Free Things on the AERO Website
Should Congress Dismantle the Education Department? 

Free and Discounted AERO Features
Free Things from AERO You Should Know About
Readers have recently reminded us that there are many features on the AERO website that people don't know about. So we've made a quick list of some of these that you may not know about. 

AERO's world-wide list of Democratic Schools is free to join. Just send us the information and website.
AERO's online museum is free. If you have something interesting to add to it let us know.
AERO's Hall of Fame information is free to access
AERO list of Member Schools and Organizations is free to access.
You can sign up for the free weekly e newsletter on any page of the website.
We have a special section on the website for higher education alternatives
You can get a free 15 minute consultation from Jerry. You can then decide if you need a longer one.
Things that are Free if you are an AERO Member:
You can send in free job ads for jobs wanted or offered. Just e mail it to us.
You get a free link from our member site, as well as a link to a video if you have one.
You get free access to AERO's video archives.
You get a free AERO member banner to post on your website.
You get 10% discount on book sales and the AERO conference.
Discounted  Items at AERO
Right now you can still register for the entire 5 day AERO conference for the $225 earlybird rate. Students, presenters and volunteers are $175
The current online school starter course is now complete and the School Starter Consultation Program has started. For $300 you can access all resources from the course as well as get individual consultations.
All books in the AERO bookstore are on sale. E books are also available.
For a short while longer advertisers can get banner ads posted in every weekly AERO e newsletter and on every major page of the AERO website for less than half price, $1000 for the year! Ends this month

'Uber for Substitutes' Promises to Enrich Learning When the Teacher Is Away
By Madeline Will

Do students receive the same quality of learning when their teacher is out? 

One veteran teacher, frustrated with the amount of movies and busy work she saw in classes with substitute teachers, has come up with a solution that Harvard Ed. magazine refers to as "Uber for substitute teachers." Her startup,  Parachute Teachers, is a way to support high-quality substitutes to do more than pass out worksheets or struggle to implement a hastily prepared lesson plan. 

Her concept: Have professionals in the community-a computer scientist, a chef, a musician, a graduate student, and so on-"parachute" into the classroom and teach something they're passionate about. The idea, founder Sarah Cherry Rice says, is to promote authentic learning in classrooms, even when the teacher is away. 

Read the rest here.
Advice for Betsy DeVos From Canada
By  Beth Green

The newly confirmed U.S. secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, will take office during a tumultuous time in American education. As a school-choice advocate, she is well-positioned to put her stamp on the expansion of charter schools and other effective-but often controversial-education reforms. DeVos has invested millions of dollars in the school choice cause and in inner-city charter school initiatives.

If the grilling DeVos endured in last month's confirmation hearing is any indication, any push from within the Trump administration for greater diversity of elementary and secondary school options will end in an acrimonious public vs. private debate. But it need not be that way.

In fact, one can advocate for a much more expansive definition of public education: one that offers greater parental choice in a system that is responsive to local community and parental demand, while absolutely shunning for-profit elementary and secondary schools. One can believe that public schools should not be uniform, but that in receipt for their funding-whether through vouchers, tax credits, or charter models-they should be properly regulated and held fully accountable.

Read the rest here.
Should Congress Dismantle U.S. Department of Education and Embrace Full Local Control of Schools?
By Maureen Downey

Considering that virtually all the countries outpacing the United States in educational attainment have national curriculums, the disdain for any federal involvement in education in this country seems inexplicable.

Despite laments about federal control of schools, American schools enjoy more local control over their schools than most any country in the developed world. As a result, the U.S. has dramatically uneven results from state to state. Historically, the lowest performing states have been in the South.

While there's a nostalgia for schools of bygone days, America has never experienced a golden age of education. Yes, there was always an elite core of students for whom college was the expectation; they received quality educations. But there was a belief - shared by schools, parents and students - that the factory, farm and mill jobs awaiting most teens did not demand high-level thinking, writing or math skills. Kids could nap through math class or chemistry and still land a decent job in a factory.

As Phil  Schlechty, author of "Working on the Work" and "Shaking up the Schoolhouse," once told me, "Schools were designed to send 10 percent of students to college. In 1960, half the kids didn't drop out of high school - because they didn't come to school. They got through eighth grade and left. Schools are much better than they used to be at what they used to do, but we don't want them to do that anymore."

Read the rest here.
Finally, the First Mini-talk!!
At the last AERO conference in Portland, Oregon August 2016, we pioneered a day of the first AERO mini-talks. We had seven short presentations similar to TED talks. In this issue we are releasing the first one with the others to follow shortly.
The one we are releasing today features Shilpa Jain.
A previous AERO keynoter, Shilpa Jain has been organizing Education JAMs all over the world for many years.  She is Executive Director of YES! The JAM incubates exploratory and innovative programs. Each JAM has about thirty participants. AERO collaborated with YES to bring her group to the AERO conference. In this mini-talk she demonstrated some of the high energy, insightful activities that they were doing in her group. After watching this mini-talk you could do something similar with your group. Watch carefully when you get to the activities themselves. It may look at first like people milling round, but you will see the process emerging over a few minutes time. Please send us feedback on this talk and send it out far and wide to your networks!

You can see the next mini-talks at the AERO conference August 2-6 in New York. The whole five day conference is still at the Earlybird rate of $225. Or you could catch the similar TED talks for only $8500 in Vancouver, except that this year is sold out!

You can see Shilpa Jain's mini-talk here.

You can submit a proposal for a mini-talk at the 2017 AERO Conference here, and submit a workshop 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!