School Starters Course New Open
A Student's Story of a Boarding Democratic School

Click Below for the Latest AERO Conference Announcements
Just 2 months to go for the AERO Conference!
We released the second AERO Conference Special e news last Wednesday, featuring messages by keynoters Jonathan Kozol and Dayna Martin as well as two by presenters. We also announced that there will be Continuing Education certificates for this conference as well as the possibility of graduate credit through Antioch University!  To see that issue, click here

We can still talk to people looking for special conference arrangements. E mail or call our office at 516 621 2195. You can also call our office at 800 769 4171.

You can register now here.
New 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 Jefferson County Open School in Colorado, Prairie Green in Iowa, Pono in Manhattan, Little River School in upstate New York, Kalapa in Colombia and Los Ninos del Mango in Southern Spain
2017 School Starter Course  Now Open
Earlybird Rate for a Week
Because we have had an us usual amount of interest in this year's School Starters Online Course we have opened it early with an earlybird rate just for this week. Reply to this e news if you have specific questions. 

There will also be a school starter thread at this year's AERO Conference
The Reigning Paradigm in Public Education: Part 1
By Judy Yero

We've briefly reviewed the  historical purposes of compulsory education, specifically in the United States. We've seen that the purpose of education has typically included enculturation, as well as creating ethical, knowledgeable citizens who, it is assumed, will contribute to society. In democracies, people have been educated to achieve an informed electorate. Since the Industrial Revolution, the stated purpose of education in the U.S. has focused more on "producing" citizens who will contribute to the economy-as workers and consumers.

Once we have a purpose or goal, the next step is to choose the actions we will take to achieve that goal. So the next logical topic to discuss, at least in the United States, is the current structure and organization of public education-the mechanism by which students are expected to reach the stated goals. What is the reigning paradigm in American public education?

A paradigm is a framework of concepts, results, and procedures within which work in a field is structured. It's important to understand that paradigms are not found "out there." A paradigm is not a neat package of factual ideas that have been tested and found effective. On the contrary, a paradigm is a model or pattern of thinking based on the prevailing beliefs of the times. Perhaps the most often-used example of opposing paradigms is the geocentric (earth-centered) model of the universe and the heliocentric (sun-centered) model proposed by Copernicus and supported by Galileo.

Read the rest here.
Example of an AERO Regional Event
The following is a description of an AERO regional event. There have been others in Massachusetts, Buffalo, New York, New Hampshire and San Jose, CA with others in the process of organization. Contact the AERO office if you want to organize one. 

By Peter Berg

A collaboration between Woodland Community School and  AERO brought together a group of youth and adults at the Colonial Theater in Bethlehem, New Hampshire to view the film  Screenagers , engage in discussion groups afterwards and listen to a keynote talk by Peter Berg who represented AERO.

The night began with participants arriving and being warmly greeted by Woodland Community School's Director, Jenny Johnson and others members of the Woodland community. As guests arrived they were treated to food, drinks, and small group conversations.

After folks had a chance to settle in Jenny brought the group together gave an introduction to the event and spoke a bit about learner-driven education. Jenny then handed to the mic to Peter Berg for his keynote talk on teen health and happiness.

Peter's talk focused on how the theme of the film connected with teen health and happiness. After the talk, a participant asked his thoughts on parents using technology to track their teen's whereabouts.

He responded that teenagers need to have freedom and need to trusted and that they need to be allowed to make decisions.

"Most teens have spent their life having decisions made for them, and about them then miraculously when they turn 18 they're expected to know how to make decisions and to always make the right ones, even though many adults can't do that."

The night continued with the viewing of the film and small group discussions afterward. There was some time for folks to talk to some of the vendors at the event and to shop at the AERO bookstore.

The small group discussions centered around key questions prepared ahead of time progressing in a natural direction for each group. Folks came away from the evening ready to advocate for learning that honors the fundamental idea of humans as natural learners.

Local AERO events like this are important in bringing the work of AERO and learning environments like Woodland Community School to a larger and varied audience.

This event and ones like it have inspired many to start schools or learning centers or to host local AERO events. The Woodland - AERO collaboration was born out of the AEROx event, as was the making of the necessary connections in order to start a learning center ala Northstar

The event was a great success and there is sure to be future collaboration between Woodland Community School and AERO. If you are interested in learning more about this event or hosting a local AERO events please contact Peter Berg at -
 or Jerry Mintz at -

ED: There are not many boarding democratic schools in the world. Summerhill in England, founded in 1921, is one of the oldest. It's very clear the students in boarding democratic schools get experiences not possible in day schools. The book, After Summerhill, tells some of their life stories. The Highland School, in Highland West Virginia, is perhaps the only boarding democratic school in the USA. 


I came to The Highland School at ten years old. I first went to a Sudbury school in Berlin, Germany which I enjoyed but found something lacking. My mother heard about a democratic boarding school in WV, from a staff member at my Sudbury school. After a year of thinking, wanting to be more independent, I applied and was accepted. Once I was there, I fell in love with it, and with that, my dorm life started.

I have been in the dorm for seven years now. Life in the dorm has changed over my time depending on the people who are in it. When I first came, there were four other students in the dorm and two staff. Over the years we've had differing ratios of boys to girls; some kids stayed for years, others for a semester, and many came from different countries. Our rules changed with them, and also our ways of doing things. Some rules we keep and others we change based on our experience. We make those changes democratically in our meetings.

Read the rest here.
 Gribble Files: John Gatto: Seven Wrong Lessons!
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.

(John Gatto will be a presenter at this year's AERO Conference)

By David Gribble

Seven Wrong Lessons

John Taylor Gatto was employed to teach English language and English literature in the city of New York for twenty-six years and was twice named New York State Teacher of the Year before he realised that rather than teaching English he had been teaching seven other subjects. These were confusion, class position, indifference, emotional dependency, intellectual dependency, provisional self-esteem and the impossibility of hiding. He left the world of conventional education and devoted himself to writing and lecturing about the way education ought to be.

Confusion is taught by the constant switching between one subject and another without any logical reason for doing so, and without giving time for any one topic to be satisfactorily digested. Class position is an attempt to encourage effort by competition, while at the same time making sure that every child knows his place at the place where someone else has put him. Indifference is taught by the use of bells: no matter how enthusiastic you are during a lesson, as soon as the bell goes everything must be dropped. 'The lesson of bells,' says Gatto, 'is that no work is worth finishing, so why care too deeply about anything?'

Read the rest here.
14 Year-Old Child Prodigy Carson Huey-You Earns Bachelor's Degree in Quantum Physics


This graduation season, among all the success stories of valedictorians graduating at the top of their classes and college bound high school seniors who were accepted into all of the Ivy League schools of their choosing, one story in particular caught our attention. 

Last week, we learned that young Carson Huey-You graduated from Texas Christian University this spring with a bachelor's degree in quantum physics. Remarkably, he's only 14 years old, and has achieved his goal of earning the degree in four years, a feat by most measures.   

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!