Sir Ken Robinson Talk Endorses AERO!
Do 8 Times More Students Want to Homeschool Than are Currently Homeschooled?

Sir Ken Robinson's New Talk
Hardly anyone has seen this new short talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He made it specifically to welcome people from democratic schools around the world to the recent International Democratic Education Conference in Israel. 

In the talk he specifically says " I am a great admirer of the democratic school movement...and also Education Cities...and I'm a great supporter of AERO and its global network.

He then goes on to clearly summarize what he thinks education should look like in the future as it relates to the models  offered by IDEC and AERO schools and organizations. Among other points he said " We need to look at the alternatives. The alternatives work. The great challenge for the alternative and democratic school movement is to take these alternatives from the fringe to the mainstream! When we do that we'll find we don't need alternatives because we will have implemented principles that actually work!

The AERO Conference was a spinoff of the IDEC which we hosted in Troy, NY in 2003. This will be our 14th AERO conference!

Watch the whole Sir Ken Robinson talk here.
DeVos Tells Fox News: 'There Isn't Really Any Common Core Any More'
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos seems to be indicating that, as far as she's concerned, the Common Core State Standards aren't really a big point of discussion in education any longer. But how did she express that idea, and does it hold up to scrutiny? 

During a Fox News interview Monday, anchor Bill Hemmer asked DeVos whether the U.S. Department of Education would withhold federal money from states that use the standards.
"The Every Students Succeeds Act ... essentially does away with the whole argument about common core," DeVos responded, adding that the law gives states more flexibility in education policy decisions. She added that she hoped all states in their ESSA plans would include high expectations for students.

But Hemmer pressed her again on the question about withholding federal funds over the common core. DeVos replied, "There isn't really any common core any more. Each state is able to set the standards for their state. They may elect to adopt very high standards for their students to aspire to and to work toward. And that will be up to each state."

Read the rest here.
LANGER: PARCC Testing Taking Joy Out Of Learning
ED: This is a story by a New Jersey high school sophomore.

By  Jessica Langer

The common understanding of education is the learning of information to expand one's knowledge. However, New Jersey schools are no longer abiding by that criteria. Instead, students are coerced into following curriculums strictly based on a test. Many question the integrity of tests; do tests truly show one's knowledge of a subject or have these new age tests become the reason why students are under so much stress?

In 2010, New Jersey implemented Common Core, standards by which students from kindergarten through high school are measured. Common Core calls for teachers to provide lessons in English language arts and mathematics based upon the belief that these standards will help better prepare students for college. Common Core has not only caused many students to be sidetracked in their education process, it has left students struggling to keep up with its demands.

Read the rest here.

Shaming Children So Parents Will Pay the School Lunch Bill

On the first day of seventh grade last fall, Caitlin Dolan lined up for lunch at her school in Canonsburg, Pa. But when the cashier discovered she had an unpaid food bill from last year, the tray of pizza, cucumber slices, an apple and chocolate milk was thrown in the trash.

"I was so embarrassed," said Caitlin, who said other students had stared. "It's really weird being denied food in front of everyone. They all talk about you."

Caitlin's mother, Merinda Durila, said that her daughter qualified for free lunch, but that a paperwork mix-up had created an outstanding balance. Ms. Durila said her child had come home in tears after being humiliated in front of her friends.

Holding children publicly accountable for unpaid school lunch bills - by throwing away their food, providing a less desirable alternative lunch or branding them with markers - is often referred to as "lunch shaming."

Read the rest here.
What's Happening at the AERO Conference--With Much More to be Announced in the Next Few Weeks!
Quotes from past conferences:

"The conference was the high point of my life (other than the birth of my sons) and I will never forget the experience..."

"We left with unforgettable memories, inspiring thoughts and hope that we will meet all those interesting people again. Now I have this feeling that we are not alone and there are a lot of people to learn from, exchange experiences with and ask for support if we have problems."

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 they 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 17 of them. Several others are in process.

This year we are blessed with a great variety of workshops in our initial release. We have workshops about research into unschooling, about the rebirth of public education, about progressive education, homeschool resource centers, holistic learning, teacher liberation, and entrepreneurial learning. They are about how to explain educational alternatives to your friends and relatives, when to teach a child to read, how to have a healthy school, and nature in urban areas. And there is a panel of unschooled teens talking about how they are organizing their lives. Many of these presenters would be or have been keynoters at many conferences. As we uniquely do at all AERO conferences, there will be one or two spots available at each session for spontaneous workshops. A few regular workshop slots are still available. 
You can see all the first posted and approved workshops and bios HERE! 

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. 

Watch for announcements in the next few weeks of the schedule of events, new  documentary films, mini talk presenters, new workshops and more! Those who register by the next two weeks will get priority for meet and greet events. 

Do 8 Times More Students Want to Homeschool Than are Now Homeschooling? 
A small article, written by students in Newsday's Kidsday section caught my attention. The students reported on a survey they did in their school about whether the 1st to 5th graders preferred school or homeschooling.  109 children said they wanted to homeschool and 253 said they wanted to be in school. Remember, this poll was taken in a public school. That means that 30% of the students wanted to homeschool whereas only 4% of the population actually home schools. I think that is a remarkable result, indicating a great awareness of homeschooling among very young students, with 8 times as many as actually homeschool wishing they could!

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!