Stuart Grauer Announced as Keynoter
John Merrow Retires
Yong Zhao, Keynote Speaker for the 2016 AERO Conference.
Zhao TEDx Talk
 Conference info here. Portland AERO Registration is only $275, but will rise soon. Workshop proposals now accepted here
Peter Gray will also keynote
See his TEDx talk here
Stuart Grauer
Founder of the Grauer School
Author of Fearless Teaching
See one of his videos here

Why We Need You to Register Now
You might have been wondering why we're trying to fill the AERO Conference now when it it isn't until August 3-7 in Portland, OR. This year AERO staff will be participating in the International Democratic Education Conference in June so we'll need to know very shortly how many attendees we'll have. July is too late for most of our non-local attendees who need to arrange flights, hotel, etc. AERO attendees are mostly not local and come from nearly every state and many countries. In order to know whether we can offer such things as pre-conference excursions as we did last time, more workshops and keynoters and special events we need to know what our numbers will be. This is one reason we've kept the deposit option so long. The discounted special and sweepstakes announced Thursday end tomorrow. Read about them here. 

If you are planning to attend but haven't registered yet, please do now or at least use the deposit option. It will help us greatly. If you can't register now or have a group, special need or want to volunteer, please contact us by replying to this e news. 

You can register this week for the 5 day AERO conference for  $275 , and you also have the option to register at the $225 rate if you are low income . This will end without warning as the conference gets more full. 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. Contact us directly for special group rates. 

Get more info or register here!
A Democratic Catholic School on 60 Minutes
By   Vicki Hyman

"60 Minutes" correspondent Scott Pelley on Sunday takes viewers inside  St. Benedict's Preperatory School  in Newark, the Catholic prep school whose motto is "Whatever hurts my brother hurts me."

The school is run by headmaster Fr. Edwin Leahy, but he says much of the decision-making rests with the students themselves, a tactic designed to empower the mostly black and Hispanic student body. "It's a population that never gets to have control," Leahy tells Pelley, who visited St. Benedict's over its 11-month school year. "That's a better learning experience for them ... The rule typically is if you're going to make a decision without adult advice, you had better be right." 

St. Benedict's success - the school has a 98 percent graduation rate, and 85 percent earn college degrees - was also the subject of  a 2013 documentary called "The Rule," the 72-chapter philosophy written in the 6th century by St. Benedict of Nursia that emphasizes helping others.

The "60 Minutes" segment features student Andrew Brice, a former foster child who was living on the streets when he snuck into school's natatorium one day and told the water polo coach that he needed help. Brice is now a junior, living at the monastery next to the school and studying to be a dancer. "He's not a quitter," says Bruce Davis, St. Benedict's senior group leader, about Brice. "And that's another motto. Benedict's hates a quitter." 

Read the rest here.
How to Grow a School on Sale Now! Only $5
This week, on the  e-book section of our bookstore we are offering on sale for the first time the e-book of Chris Mercogliano's How to Grow a School!

That's only $5, a third of the print book cost and and half the e-book price.  

Buy the E-Book here .
How Finland Broke Every Rule - and Created A Top School System
By William Doyle

Spend five minutes in Jussi Hietava's fourth-grade math class in remote, rural Finland, and you may learn all you need to know about education reform - if you want results, try doing the opposite of what American "education reformers" think we should do in classrooms.

Instead of control, competition, stress, standardized testing, screen-based schools and loosened teacher qualifications, try warmth, collaboration, and highly professionalized, teacher-led encouragement and assessment.

At the University of Eastern Finland's Normaalikoulu teacher training school in Joensuu, Finland, you can see  Hietava's students enjoying the cutting-edge concept of "personalized learning."

Read the rest here.
IDEC Crowdfunding Campaign Needs Support Now!
The IDEC Crowdfunding campaign is still going slowly. Unless it picks up or we find other funding sources it looks like many from developing countries won't be able to participate. They need much more, and soon, to be able to bring them to the gathering. Getting visas is not easy. But their involvement in the IDEC is often crucial in the survival and recognition of these brave schools, such as the Stork Family School in Ukraine and the Sri Aurobindo Ashram/orphanage in Nepal. I know there are people out there who can help. After all, we did raise $10,000 to help the Ashram after the earthquake. --Jerry

In 1993 the inaugural meeting of what became the International Democratic Education Conference was held in Israel. Since then there has been a meeting of the IDEC virtually every year to nurture the fledgling movement. They have met, in England, Austria, Ukraine, Japan, New Zealand, United States, India, Germany, Australia, Canada, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Korea. These meetings have sometimes been important for the development of democratic education in the places where they were held. There are now more that 200 democratic schools in the world and the number is beginning to grow fast.

Read the rest here

Go to the IDEC Crowdfunding Campaign HERE
The Biggest Regret From A 41-Year Career In Education Reporting (and a lot more)
I've known educational documentarian John Merrow for many years. He just retired. These are his thoughts on retirement. JM

By James Harvey.

By the time he retired last October, John Merrow had had a 41-year bird's eye view of American schools as a journalist with NPR and PBS NewsHour. Armed with a doctorate in education from Harvard, he'd served as a critical school friend throughout his career, pointing out the flaws in the thinking of defenders and critics of public education alike.

In just a single example of his doggedness in pursuing a story, Merrow once spent six years following superintendent David Hornbeck around Philadelphia for the raw material on a documentary about life as an urban school superintendent, titled, appropriately enough, "The Toughest Job in America." Merrow, who founded the production company, Learning Matters and won numerous awards in journalism including Emmy nominations, prestigious Peabody Awards, and the Harold W. McGraw Prize in Education, was once hailed by Jim Lehrer, former host of PBS NewsHour, as "quite simply, the leading education journalist in America."

Read the rest here.
Featured AERO Conference 2016 Workshop!
Jamming: The Art of Co-Creating Beloved Learning Communities -  Shilpa Jain
Participants would get to experience a little taste of a Jam - the practices and principles for co-creating beloved learning communities. There would time to also explore how the key principles of Jamming can be applied to many different kinds of learning communities, particularly for increasing self-awareness, building bridges across historic divides, and coming out with visions and actions of the world we want to see everywhere we go.

Find out more or sign up to participate in the JAM and the AERO Conference here. 

You can read Shilpa Jain's biography here.

You can see a list of workshops for this year's conference here.

You can register for the AERO Conference here.
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!