Take Important Survey Below
Opt Out Movement Spills into Florida

Important Survey: What Would You Like To Share With Us, Have Us Cover?
The AERO conference is over, AEROx2 is over, the School Starter Course has started, Black  Friday  is 5 weeks away and we haven't yet announced the next AERO conference's location or date. So, what do you want to talk about, share with us? We have a short survey that could shape a lot of what we do ongoing.
It is true that AERO's website is the #1 on Google for alternative education and that we get about a half million visitors to it a year. We have about 13,000 on this e newsletter database, all people who have contacted us at some point. But we have an average of only 1500 who open each one, and you're one of them. If you do the survey you'll be one of only 100 or so who do so, and your responses will help us determine the direction of our coverage in the future. Furthermore, this may jog your memory about something important you know in this field of learner-centered, student empowering education and motivate you to send it to us. This is the kind of interaction AERO thrives on!

By the way, it would be great if you forward this to people in your school, community, or organization so we can help spread the word further.

The survey is in Google Forms so we can easily process it and report on it for you. It contains 27 areas you can choose from, clicking as many or as few as you are interested in having us report on. There is an "other" section to add areas we missed. Then there is a section where you can tell us of resources we should know about. Finally there is a box for general comments. The only required one is to check the boxes, so it is essentially a one item survey. Please take a couple of minutes to let us know what you'd like us to cover. 

You can take the survey here.
Graduates Want Seniors to Follow Their Passion!

On October 14th I participated in a panel of alumni at my old public high school, speaking to the current high school seniors. Actually I wasn't expecting much.
There was a lineup of about a dozen alumni graduating as little as seven years ago to as much as 55 years ago, speaking one after the other for five or six minutes each.
But as they spoke an important theme emerged. Over and over again they told stories of their search for meaningful work. Some felt they had been misdirected by expectations. Some started out in one direction only to discover it wasn't what they wanted to do.
The clear theme was "Find your passion!"  A couple of the younger ones are now in the business of making apps. But several pointed out that they must be entrepreneurial and that the field they might go into probably doesn't even exist yet. Someone else said that whatever you think you are going to do now, the chances of that becoming your final vocation may be 10%. Therefore you need to be able to continuously learn and change direction.
There was a lawyer who became a musician, a lawyer who became a musician and then became a judge. There was writer who became a farmer. There was an  athlete  who found his passion in volunteering. 
There were about 100 seniors in the audience. When I spoke I pointed out the theme of finding your passion and the need for learner-centered education. I also mentioned that my grandfather used to sit down with me when I was six or seven and ask me "What do you want to learn?" That seemed to me the obvious way to become educated. But when I discovered that most schools don't work that way I became a rebel and continue to be one! I once called my high school "The best school of a failed system!"
When I was fifteen I organized my friends into a study group that could discuss and explore anything.We even had our own guest speakers when we couldn't find the answers ourselves. 
My point was underlined when a bell rang and half the seniors stood up and had to leave. As John Gatto points out, that phenomenon underlines that idea that no learning is important and anything can be cut short by a bell, forcing you to go elsewhere.
There is an alternative within the school call School Within a School, or SWS. It has been going since 1971 and runs democratically. I have heard that the democratic school I had started three years earlier inspired it. After the panel a student from SWS came up to me and she said she was studying educational alternatives and wanted to get involved with AERO and be part of our next conference. There is hope!

 Just Listen: Youth Talk About Learning

This is a site that features students talking about their learning experiences in various settings. 

Iwas sent to us by the organization What Kids Can Do. 

Go to their Youtube channel here.
Election 2016: Standardized Testing "Opt-Out" Movement Spills Into Florida

The day before school let out in May, 9-year old Hailey Everett brought home a certificate for making the honor roll at Chocachatti Elementary School in Hernando County.  The next day, her grandmother and guardian Pam Everett got a call from the school's principal telling her Hailey would not be promoted to fourth grade.

"My jaw hit the floor. I mean I couldn't believe it," she said. "Here's this student that was two grades above her reading level, and then to tell me they're going to retain because [of] no score?"

Hailey had no score on the  Florida Standards Assessment  because her grandmother told her not to take the test. She broke the seal on the exam and signed her name to it, however, and Everett says that means her granddaughter participated in the test, as the state requires.

Read the rest here.
One View: Nevada Could Write New Rules For American Schools
By  Dusty Wunderlich

Last month the Nevada Supreme  Court ruled that the Educational Savings Account structure is constitutional and money is available for parents to make a choice in education, and are not public funds. This landmark ruling is the first of its kind in the United States. Nevada may be the first state to give parents this choice in education and could join a group of international leaders in education.

Despite broad misunderstanding of the issue, this legislation presents a highly competitive market solution to education.  American tops education spending among developed nations, yet our scores  are middle of the pack for reading and among the worst for math in comparison.  Ranked 44th among the states, Nevada specifically has some catching up to do.

Read the rest here.
New York Alternative Education Research Project Needs Needs Volunteers
Are you a student with a disability, chronic illness, or mental health issue who is currently attending a group programming such as unschooling cooperatives, homeschooling resource centers, democratic free schools, Sudbury Valley schools, and other alternative education programs?

Do you live in the New York City Metropolitan Area? Are you ages 13-25?

Would you be interested in sharing your experiences in alternative education programs and discussing topics such as inclusion, accessibility, interaction, and how education programs could work for you?

I am conducting a research study on the experiences of students with disabilities in alternative education programs. If you are interested in participating or for more information, please contact me atemily.brooks@spsmail.cuny.edu .

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!