AERO Conference

Come to AERO's 25th Anniversary Conference!

June 26-29, at LIU/Post, near New York City!

Keynotes will take place in the Lecture Hall at Hillwood Commons

Keynotes will take place in the Lecture Hall at Hillwood Commons

We feel that this is the time for the education revolution, to empower all students, to make learner-centered education possible everywhere. In celebration of AERO's 25th anniversary conference, we will have keynotes and presentations that are connected to our mission "to help create an education revolution to make learner-centered education available to everyone." As always, we will have many workshops that explore and demonstrate effective programs in educational alternatives. This includes any learner-centered approach, such as home education, Montessori education, Waldorf education, democratic Education, progressive education, charter schools, magnet schools, etc. If you would like to join us as an attendee and a presenter! If you are interested in hosting a workshop, see below for instructions on how to submit.

The Long Island University/C.W. Post campus is located at 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville, NY 11548.

AERO was founded in 1989 and this will be our 11th annual conference.

AERO networks all forms of learner-centered educational alternatives. The AERO conference is unlike any other conference you are likely to attend in the USA. Many attendees have described the conference as "life-changing," so you won't want to miss it!

Click here for a brief recap of the 2013 conference. Click here to read what attendees are saying about the conference. Download our printable flyer here (PDF).

Conference Dates

The 2014 AERO conference will run from June 26-29 

Registration & Payments

Lobby of Hillwood Common

Lobby of Hillwood Common

We are currently accepting deposits for AERO's 25th anniversary conference. Placing a deposit will lock you and your group/family in at our early bird pricing. Individual deposits are $50 and can be placed here group/family deposits are $100. Your full conference payment acts as your registration. If you need financial assistance, please call the AERO office at 516-621-2195 or write to to discuss your options.

Place your deposit today to register for AERO conference and reserve the early bird rates:

  • $350/adult $295/adult
  • $275/student $200/students & workshop presenters
  • $175/child $100/child ($50 for each additional child, ages 3-11)

Register for a special package rate (includes your room) that saves you a bundle off your conference fees here.

Use your member code to receive a 10% discount off all conference fees (meals and rooms excluded)! Become a member of AERO today!

Rooms cost only $69/night for a single room and $55/night per person for a double room. Couples may get a double room for $75. Meal plans are not sold in advance, but meals are available on site through LIU dining services at Hillwood Commons. Find out more about both here.

Deposits are nonrefundable. All other conference fees are refundable at a rate of $.75 to every dollar through March 30th. No refunds for any conference fees will be returned after April 1st. Conference attendees should pay off their balances in full by May 30th.

Bringing Others

We are getting there but still need more attendees to make this conference really successful. If you know someone who would like to go and hasn’t registered, they can call our office at 516-621-2195, email, or, if they want, they can register at the rate you paid by going to pay off your balance. 

Keynote Speakers

Some of LIU/Post’s expansive grounds

AERO is proud to present the following lineup (many more to come!) of keynote speakers for our 25th anniversary AERO conference: 

Ron Miller

Ron Miller

Ron Miller

We’re very excited to announce that Ron Miller, one of the leading and most frequently cited pioneers in holistic education, is briefly coming out of retirement to be a keynote speaker at the 25th anniversary AERO conference this June. Ron has always been one of AERO’s strongest supporters since our inception and served as editor of our magazine, Education Revolution, for many years. Ron Miller was involved with diverse educational alternatives from the mid-1980s until 2010, as a teacher, researcher, activist, editor and author.

Ron Miller has written or edited ten books, such as What Are Schools For?Free Schools, Free People: Education and Democracy After the 1960s, and most recently The Self-Organizing Revolution: Common Principles of the Educational Alternatives Movement. Miller established the Bellwether School in Williston, Vermont and he taught at Champlain College and Goddard College in Vermont.

Miller founded two journals, the Holistic Education Review (later renamed Encounter) and Paths of Learning. Since retiring as an educational researcher and activist, Miller has run a bookstore, literary festival, and adult learning program in Woodstock, Vermont. You can find dozens of articles and a complete list of Miller’s books online at

Ron Miller’s talk will be entitled: 1964-2014: A Half Century Since Freedom Schools and How Children Fail. Miller offers a unique and critical perspective on the history and landscape of alternative education in the United States. Miller’s book, Free Schools, Free People, placed democratic, freedom-based schools in an historical context that enabled a more thoughtful and necessary critical analysis of the movement to take place. As schools continue to be founded out of those same theoretical traditions, Miller’s work demonstrates the relevancy of learning from these historical roots to create healthier and more successful alternatives. In the same vein, this talk will help alternative educators learn about the significance and relevancy of the 1960s and what has happened since as it relates to their schools and learning environments today.

