Unschool pioneer Dayna Martin's Theme
See the Letter from Two of our Presenters

The AERO conference is an annual gathering of cutting edge, innovative educators. It involves administrators, teachers, parents and students who are interested in and support the idea of learner-centered education, rather than a one-size-fits-all system. Attendees come from a spectrum of alternatives, including home schools, as well as others from the mainstream who are interested in learning about those approaches. 

 If you have questions, suggestions, have a group or need a special rate, reply to thIs e news or call our office at 516 621 2195

Register now here
Great News! Continuing Education Credit AND Graduate Credit from Antioch University for AERO Conference!!!
Antioch University is not only able to award free Continuing Education credits but for a modest fee and some evaluation work they can also grant up to three graduate credits. The conference will go for four days, so up to 30 contact hours are possible! 

Contact us ASAP if you are interested in taking advantage of either or both!
Note from Jonathan Kozol
Jonathan Kozol sent us a note that he would be speaking about "hyper segregation and inequality -- and on the corporate invasion of our public schools and the mania of testing, which is undermining child-centered learning."
Keynoter Dayna Martin's Theme
Unschool pioneer and author Dayna Martin writes, " I will speak about educational freedom and how to facilitate learning, based on what a child loves and is passionate about. I will share how learning never ends and that the role of child-centered education is very involved, hands-on and not neglectful or disengaged. I'll also discuss partnership-based parenting and how a solid foundation of connection and trust is beneficial for living and learning together as a family, and why."

Letters From Two Of Our Presenters
Hi, I'm Carol Nash, one of the founders of Alpha II Alternative School, a public democratic school in Toronto, Canada for young people ages 12 to 20 to self-direct their learning in relation to what they personally value in a community based on consensus where each person's voice counts in developing that consensus.   Alpha II was founded the first year our family was part of its sister school ALPHA Alternative School, an elementary school based on articles 26.2 and 26.3 of the declaration of human rights:
2.     Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

3.     Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
As a co-founder of an alternative school, I first became aware of the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) through the teachers at ALPHA.   They let me know that membership to AERO, and attending the yearly conference would be invaluable to helping to found Alpha II.   I joined AERO in 2007 and participated in the online discussions for the first few years until our family had enough money for me to attend the conference at Long Island University in New York.   In those years when we had to be very careful about our finances, what was attractive about the AERO conference was its low cost and that the stay in the residence at LIU was included in the cost.   This is still true of today's conference.
After the first year of attending as a participant, I became a yearly presenter at AERO.   What was important to me changing my status at the conference was that I now had an appointment in History of Medicine at the University of Toronto.   Since 2012, this has involved facilitating a weekly group that helps people take the stories of why they do health-related research and, with the equal help of all members of the group, develop their stories into narratives with a particular point of view to help sustain their research throughout their careers.   Since developing narratives can be seen as an important basis to self-directed learning in communities based on consensus, I see my work as an extension of why I helped to found Alpha II Alternative School and why I see this same work as relevant at the AERO conference.   
Over the years at the AERO conference, I have endeavoured in my workshops to provide participants with tools and techniques for developing their narratives related to education.   I have heard from participants that these tools and techniques have been very useful to them as founders of other self-directed schools and programs.   This year, I plan to use my own narrative for why I helped co-found Alpha II to help members of my workshop develop similar narratives related to why they want to found their schools or programs.
The AERO conference is the only place I know of in North America where people throughout the world who have, or want to, found democratic, self-directed learning opportunities can meet to discuss what it is like to be a founder and how we can proceed to encourage democratic, self-directed learning for all young people.  
If you see yourself as part of developing democratic, self-directed learning for all young people, I suggest you join me at the next AERO conference at Long Island University in New York from the evening of August 2 to the afternoon of August 6.
I look forward to seeing you at the AERO conference!

From Presenter Aaron Eden

"School as we have inherited it is actually reducing human capacity. Come to the AERO conference to explore and share ways to augment instead of reduce human potential. Do it for a sustainable future."

