New Documentary Announced
Yong Zhao, Keynote Speaker for the 2016 AERO Conference.
Zhao TEDx Talk
 Conference info here. Portland AERO Registration is only $275, but will rise soon. Workshop proposals now accepted here
Peter Gray will also keynote
See his TEDx talk here
Stuart Grauer
Founder of the Grauer School
Author of Fearless Teaching
See one of his videos here

Conference Schedule Now Posted
Workshop Reservations Start Next Week
Did our April Fools joke get you? No, the conference isn't full yet. A few people thought it was true and a few thought it was very funny.

Many people have been asking, and we're happy to announce that we've now posted the tentative schedule. It includes the workshops and keynotes, slots for the Thursday Mini-talks and documentaries (see newly added documentary below). Because of conference numbers we will take signups for preferred workshops starting next week. You must be registered to sign up for a workshop

If you are planning to attend but haven't registered yet, please do so now or at least use the deposit option. It will help us greatly. If you can't register now or have a group, special need or want to volunteer, please contact us by replying to this e news or writing to 

You can register this week for the 5 day AERO conference for  $275 , and you also have the option to register at the $225 rate if you are low income . This will end without warning as the conference gets more full. We still have the $500 patron rate for those who want to sponsor another attendee, half of which is tax deductible. Other rates: Volunteers and students can still register at the $200 rate . The rate for children under 12 is $100 , which includes child care. Contact us directly for special group rates. 

Get more info or register here!
NEA Survey: Nearly Half Of Teachers Consider Leaving Profession Due to Standardized Testing

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently conceded that too much standardized testing was "sucking the oxygen out of the room" and causing "undue stress." Although some of the nation's educators may have been encouraged by Duncan's words, most policymakers have spent the past decade ignoring calls from teachers to curb high-stakes testing.

But what is it about standardized testing specifically that makes it toxic to so many educators? To help answer this question, researchers at the National Education Association collected and analyzed phone survey data from 1500 PreK-12 teachers. Four specific factors emerged that, taken together, reveal a teaching force frustrated with the impact high stakes testing has had on students and on morale.

Read the rest here.
NPE Calls For National Opt Out
Ed: The Network for Public Education made this call this week for a national Opt-Out. We thought that was significant. But we also received the article that follows it that accuses them of hypocrisy. We're presenting them both to you for you to make up your own mind. You can write to us about it if you are interested. --JM

After careful thought and deliberation, the Network for Public Education is calling for a national Opt Out because of the harmful effects of annual high-stakes testing on children and schools.  We enthusiastically support those parents who refuse to have their children take the 2016 state exams.

The alleged purpose of annual testing, federally mandated since NCLB was passed in 2004, is to unveil the achievement gaps within schools, ostensibly to close them.  Twelve years later, there is no conclusive evidence that NCLB high-stakes testing has improved the academic performance of any student-particularly those who need the most help. All that has been closed by testing are children's neighborhood schools.

Fairfield University Professor and NPE Board member, Yohuru Williams, has made the case that annual high-stakes testing feeds racial determinism and closes doors of opportunity for black and brown children. We agree when he states that opting out is a necessary and direct act of protest to highlight the injustice of a system that refuses to address the underlying socio-economic problems that contribute to unequal learning experiences.  The current demand for high-stakes testing and uniform standards diverts attention from the hard work of school improvement and the correction of the social and economic inequities that lead to inequitable results.

Read the rest here.
NPE's Attempt to Coopt Opt Out
Ed: This is the take on it by Education Matters: 

The world of anti-corporate education reform is a small one, and the fiercest and most effective elements are represented by the non-negotiating and in-your-face teachers, students, and parents who comprise the high stakes testing opt out movement. 

Their disobedient presences have been the tiny drops of life in a dead sea of testing, from Long Island to Colorado, from Florida to Washington State.  But one thing is for sure: when these overwhelmingly out-financed troublemakers sweat or bleed or cry into that vast dead standardized ocean, the colors change, the sun can once again be seen beneath the surface, and the waters start to move again with life. 

In New York, for instance, hundreds of thousands of parents, in defiance of unjust laws that would require abusive tests for their children, have opted out of tests in recent years withoutlegal permission to do so.  Last year, 20 percent of New York children refused to take the racist, classist, and, otherwise, useless tests that are mandated by law.

Read the rest here.
New Documentary for AERO
The new documentary, Mother Nature's Child, will be shown at the AERO Conference

 Mother Nature's Child explores nature's powerful role in children's health and development through the experience of toddlers, children in middle childhood and adolescents. The film marks a moment in time when a living generation can still recall childhoods of free play outdoors; this will not be true for most children growing up today. The effects of "nature deficit disorder" are now being noted across the country in epidemics of child obesity, attention disorders, and depression.
Mother Nature's Child asks the questions: Why do children need unstructured time outside? What is the place of risk-taking in healthy child development? How is play a form of learning? Why are teachers resistant to taking students outside? How can city kids connect with nature? What does it mean to educate the 'whole' child?

Watch trailer here
Featured AERO Conference 2016 Workshop!
Creating Financially Self­Sufficient Schools through Youth EntrepreneurshipEric Bear

Imagine if our schools didn't rely on tuition, grants, and (mostly non­existent) government funding! Financial self­sufficiency is a vital component to the overall stability of any learning community, and a challenging one in communities whose wealth lies not in their federal currency. There are schools in the world that integrate businesses into their operation to generate the money they need to operate, and Join us to share, generate, and collect resources for creating financially self­sufficient schools with the students!

You can see a list of workshops for this year's conference here. The ALC workshops are at the bottom.

You can register for the AERO Conference here.
Links and Calendar
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!