Zoë Neill Readhead is the daughter of A. S. Neill and now Principal of Summerhill. She has written and spoken on the school widely in the UK and overseas.

Zoe Neill Readhead

Zoe Neill Readhead

Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy

Lenore Skenazy is “America’s Worst Mom.” (Google it!) The New York City newspaper columnist-turned-reality-TV show host  got that title after letting her 9-year-old son take the subway, alone. In response to the media blowback, she founded the book and blog, “Free-Range Kids” (, which helped launch the anti-helicopter parenting movement. Her feisty belief that our kids are safer and smarter than our culture gives them credit for has landed her on talk shows from Dr. Phil to The View. She has lectured internationally, from Microsoft Headquarters to the Sydney Opera House, and written for everyone from The New York Daily News (for 14 years) to Mad Magazine. Yep. Mad. On her Discovery/TLC International show World’s Worst Mom she helps overprotective parents loosen the reins — a job she now does on her own, through Free-Range House Calls. She lives in New York City with her husband and two teen sons, who are half Free-Range, half Facebook addicts. Then again, so is she. One thing she understands: None of us is a perfect parent — and that’s okay.

Buy Lenore's book, Free Range Kids from AERO on sale here.

Meet Lenore below:

Jerry Mintz

Jerry Mintz

Jerry Mintz has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years. In addition to his seventeen years as a public and independent alternative school principal and teacher, he has also helped found more than fifty public and private alternative schools and organizations. He has lectured and consulted in more than twenty-five countries around the world.

In 1989, he founded the Alternative Education Resource Organization and since then has served as it’s Director. Jerry was the first executive director of the National Coalition of Alternative Community Schools (NCACS), and was a founding member of the International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC).

In addition to several appearances on national radio and TV shows, Jerry’s essays, commentaries, and reviews have appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and magazines including The New York Times, Newsday, Paths of Learning, Green Money Journal, Communities, Saturday Review, Holistic Education Review as well as the anthology Creating Learning Communities (Foundation for Educational Renewal, 2000).

Jerry was Editor-in-Chief for the Handbook of Alternative Education (Macmillan, 1994), and the Almanac of Education Choices (Macmillan/Simon & Schuster, 1995). He is the author of No Homework and Recess All Day: How to Have Freedom and Democracy in Education (AERO, 2003) and is editor of Turning Points: 35 Visionaries in Education Tell Their Own Story (AERO, 2010).

Justo Méndez Arámburu is the founder and executive director of Nuestra Escuela, alongside his wife and Deputy Director, Ana Yris Guzmán Torres. He has a Bachelor Degree in Social Sciences and studied Social Planning and Non Profit Organizations Administration at a Masters level. In Puerto Rico, Justo was awarded the Educator of the Year Recognition by the Legislature and the Sor Isolina Ferré Medal to Excellence in Service to Others. His vision was fundamental in developing the public policy that stands for holistic educational services to youth at risk. Promoter of the Alliance for Alternative Education, Justo has been able to build a strong network that supports alternative education.

Brooklyn Free School Student and Teacher Keynote Panel

Brooklyn Free School

Brooklyn Free School

Seeing Race in Our Community: How Brooklyn Free School Builds Equity in a Democratic School 

Students and staff will share their own personal experiences unpacking race and racism in their free school community and working to build an anti-racist school. 

Brooklyn Free School (BFS) began about eleven years ago, after I wrote an article in the newsletter of my local food coop in Park Slope, Brooklyn, inviting parents to join me in starting a democratic free school. BFS was the first democratic school to open in New York City in 30 years (since the closing of the 15th Street School in 1975). It is a departure from what we have come to expect from schooling and education. BFS is a model of direct democracy, inclusion, diversity and equality. It is at the forefront of working with youth of all ages to take responsibility for their own education and their own community-using a process where all voices can be heard and all count equally, regardless of income, race, ability, age, or gender.

