"No Excuses" Examined
New Video Links
Sugata Mitra, Keynote Speaker from the 2015 AERO Conference
Conference info here. 
Click for Portland AERO Registration is only $225, but will rise after the new year. Workshop proposals now accepted here. 

New! Get Fearless Teaching e Book and Others for Great Last Minute Gift!
We have just created the Fearless Teaching e book! You can order it now from Amazon as a holiday gift and have it instantly. 

We also have a newly updated e book of Nikhil Goyal's One Size Does Not Fit All. His new book with Doubleday will be coming out some time next year;  You can also now get the re-edited original  here

We have several other e books you can get, listed below. 

In his recent view of Fearless Teaching in Lib Ed, educational pioneer David Gribble writes:

"... Grauer simply tells relevant stories, thirty-six of them. The variety is irresistible. The topics include. at one extreme, a visit with a group of students to a tribal village in Tanzania, where they saw him assisting in the slaughter and cooking of a goat, on which they feasted with the villagers and, at the other, simple stories of surf-boarding. Grauer tells how he went with students hither and thither between Israel and Palestine. He describes what he found when he was invited to South Korea to try help the Koreans to take a less prescriptive approach to schooling..........From his choice of story and his own comments Grauer reveals, among other things, an energetic opposition to conventional school organisation, an unqualified approval of  the benefits of tribal cultures, great respect for the natural environment and an opposition to large schools because teachers and students in such schools cannot really get to know one another.  He believes strongly in the value of introducing young people to a variety of experience...." 

Buy the Fearless Teaching E-book here.

You can order the physical book Fearless Teaching directly from AERO   here

We have several other e books you can now get.  Here's a list of them.  
Opt-Out Campaign Must Continue

The parent and teacher campaign to have children opt-out of high-stakes Common Core aligned testing is remarkably successful. In  New York, 20% of students refused to take the high-stakes tests last April. The campaign is so  successful that politicians on national and state levels from both major parties want to diffuse the movement before it can reshape education in the United States, overthrow the testing regime, and break the hold of test companies over school curriculum.

The much-applauded federal  Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) signed by President Obama last week strips away federal authority to impose Common Core or any other curriculum on states or to punish states where students perform poorly on high-stakes testing. However, ESSA does not eliminate federally mandated  standardized testing. In fact, ESSA largely keeps the high-stakes testing regime in place requiring that 95% of students in each state take whatever new exams are created or else a state can lose  Title 1 funding. Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act provides federal financial assistance to local education districts and schools with a large number of children from low-income families. The big shift is that states can make their own tests.

See the whole article and pictures here.
Summerhill Is Being Attacked Again
By Zoe Neill Readhead
Ed: Summerhill won a dramatic fight with the English Department of Education in the late 90's. AERO helped organize support for them and continues to do so. Go to the Summerhill website to see the dramatization of that event that was #1 on BBC the week it was broadcast. The article below was written by Zoe Readhead, A.S. Neill's daughter and current Summerhill head. 

For the last two years or so we at Summerhill have been in correspondence with the Department for Education through our lawyers, the very supportive and capable Mark Stephens and Imogen MacLean who took us through our case in 2000 and in doing so learned probably more about Summerhill than anybody!

The DfE wrote to us saying that they no longer planned to follow our court agreement ratified by the Independent Schools Tribunal at the Royal Courts of Justice in March 2000.

Now I, naively it turns out, thought that an agreement was a mutual thing and that neither party would be able to back out of it without consent from the other party - but there was a clause in the Statement of Intent which says:

Read the whole article and pictures here.
No Escape: A Brief Examination into the No Excuses Philosophy of Education

I spent years demanding that children walk in a silent, straight line exactly twelve inches from the wall. "Stay in your child's box and know your place," I told them whenever they sucked their teeth or rolled their eyes. I woke up at 3 a.m. to check to see if their most recent test scores had been posted online yet. Only now am I beginning to make sense of my time at Scholar Academy
[1], a charter school following the No Excuses movement. No Excuses schools are characterized by extended school days, extra blocks of reading and writing, strict obedience, and a routinized schedule of testing. What follows is an exploration into how this proliferating movement handles data, standardization, and behaviorism to create a school environment where numbers rule and teachers and students suffer.

Read the whole article here.
The Pollarded Child
Ed: This article is by Ian Cummingham, who Founded and directs a remarkable alternative in England, the Self Managed Learning College.

As I look out of my window I can see beautiful, relatively-untouched trees - and also somewhat ugly pollarded trees. I understand that in an urban environment it appears necessary to restrict the growth of trees in certain locations - for example close to houses. But it always seems a shame.

It seemed to me an obvious metaphor for how children are often treated in school - the equivalent of pollarding. Cutting off natural growth.

Examples of what has been said to some of the students in our College by past school teachers include:

'You're no good at art' - CHOP

'Give up trying to learn an instrument; you're not musical' - CHOP

'You've failed at maths' - CHOP

Each labeling of the young person chops off an opportunity for learning and growth.

The worst example I recollect is
'You're stupid, Jason' - a BIG CHOP

See the whole story pictures and video 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 a year end donation to AERO to help support our work. Thanks!