The Weekly Newsletter of Educational Alternatives -
We Need a Final $1000 on Matching Fund With 3 Days to go
Last year the New Visions Foundation made an unusual two-part, two-year grant to us which included a $10,000 match ending in December, which we made, and another $10,000 match ending this month, June 30th. We are only short $1000 on that one, having raised $3000 in the last two weeks. If you haven't donated to the matching fund yet, please do. If you have, or have donated to the match or to help the Nepal orphanage relief, please consider a small additional donation to help us make the match.
Thanks so much for your generous support! 
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School Starter Course Registration Now Open
Brooklyn Free School 2015 Graduation
Treating Kids Like Hamburgers, Pearson Exec 'Fesses' Up

By Alan Singer  


You can't make this stuff up. On June 23, 2015 the New York Times reported on Pearson mass Common Core grading centers where a college degree but no special knowledge is required to grade tests and temporary employees make between $12 and $14 an hour plus small bonuses if they "hit daily quality and volume targets." According to the article, Pearson insists "strict training and scoring protocols are intended to ensure consistency, no matter who is marking the tests."


Pearson advertised for people to grade the Common Core aligned tests on Craigslist and Facebook and hired about 14,500 temporary employees. To ensure "quality," already grading exams were sorted in with new exams to see if the graders come up with the same score. It is not clear what happens if they don't.


Bob Sanders, vice president of content and scoring management at Pearson North America compared the scoring of high-stakes standardized Common Core-aligned exams to making hamburgers at McDonald's. "McDonald's has a process in place to make sure they put two patties on that Big Mac. We do that exact same thing. We have processes to oversee our processes, and to make sure they are being followed." Mr. Sanders, of course, has a degree from the University of Iowa in business and has never been a teacher. According to his Linkedin page, he cares about children and considers himself a "A respected dynamic leader, strategic thinker, and creative problem solver within technology, retail, and the educational assessment industries."

Read the rest here.
Homework is a Social Justice Issue

By Kris Shaffer  


When a teacher assigns homework, she makes some big assumptions about students' home lives. Do they have the requisite supplies? A quiet place to study? Supportive parents or guardians who will motivate them to work? Knowledgable guardians who can assist with challenging problems?


But even these questions have significant assumptions underlying them. Do students have a stable family life? Or does the return home in the afternoon bring an increase of stress and anxiety about their family's well-being? Single parents working multiple jobs, for example, may put the "parenting" of young children onto the shoulders of their older siblings. The increased responsibility likely increases the stress experienced by the older child, while simultaneously reducing time for academic study outside of school.


Situations like these are not isolated incidences. In fact, they are common - and increasingly so. Recently released data show that the majority of American public school students are living in poverty. Researchers have also documented that students from low-income families tend to have a chronically higher level of anxiety than their middle- and upper-class peers. This anxiety reduces working memory load, diminishing their ability to utilize and develop higher-order cognitive capacities. And this reduced cognitive growth at early stages in life compounds as young people progress through school. (Thanks to Laura Eakman, graduate student at CU-Boulder, for bringing some of these resources to my attention.)

Read the rest here.
Nevada Places a Bet on School Choice
By Clint Bolick

Nevada recently became the fifth state to enact the nation's most systemic K-12 funding reform: education savings accounts. ESAs allow parents to pull their children out of public schools and put the allotted tax dollars toward an education they prefer. This makes the phrase "school choice" a reality.


Unlike vouchers, which make public dollars available only for private-school tuition, the savings accounts can be used for a range of educational options, for private schools or distance learning, tutoring, computer software, educational therapies, public-school classes and activities, and community college classes. Any money left after graduation can be put toward college. This will give Nevada parents more than $5,000 to work with.


Education savings accounts are an innovation; they harness the capacity of modern technology to deliver high-quality, tailored education to every child in the state. Families can mix and match educational offerings to meet their children's needs and aptitudes, perhaps combining interactive distance learning with a local high-school chemistry lab and a tutor in mathematics.

Read the rest here.
Parents: Take back your schools Teachers: Take back your profession



Going against the 10th Amendment, the federal government started hijacking public education 35 years ago when Congress changed the Department of Education into a cabinet-level position. Even though President Ronald Reagan wanted to abolish the department, it became permanent when the department's first secretary, Utah's Ted Bell, appointed a commission to study our "ailing schools." The commission's report, "A Nation at Risk," claimed "our schools are failing" to keep up with other advanced countries.


Following a long-established pattern of states specifying subject matter content, the commission recommended: "(a) 4 years of English; (b) 3 years of mathematics; (c) 3 years of science; (d) 3 years of social studies; and (e) one-half year of computer science for high school students. The commission also recommended that students work toward proficiency in a foreign language starting in the elementary grades." The commission did not mention art, music, health, physical education, electronics, woodworking, mechanics, agriculture or many other subjects.


Read the rest here.
How New Orleans Made Charter Schools Work
Last year 2.9 million children attended 6,700 charter schools in America-public schools independent of districts and free of many bureaucratic constraints. Since charters were invented in Minnesota twenty-four years ago, they have become the subject of intense battles between supporters and detractors.

Supporters point out that charters receive 28 percent less money per child, on average, but still have higher graduation rates and send a higher percentage of graduates to college than traditional public schools with similar demographics. Detractors counter that charters often push out the hardest-to-teach students, and, citing a national study published in 2013 by Stanford University's Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), they report charters barely, on average, outperform those traditional schools on standardized tests.

Read the rest here.
Agile Learning Centers is Fundraising to Open an ALC in Oahu!
Agile Learning Center in Manhattan

A new Agile Learning Center is being organized in Hawaii by an AERO member. They have started a fundraising campaign. 

What is an Agile Learning Center? 

Agile Learning Centers are an educational model that creates fun, intelligent, magical communities. Communities of happy, actualized people with a deep connection to place and full access to a globalized network of other communities that share resources, practices, tools, stories, and experiences, an upward spiral of human potential.


To read more or donate go here!
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.  

June 28th, 2015
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