BFS was founded on the principles of A. S. Neill’s Summerhill School in England, which began in 1921, and which was adopted in one form or another by many U.S. schools such as the Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Massachusetts, and the Albany Free School in Albany, New York. The community is composed entirely of parents, students, and educators who believe that freedom and democracy are not just textbook concepts, but a way of living and learning.

BFS is a real, practicing democracy. An all-inclusive democratic system runs many aspects of the day-to-day life of the school, and students are free to pursue their interests for much of the school day, as long as it doesn’t impinge on the rights of others. The school encourages and fosters as much age integration as possible, and there are no compulsory grades, assessments, or homework. Students of all ages are in charge of their own learning and progress and have real power to make decisions about the direction their education is going and how their school community is run. BFS believes that all students should be given the responsibility to make these decisions about their education and school, learning first hand about themselves as learners and how to build a better democracy and a better world.

Ramchandra Das

Ramchandra Das

Ramchandra Das

Ramchandra Das (Chandra Mani Bhusal) was born in 1963. He spent his early childhood years roaming with cattle in his remote home village of Gulmi in Nepal. He left for India at a tender age of 12 and spent days stranded in the streets without shade or food. 

Since his childhood, his life has been an ongoing journey of self-directed learning, perhaps the most challenging aspect of democratic and alternative education. For most of Ramchandra’s life, his only guide, teacher, and ally was his intuition.  He later joined the Indian Army, but he was still searching for knowledge. As a teenager, he roamed India and taught himself Sanskrit and English—an approach in stark contrast to teenagers today. He eventually began teaching Sanskrit and English at various schools. Before that he had worked as a priest in a temple, but he was unsatisfied by the limited beliefs and superstitions.

Deeply motivated by a book by Sri Aurobindo, Ramchandra left everything behind and traveled to the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry, India. The Ashram was an open book of learning opportunities for him and living there supported his growth as a self-directed learner.  After 12 years, he returned to Nepal. The pitiful state of children in the country and how they were taught in undemocratic schools and learning environments urged him to make a change and start his own program. 

Ramchandra bought some land and a mud house with no toilet. He started working with one child at first and, gradually, many underprivileged children started coming. Ramchandra has now opened three centers in Nepal, which serve 170 underprivileged children (mostly orphans) and about 80 adults. The children learn from the different activities of the Ashram. They are provided with everything for a healthy and decent life, and provided a good education in a learner-centered environment based on the integral education of The Mother and Sri Aurobindo.


Workshops and Presentations

Classroom for workshops

Classroom for workshops

Aside from the keynote speakers at the AERO conference, there are dozens of other workshops, presentations, and discussions that will occur on a great variety of issues related to educational alternatives.

*** View our current list of accepted workshops here. ***

If you are interested in presenting a workshop, organizing a discussion or other activity at the upcoming AERO conference, please send us your proposal by February 15th. You can start by sending a paragraph about your proposed presentation. This year we plan to have fewer planned presentations and presenters at the conference so we can have more spontaneous presentations, so send your proposals as soon as possible.

Smart classroom for workshops

Enter your proposal information into this Word document and email the saved file to The full list of workshops at AERO conference will be posted March 1st. Please do not submit PDFs. We need all proposals as a Word document.

School Visits (update 6/8)

It seems that most people will be able to get to the school visit sites on their own in Wednesday the 25th. Some people have cars and can take others. The visits start at noon and will run for a couple of hours. The numbers are low enough to allow up to take names of others who would like to visit. You just need to get there on your own. The three sites are:

  • Brooklyn Free School, 372 Clinton Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238
  • Manhattan Free School AKA Agile Learning Center, 115 East 106th St., Second Floor, New York, NY 10029
  • Pono, 2002 5th Ave, Harlem, NY 10035

Exhibitor/Vendor Tables

"Fishbowl” next to cafeteria

We have a limited number of exhibitor’s display tables available throughout the conference. These will be located in the Fishbowl. a sunken room by the central area of Hillwood Commons, where all keynotes and presentations will be made. The tables the standard six foot size. People can bring their own freestanding displays and signs. If you are interested in having a table at the 25th anniversary AERO Conference, email or call (516) 621-2195. 

AERO Conference Documentary


What is the AERO conference?

