The Weekly Newsletter of Educational Alternatives -
AERO Conference Starts Wednesday!
The AERO conference starts Wednesday, in three days!! The attendee badges and programs are printed. 


If you still want to attend the AERO Conference but need individual help or have a special situation please e mail  to let us know and we will do our best to help you. Or you can just reply to this e newsletter or call 516 621 2195.     


The AERO conference will be May 20-24 at LIU/Post in Brookville, NY. Right now the best deal to sign up for the AERO conference is to do the package deal of registration and either a shared room package    for $390 or a  single room package  for $450.  Those prices haven't gone up yet. They are for three nights in the dorm. If you need more days in the dorm you can add more individually. The student, presenter and volunteer price is $175 and also hasn't gone up yet. Regular registration has been reduced to $250 for the 5 days. People can still use the 10% member discount for regular registration. 


We now have a special day rate for those who can't attend the whole conference. We will accept a limited number of these. 


This might be a very rare time to see Sugata Mitra in the New York area. He is a professor in England is from India.  He is famous for his "Hole in the wall" experiment, putting a computer in a wall in a slum area in India. The children taught themselves how to use it and do speak English! He won the Ted Award for that. Other keynoters will include Debbie Meier, Amy Valens, Zoe Weil, and Jeremy Stuart, who made the unschooling video "Class Dismissed."
AERO attendees will be able to participate in the New York Distance Learning Association conference and vice versa. If you don't go to the school visits on Thursday, the 20th you could visit their conference in Manhattan. They will meet at  Microsoft Headquarters, 11 Times Square. You can stay in the dorms on the 19th if you need to.  


AERO registrants who use the link below will get $20 worth of free Uber transportation and $40 if they send their e mail to conference partner NYDLA to connect with their conference. If you sign up using this NYDLA invite link below, Uber will credit your account for $20 off your first ride: 
To attend their events or to get the free Microsoft software you must register at


The AERO conference  schedule of events and workshops is now available on the website.

Another Earthquake in Nepal

Dear Friends,


And here it comes once again - another tremor of magnitude 7.4 (on the Richter scale) which you must have surely heard of.


Although we had been experiencing aftershocks even to this day, this tremor was almost as violent as the first intense one of 25th April, which destroyed much of Nepal and damaged so much of our buildings. 

This time, the tremor lasted for more than 20 seconds.


Children were studying in the school and elders were working in their respective places. As soon as we sensed the slightest of vibration, we alerted everyone to move to the open place. Luckily no one was injured, but this earthquake took a toll on our buildings.


While we were running for our lives, we could see bricks and chunks of walls falling from the upper floors of the kitchen complex.  Today's tremor had increased the magnitude of the damages already caused earlier, with widening of cracks and adding many more. 


We were deeply frightened at the sight of cowshed and boys dorm complex which was shaking more violently than ever, our hearts lost all hopes as we thought this would be the last moment we could see that building standing. Luckily we had moved all the boys to temporary shelter until repair/reconstruction.


Today's major earthquake has rendered this building completely unsafe to reside, as it may come down any time. We have lost a complete 4-story building with a total floor space of 5000 square meters. And with this we are at a serious need for a proper shade for our cows, the pashmina workshop and rooms for the boys to live in.    The remaining structure will have to be destroyed and a new one constructed in this place.


The mill and the reception building that were unscathed during the last earthquake have suffered quite a lot of damage this time.  Severe cracks on the walls are prominent on both buildings as well as some of their walls have dislodged from their original position. Repairing all these buildings is now an additional task.


In the past days we have been preparing ourselves to overcome the deeply instilled fears and trying to return to a more normal -like life.  And the new tremor brings all our confidence and strength crashing down just like the walls. 


This latest disaster has heavily compromised safety of life and we are in a situation of constant fear. Recovering, Repairing and Reconstructing is a herculean task. But with The Divine Mother's Grace and Your loving support there's no calamity that we can't cope with.


Thanking You 


With Love and Light

Ramchandra Das and all the children of Sri Aurobindo Yoga Mandir


Donate to the Ashram Earthquake Relief Fund HERE. 


These are three stories by Ashram graduate Rishi Bhandari about three children who were at the Ashram/orphanage and graduated. The first story is about himself. 


Rishi Bhandari


It was the summer of 1998 and Ramchandra, founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram, had gone to pick up his bag from a village in far Terai at the home of one of his acquaintances. He got his bag and got ready to travel back to Kathmandu in the morning.  On the doorstep he saw a frail looking woman in her mid twenties with a five year old boy. As she saw him she said, "Ever since he saw you yesterday evening he has not let me sleep at night, constantly asking me to let him go to Kathmandu with you." Ramchandra's eyes opened wide, but he thought to himself, "Well, this kid will certainly run back to his mom."  He talked to some of the villagers and learned that this woman's family lived in a cowshed of some other family. Her husband was in India working as a laborer in an iron rolling mill. He would toil in the factory for the day and later spend his time and money drinking. They had two sons and a daughter, and Ramchandra saw that they all were malnourished and underfed.