-Aaron Eden, Co-founder and Principal of the  Eliad Group

AERO Conference: What Choice is and What it Isn't
It certainly can be argued that AERO is the most important network of educational alternatives in the United States. Actually we don't have much competition. Most other networks are for a particular kind of alternative: Montessori, Waldorf, Charter, Magnet, Progressive, Democratic, Homeschool and Unschool. But we feel that their commonality is that they are learner-centered in approach. Furthermore. we think that the only way to spreat the learner-centered approach and the right to choose such approaches is if these alternatives work together. 

So is AERO the most important "choice" network? Well, maybe not. It depends what you mean by choice and who is doing the choosing. For example, just giving parents the funds in a voucher so they can chose between different types of traditional, top-down approaches is not really "choice" to us. we feel that parents and students have the right to be empowered, to make choices in their own lives. 

United States Secretary of Education DeVos may support learner-centered education. We don't know yet. Maybe she hasn't really seen it. We think it can manifest in many forms, including regular public schools. We recently saw in Israel that regular public schools can be democratic schools. 

So it's a whole new ballgame. That's why this is the year that we hope everyone in our network will support the work we do, and as many as possible will come to the AERO conference in August. We are at a very important juncture and we want to be heard. We want student voices to be heard. 
Some Fun Activities that are Planned for the AERO Conference
We have a lot of fun activities and events that are planned for this year's AERO Conference, August 3-6. These include:


  • The cruise around Manhattan on August 2nd. Please contact us to be put on the list. 
  • Virtual reality demo TBA
  • Minecraft server
  • Alternative Schools Fair (let us know if you want a free table for your school)
  • AERO Bookstore: Get ready for some book signings, new releases, etc. Authors, bring books for the bookstore.
  • Student essay or presentation contest: Winners get free admission to AERO Conference. Details TBA but contact us if interested. 
  • Networking events
  • Adler Yang's documentary with others TBA. 
  • Post Campus 40 acre arboretum 
New Documentary "If There Is A Reason To Study" To Be Shown At The AERO Conference!
We're very pleased to announce that Adler Yang, graduate of AERO member school Humanity Explorational High School in Taiwan, will be coming from there to the AERO conference to present his award winning documentary, "If There is a Reason to Study." He will be coming via a film festival featuring his film at Stanford. Adler and his team, then 14-16, helped with AERO's 2012 conference in Portland. They were the ones that helped film Sir Ken Robinson at that conference. 


From Wikipedia:

Adler Yang

These are Some of the Conference Features We'll Be Writing about!

Topics we'll be writing about:
  • Minitalk speakers 
  • Continuing Education  Credits and graduate credits (see above)
  • Minecraft server
  • The main strands for the conference
  • The cruise around Manhattan
  • Planned exhibitor tables
  • More workshop announcements
Past attendees know that there is no other conference like AERO's. The most important part of the conference, in my opinion, is the networking. Countless schools, education centers, homeschool resource centers and other initiatives have been birthed at AERO conferences. Attendees include teachers, administrators, parents, students, alternative educators and traditional educators who want to know more about learner-centered education. People leave transformed, recharged!

Of course the keynotes are important. This year's keynoters include author and unschooling expert Dayna Martin, education critic, author and legend John Gatto, MET Schools founder Dennis Litsky, Author of How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen Joanna Faber, and famed writer, speaker and education critic Jonathan Kozol.  There will also be a first day of TED-like mini talks. 

Equally important will be the more that 40 workshops, presentations, and interactive activities. We've already posted 25 of them. Several others are in process.

You can see all the posted and approved workshops and bios

You can register for the AERO conference art the current rate or even hold your place at the current rate HERE!

Some people have been a little confused about the various ways you can register for the conference, so here's a recap:
The regular rate is $275. 
The regular student rate is still $175
The presenter/volunteer rate is also $175
The child/childcare rate is $100 for the conference. 
The exhibitor table rate is $400. 
The low income rate is $225 (you decide). 

If more that 6 are coming from your group, e mail us to arrange a special rate. 

There is still no required food package! You can eat at the cafeteria at college rates, go out to eat, or even bring your own food!

If you have any specific questions you can e mail us by just replying to this e newsletter or call 516 621 2195. 

Here is a link to the AERO Conference Flyer. Please help us spread the word. If you do plan to attend and haven't registered yet it would be a GREAT help to us and our planning if you could let us know. 


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!