The Weekly Newsletter of Educational Alternatives -
Bringing Unschooling to School
(Special to AERO)
By Alex Walker

My son is only three years old, but even before he was born I was determined to raise him in a less conventional way. I knew homeschooling - or more specifically, unschooling - would probably be part of that design.

Like so many people, my unconventional view of education is bound up with my attraction to a less mainstream lifestyle. Part of me longs to turn on my heel, leave all the worldly nonsense I detest about society in the dust, and carry out life naturally and as I see fit - off-grid, both figuratively and literally.

A big part of the society I'd like to leave behind is its school system. I want to keep my son out of the depressing feedback loop of the 19th century factory-style education system that 1990 New York City Teacher of the Year and unschooling advocate John Taylor Gatto aptly called "instruments of the scientific management of a mass population". In the process of becoming an adult, I want my son to have an experience that is itself significant, and not a contrived training for what is expected of him as an adult. I want him to have the guidance and resources available to become an independently minded person who can make empowered decisions for himself rather than having an authority of one kind or another tell him what he should be concerned about in both his early education and life in general.

Read the rest here.
AERO Has First Free Webinar, on School Starting
AERO School: The Knowing Gardon, Redondo Beach, CA

Last Thursday, August 20th, AERO offered its first ever webinar. It was on school-starting and was a great success. Many people watched it and subsequently signed up for the full course, which will go from September through January. We still have 5 opening left for the course after which enrollment will be closed for the year. For one day we are going to offer the 10% discount for the course for those who go to the archived webinar and get the code. At that point we'll also take down the free webinar. You can register to see it  here

People sent is some great questions, in advance and during the webinar. For example,

"If we forego accreditation, how does that work for students?"

"Have there been any online democratic schools developed yet?"

"Besides desire, what kind of background/education is needed to start?"

If you have specific questions, write to

If you plan to start your new alternative in the next year or two and you want to avoid common pitfalls, enroll in the online School Starters Course before it fills up. 

Another Big Win for Opt-Out

It looks like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the national Democratic Party are getting nervous. Certainly Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents, and Governor Andrew Cuomo are backing off. After months of threatening that high student opt-out rates on high-stakes Common Core aligned standardized tests would cause school districts to lose federal and state aid, the  threats have evaporated. Poor MaryEllen Elia, the new state education commissioner and agent in charge of making the threats, has been hung out to dry.

The federal government's Race to the Top initiative  mandates that 95 percent of the students in a district take the exams. Because of the Opt-Out movement many school districts in New York State fell below the threshold. Opt-Out is particularly strong in suburban communities on Long Island in in the Hudson River Valley.

This week Merryl Tisch  announced districts with high opt-out rates would not be punished. Apparently she now realizes withdrawing money from a school district "what you're doing is you're hurting the kids" and its not an "effective way" to deal with the Opt-out movement.

Read the rest here.
If Schools were Restaurants

"Imagine running a restaurant where each customer's order is determined in advance - not by the customer, or even by the chef, but by an "order committee" at the restaurant's corporate office. How often do you think these predetermined orders would match the tastes, appetites, and special dietary needs of each patron? Isn't this what we are doing in our schools when we allow curriculum to be imposed from a distance by people who have never even met a single child in a given teacher's classroom?" (Jim Strickland)

Five US Presidents, since the "Nation At Risk Report" in 1983, have set a pattern with "summits" of governors and business executives, that has continued to the present day - goals, curriculum and teaching methods are established by distant people who are deemed to be smarter than teachers.

When I was principal of a Northern Utah elementary school, a group of extraordinary teachers created a different kind of back-to-school night that resulted in a revolutionary discovery. Asking for help from the PTA, these teachers  held meetings with each child's parents, during three school days, to learn more about the child and develop a partnership. (Parents covered teacher's classes while teachers met with each child's parents.) The teachers wanted the partnership meetings during the second week of school so they could partially get to know the child before meeting with parents.

Read the rest here.

You can buy Lynn Stoddard's book "Educating for Human Greatness" here.
Education Activists Go On Hunger Strike Over Dyett High School's Future
Ellyn Fortino

Twelve supporters of revitalizing Chicago's Dyett High School campus began a hunger strike Monday morning as they continue their call for the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system to adopt a long-proposed community plan to turn Dyett into a "global leadership and green technology" high school.

The Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School, which created the plan to re-open Dyett as a global leadership and green technology school, spearheaded the hunger strike. The 12 hunger strikers, including community and faith leaders, education activists and public school parents, held their protest outside the now-closed school, located in the Washington Park neighborhood at 555 E. 51st St.

Read the rest here.
Montessori Madness
This animated video would work for any learner-centered school!

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.  

August 23rd, 2015
In This Issue
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