When it came time to leave, Ramchandra picked up his bag and got ready to leave, the little boy followed him. He smiled and held the boy's hand; he was ready to let go of the boy's hand if he wanted to go back to his mom.  The boy followed Ramchandra, didn't look back, and has never looked back.


Now Rishi is a young man of 22, currently studying biotechnology and also helping the children at the Ashram with their education. He has travelled to Australia, Korea, New Zealand and India to the....... 


Read more here 

Yaacov Hecht

Yaacov Hecht will be Skyping into a panel with Sugata Mitra at the AERO conference. 
Reflections on being a "Granny"
AERO keynoter Sugata Mitra has organized a group of "Grannies" to help some of the impoverished children he is working with in India. Long time AERO member Olivia Loria is one of them. This is her story.

By Olivia Loria

I have had the privilege of being a "Granny" for The School in the Cloud program for a year now. I Skype with the same group of girls from the GGSS in Kalkaji, New Delhi weekly or nearly weekly, minus exam days and holidays, which they seem to have many. The girls range in age from 12-14 and have progressed from grade 6 to grade 7 this year. The School in the Cloud website describes their background as lower socio economic with fathers who are daily wagers, typically with an 8th grade education, and mothers who are domestic helpers or housewives, mostly illiterate.

Read the rest here.
Zoe Weil Receives Honorary Doctorate from Valparaiso University

Zoe Weill will keynote the AERO conference on the evening of Friday the 22nd


Zoe Weil, president and co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) based in Surry, Maine, will be awarded an honorary doctorate by Valparaiso University on May 16 for her commitment to creating a better world through humane education. IHE has trained and supported educators and advocates worldwide for the past 19 years to incorporate real-world sustainability and social justice issues into classrooms and communities.


"It is an honor to be recognized by Valparaiso University," Weil said. "I look forward to strengthening our partnership and growing the humane education program in a way that provides many more graduate students the opportunity to see the challenges of our time through a solutionary lens and gain the skills necessary to create a more humane and compassionate world."  


Read the rest here.
By Charles Eisenstein

Not long ago, a Din? (Navajo) friend of mine, Lyla June Johnston, sent me a one-line email: "I am not going to Harvard... I am going to plant corn."

Her statement signals a profound divergence from the path she'd set out on when she was an undergraduate at Stanford University. She is choosing instead to learn the lifeways of her culture, to become fluent in her language, to relearn traditional skills, to be intimate with the land. The dominant American culture does not encourage such a path.

We'd talked about it before, her decision to take a prestigious graduate course at Harvard. The usual themes came up: the doors that might be opened, the credibility that might be turned towards a good cause. I remember observing how common it is to adopt the values and mindsets of the environment in which one is immersed - to become a creature of the very system one sets out to subvert. We appreciated the toxicity of the story, "See, a Native American woman can make it big too and go to Harvard." Toxic, because it celebrates the very same system of status and privilege that has marginalized the worldview, culture and value system she comes from.

Read the rest here.
Readsboro, Writing and 'Rithmetic: Fears Grow Over the Future of Small Schools

By Terri Hallenbeck 


Readsboro is a tiny town on the Massachusetts border, about as far from the Statehouse as you can get and still be in Vermont. Yet its residents are making their voices heard in Montpelier.


Fearful that an advancing education bill would rip the heart out of their community, townspeople mobilized at the Readsboro Central School on a Saturday in mid-April. Some 50 or so citizens pleaded for help from their two Bennington County state senators, both of whom attended.


They talked about how the school, where 58 students attend pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, is the center of the community; the importance of the individual attention students receive from teachers; and the fact that parents stop by daily. "I was really proud to be part of our community that day," said Susan Edgerton, a Readsboro school board member who was there. "We really rallied."


Read the rest here

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


Jerry Mintz
Executive Director
Alternative Education Resource Organization

tensignsThe Ten Signs You Need to Find a Different Kind of Education for Your Child
Many parents don't realize that the education world has changed drastically since they were in school. Schools and class sizes used to be smaller, dropout rates lower, in-school violence almost unheard of, and teachers weren't terrified of showing affection to their students, or of discussing moral values. Of course, even then, school was far from perfect, but at least the teachers-and usually the principal-knew every student by name, something that is increasingly rare today.

Because our public school system has deteriorated considerably, many parents, teachers, and individuals have taken it upon themselves to create public and private alternatives to that system; and it is important for parents to know that they now have choices.

So how do you know that it's time to look for another educational approach for your child? Here are some of the signs:

1. Does your child say he or she hates school?

If so, something is probably wrong with the school. Children are natural learners, and when they're young, you can hardly stop them from learning. If your child says they hate school, listen to them.  

May 17th, 2015
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