changed in 2011, Robinson says. That's when state lawmakers began the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, a plan to allow low-income students to use vouchers, paid for with public school dollars, to attend private, generally religious schools.

Six years later, Indiana's statewide voucher program is now the  largest of its kind in the country and, with President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos openly encouraging states to embrace private school choice, the story of the Choice Scholarship - how it came to be, how it works and whom it serves - has become a national story of freedom, faith, poverty and politics.

Read the rest here.
AltSchool Raises $40 Million; Revolution Prep Raises $4 Million
From EdWeek
Ed: There is an AltSchool in Brooklyn but we have not been able to arrange a visit. We wonder what experiences or readers have had with it. 

AltSchool Raises $40 Million:  AltSchool has raised $40 million of an $80 million funding round, according to  an SEC filing; the news was first reported by  Axios.

Last month, the Bay Area ed-tech company, which offers a network of lab schools, said in  a statement that five senior leaders in education and technology have joined its executive team "to bring its personalized learning platform to schools nationwide."

For the past four years, AltSchool's team of educators, engineers, and researchers has been building and testing the platform in its network of lab schools, the company said, adding that it is "bringing in key public and charter school veterans, including one of California's most lauded superintendents, to accelerate R&D and begin offering the platform to the broader education community," the company said in the statement. Devin Vodicka, who as leader of Vista Unified School District has twice been named California's superintendent of the year, is AltSchool's new chief impact officer.  (Education Week interviewed Vodicka when his move was announced last month.) 
Democratic School Wins Approval
I an Cunningham's remarkable democratic program for students age 11 and up, an AERO member, was inspected by the English education office with a remarkable result!

By Ian Cunningham

One morning last October we had an impromptu visit from two Ofsted inspectors at Self Managed Learning College, Brighton. The lead inspector spent some time quizzing most of the students on an individual basis. He asked about what they did and how the college ran including the times which they attended.

The Chair of Governors in the College, Dr Ian Cunningham, explained to the inspectors that the College did not have an imposed curriculum, it had no classrooms or formal lessons, no timetable, nor any other of the arrangements found in school. After the lead inspector had spoken to students he commented to Dr Cunningham that the College in reality had a very broad curriculum in that its students were learning an extremely wide range of things. He clearly seemed impressed with what the students were doing.

After a couple of hours the two inspectors had a meeting to discuss what they had found. This took 10 minutes. After this they indicated that they would be reporting back to the Department for Education to say that the College is not a school. Just recently Dr Cunningham received the formal letter from the Department confirming the visit and the report from the inspectors. They have agreed that it is not a school and therefore does not need to register with them.

Read the rest here.
Authoritarian Schooling: A Catalogue of Damage Compiled by David Gribble
Click the link below for 43 sites compiled by David Gribble: Authoritarian Schooling: A Catalogue of Damage 

Below is an example of one of them.

By David Gribble

In 1973 in Conisbrough, a mining village in Yorkshire, there was an interesting experiment. The school-leaving age in Britain had been raised from fifteen to sixteen, and an arrangement was made to look after a group of fifteen boys from the local secondary school who were thought to be among the least likely to gain anything from an extra year at school.

The experiment was based in a building called The Terrace, some way away from the school itself. It is described in detail in Pat Kitto's book, Dartington in Conisbrough, where Ken Hosey, one of the staff members, gives this account of his first impression of the boys.

Read the rest here.
NYC Shakespearian Production by 17 Year-old Director, Homeschooler and Former Free School Student
Ed: The following is an announcement of a New York City production directed by a 17 year old who first started directing his own productions as a student at Manhattan Free School, new called Agile Learning Center. 

Romeo + Juliet, directed by  Leo Lion, is an exploration of age and generational dynamics, the teenage struggle for independence and affirmation, and the difficulty of communication across generations.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story of all time - but who is it really about? Firebird's answer is: "It's about teenagers." Grounding their production in the evocative themes of youth and growth, FYT is pulling age to the foreground with a mixed-age cast of adults and teens. This intergenerational, present-day take on the Elizabethan classic is tailored to resonate with modern teenagers and make the trials of the play's young heroes hit close to home for the new generation.

Get more information here.
Click Below for the Latest AERO Conference Announcements
As promised, on Thursday we released a special e news with new AERO conference information, including a new mini-talk presenter, special features like virtual reality demos, etc. This will save some space in the regular e news. We new have people registered from 20 states and 4 countries. To see that issue,  click here.

We're still fleshing out the schedule but t entatively Dayna Martin will speak Thursday evening, Dennis Littky will Speak Friday, Jonathan Kozol will speak Saturday and John Gatto's presentation will be Sunday. 

We do want everyone to see the announcement below:

On Monday, May 22nd we would like all people interested in special group rates, scholarship help or volunteering for the AERO conference to e mail us about this if you can, to or call our office at 516 621 2195. You can also call our office at 800 769 4171. If you e mail you can do so today or tomorrow. But please make calls on Monday. We'll either talk to you then or schedule a time for you later in the day. 

After Monday we can't promise we'll be able to make special arrangements. So even if your situation is not finalized, please contact us to get the ball rolling. 
Open Schools, Closed Minds: The Progressive Bias Against Charter Schools
From WBUR, Boston's NPR News Station

Rich Barlow

Opposition to charter schools is to the left what climate change denial is to the right, a fortress of unreason that shields ideology from contrary evidence. Everywhere, including in Massachusetts, home to some of the nation's best charters, anti-charter zealots always, always have a "yes, but --" response for every study suggesting disadvantaged students benefit from these schools.

Charters are public schools, minus certain regulations and union rules. Yes, but they bleed money from cash-starved traditional schools. Actually,  in Massachusetts, charters educate 4 percent of public school students and get 4 percent of public school funding. Yes, but they select only top students and weed out the bad apples. When The New York Times's David Leonhardt put a fork in that turkey,  pointing out that many charters take students via lottery, one reader responded yes, but they're still selective, since charter students' parents are proactive enough to enter the lottery. (Yes, and some parents are proactive enough to make their kids eat right and exercise, but no one grouses about vegetable farms or playgrounds.)

The mirror image of these critics on the pro-charter side is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, a school choice fanatic who supports not just charter schools but also the more dubious strategy of vouchers. Two new studies throw a wrench into the worldviews of zanies in both camps. Massachusetts lawmakers, who are considering a bill to make some schools more charter-like, should pay heed.

Read the rest here.

Links and Calendar
Please send us feedback on this issue. also, we would like to have more articles written by AERO members and about AERO school and organizations.  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!