Video and Audio from First AERO Conference Keynoters
Sudbury: The Results of Freedom

The Trump War on Public Schools
By Gail Collins

One of the most disturbing things about the Trump administration is its antipathy toward public schools.

Perhaps you remember the president's mini-rant in his inaugural speech about an "education system flush with cash but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge."

Well, Trump's choice for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, is responsible for Michigan's  charter school boom, which  currently costs the state about $1.1 billion a year. A 2014  investigation by The Detroit Free Press found myriad examples of "wasteful spending and double-dipping." Thanks in large part to DeVos's lobbying in the Legislature, there's virtually no oversight. So much for the young and beautiful students.

Take that for a rant.

Read the rest here.
The Results of Freedom
By Mimsy Sadofsky

The following is a speech (very slightly edited) delivered on June 29, 1993, to a public meeting sponsored by a group founding a school, Timpanogos Village, in Provo, Utah.

I've come here this evening to talk about the Sudbury Valley School. The founding of Timpanogos Village, which bills itself as "A Different Approach to Schooling" has brought us all together in hopes that I might have some ideas about how that different approach works in practice.

I think I do. First of all, the choice of the name Timpanogos Village tells you something right off the bat. The model you have chosen represents more than a different approach to schooling; it is really a different way for children and adults to approach both maturity and lifelong learning.

I have been aware for some time that the word "School" in Sudbury Valley's name leads people in the wrong direction from the beginning, but we don't have another word in the language yet for a setting in which children gather daily to lead their lives. Village strikes me as a closer match, because in so many ways Sudbury Valley is like a village, and in so many ways we try to insure the freedom of action of a village life-style. I think you will see that, as I read from the words of former students of our school, and I hope the reality and the atmosphere of Sudbury Valley will reveal themselves to you this evening through their words.

Read the rest here.
Shavar Jeffries, Democrats for Education Reform: The argument FOR Betsy DeVos; Why DFER (and I) cannot support her nomination
Forgive my silence on Betsy DeVos, but I wanted to digest what she said during her hearings and collect my thoughts (and those of people I trust).
1) As you will read below, both Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), on whose board I serve, and I (personally) cannot support her nomination - but I sincerely hope we're wrong and that she surprises us. To that end, I'm going to lead this email with this argument in her favor, made by an experienced, smart and trusted friend:
I think you've mischaracterized Betsy's record, and I think she'll be an outstanding Secretary of Education. As someone who has, as a Democrat, worked alongside Betsy since 2000, I can assure you that few, if any, other Republicans have done more to promote accountable school choice for low-income communities across the country. She has repeatedly stood up against laissez-faire advocates and insisted on focusing on students who, because of their economic situations, have no school options. She holds fast to designs that would 1) test the academic progress of scholarship recipients, 2) be transparent about the results, 3) close schools that aren't cutting it, and 4) include tough financial controls for any school receiving public funds. It's crazy to me that she's being maligned as anti-accountability. 

Read the rest here.
   Presenter and Student Super Earlybird Rates End Monday
Video and Audio from First AERO Keynoters
Dennis Littky's Video

Dennis Littky's Video Follow Your Passion 

I 've known Dennis Littky for decades. He has always been a gadfly and rabble rouser in public education, but his results always spoke for themselves and his ideas simply couldn't be dismissed. The MET Schools and the other alternatives they have inspired are dramatic examples of what is possible.

Dennis Littky is the co-founder and co-director of The Met School, Big Picture Learning and founder and President of College Unbound. He is nationally known for his extensive work in secondary education in urban, suburban, and rural settings, spanning over 40 years. As an educator, Dennis has a reputation for working up against the edge of convention and out of the box, turning tradition on its head and delivering concrete results. From 2000-2010 The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave Big Picture Learning 20 million dollars to replicate The Met School nationally and internationally. Currently there is a network of 113 schools, 52 across the country, 40 in Australia and 21 in the Netherlands.

Presently, Dennis's focus has been to expand the Big Picture Learning design to include a college, College Unbound, for adults, that allows them to earn a Bachelors Degree while creating a project around their interest and working full time. The innovative college is rethinking how we educate the 37 million adults who started college but didn't finish. 

Dr. Littky holds a double Ph.D. in psychology and education from the University of Michigan. His work as a principal at Thayer Junior/Senior High School in Winchester, N.H. is featured in an NBC movie, A Town Torn Apart based on the book Doc: The Story of Dennis Littky and His Fight for a Better School. In 2004, he wrote (along with Samantha Grabelle) The Big Picture: Education is Everyone's Business, which went on to win the Association of Educational Publishers' top award for nonfiction in 2005. In 2003, Dennis was recognized as a leader in education and awarded the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. Fast Company ranked Littky #4 among the top 50 Innovators of 2004, and the George Lucas Educational Foundation recently selected Dennis as part of their Daring Dozen. Locally, Dennis was awarded the Local Hero Award by Bank of America in 2008 and College Unbound was awarded The Innovative and Creative Program Award by UPCEA, New England. Most recently, Dennis was awarded the New England Higher Education Excellence Award in 2011.

D ayna Martin's Intense Unschooling Interview

Dayna Martin will be a keynoter at the AERO conference this year. She is an author and speaker and widely known expert on radical unschooling, natural birth and attachment parenting. She is the author of Radical Unschooling, a Revolution has Begu
n, and Radical Birth, just released. She has been on the Dr. Phil Show, Oprah Winfrey and has traveled the world as the UnNanny, and has been the featured speaking at many major parenting and education conferences. She recorded the very first video ever about unschooling on Youtube.
She resides in New Hampshire with her husband and four children.

Click here to see more information about Dayna.


The next AERO conference will be back in New York, at the Long Island University C.W. Post campus from August 2-6. We researched extensively and the cost of this to participants is half or less than any other options we found in the New York area. 
One thing different this time is that all families can stay on campus in the dorms. 
You can now apply to present a workshop here. We've already received several and will limit the number of workshops this year to about 40. This is because we plan to again have a day of TEDx type mini-talks that were so successful last year. We'll be announcing that soon. 
You can now register for the AERO conference at the Earlybird Rate of $225. THE PRESENTER AND STUDENT SUPER-EARLYBIRD RATES END MONDAY AT MIDNIGHT! When you make a proposal for a presentation you can register at the presenter rate. We are also taking individual and group deposits for $50 and $100 respectively.

Also, dorm room rates are still unbelievably low. You can reserve a bed in a two person room for $59 a night, and a single for $75 a night. We have similarly good rates for couples and a new one, a suite for parents with up to two children

You can find more information on our conference site.conference site
Here are free links to two of last year's keynotes. Last we posted Peter Gray's presentation Here is Peter Gray's fascinating and unique keynote . And here is Yong Zhao's insightful and hilarious keynote . Peter Gray is an evolutionary psychologist with expertise in the area of play and close connections to Sudbury Valley School. In this talk he traces education's roots further back that most people can imagine! Yong Zhao is a renowned expert on Chinese and American education. His talk was  uniquely created for AERO and featured his personal "alternative" education in China. 
To take advantage of the Earlybird registration rate, click 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!