Field on LIU campus

Field on LIU campus

The most important activity at AERO conferences is the networking. There have been some very powerful and inspirational keynote speakers such as John Gatto, Riane Eisler, Alfie Kohn, Herb Kohl, Patch Adams, Yaacov Hecht and Sir Ken Robinson. The workshops, presentations and panels are often done by people who would have been keynotes at other conferences, but are also done by grassroots people, who are simple practitioners in educational alternatives, including homeschooling parents. Furthermore, unlike most conferences, AERO always reserves space in every time session for spontaneous workshops that are posted daily.

Here are some comments from former attendees of the AERO conference:

Arboretum walk

Arboretum walk

AERO was by far the most interesting and productive conference I attended last year–which I did as a first-time attendee. I highly encourage those of you who are interested in expanding their conversations about learning beyond traditional classroom and school discussions to consider attending.  You will likely leave with lots of bold new ideas!

-Steve Hargadon

I found the AERO conference an incredibly diverse, divergent and sometimes challenging source of ideas and educational approaches. It can only open your mind.
That’s what I found, anyway.
-Stuart Grauer 
I always feel rejuvenated and empowered every time I get the chance to go to the conference.
-Marc-Alexandre Prud'homme
The AERO conference is where I can talk face to face with people following a similar road to mine in creating opportunities for people to self-direct their learning.  There is no better place to exchange ideas and develop a supportive network for revolutionizing education.
-Carol Nash

Last year was the first AERO conference I attended and it felt like coming home. I met so many people who share perspectives about the need for an education revolution. The sharing of ideas, the gaining of even more knowledge about educational alternatives, and the ability connect with so many people who are out there making real changes made it an amazing and inspiring experience. I can't wait for this year's conference!
-Carolyn Albracht
I attended my first AERO conference last year and it was the first time I felt such a profound sense of belonging to a community of educators. The AERO conference connected me to a wide, passionate and extremely resourceful network of people determined to bring forth a education renaissance around the world. Definitely a stepping stone in my career as an alternative educator.
-Alex Aldarondo
AERO Conference is always paramount to my continued energized work in education which can be summarized in two ways. One, AERO is the one place where I know a vast majority of the diaspora of authentic education alternatives will be represented; it is always refreshing to think about my philosophy and work within the context of Free Schools, Democratic Schools, Unschoolers, Home Schoolers, as well as Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf practitioners, amongst other nuanced approaches to education. Two, the energy and thoughtful reflection always provides me with a much needed “recharging the batteries”, reminding me that I am one small part of a massive global education transformation focused on the common ground of truly student centered learning.
-Kirk Cunningham
I came out of the 2013 AERO conference with many interesting ideas, and one major epiphany.  If I get out of the 2014 conference with a similar loot – it would be well worth my while.
-Amir Notea, Israel, high tech entrepreneur, author    

“I enjoyed and profited greatly from the AERO conference. I was very interested in the concept of democratic schooling and also wanted to explore other “alternatives” such as unschooling, Waldorf and Montessori, and the conference gave a boost in getting more information and understanding of those concepts. The informality and potential for dialogue, both organized and spontaneous, was significant. It was particularly helpful to interact with some of the leaders in the democratic school movement, as well as the “troops on the ground” who try to make it work every day. It’s also gratifying to see people who are taking this idea seriously.”

“I so much appreciated your love, commitment, energy, compassion, thoughtfulness, bravery, and creativity in putting on the conference. It had a huge impact on me and my husband.”

Outdoor eating/meeting space

Outdoor eating/meeting space

“Amazing… to be among like-minded people from around the globe. One could write a book about the characters attending it. The topics discussed (sometimes into the wee hours) were exceptional. Fading into the past, but not from my mind. This portrayed a dream of the world I carry in my heart and soul. Not an impossible dream. May we wake soon to find these dreams a reality for all. Thanks!”

“What a great time… I am still on cloud 9 from the conference. Everything was so positive, sincere, and loving…”

“Thank you for causing a Major Ripple in my life. Thank you for the experience and my awakening.”

“I’d like to thank you all for sharing your energy. It was truly a memorable experience, and I have a feeling that many flowers will bloom from this gathering.”

“The conference was indeed a great event–from which I learned a multitude of both the conceptual and directly practical. I feel extremely fortunate in my life to have been able to experience it.“

“Being there was the high point of my life (other than the birth of my sons) and I will never forget the experience!”

Who should go to the AERO conference?

Typic dorm room

Typic dorm room

Our attendees are from an amazingly wide spectrum. We have had people from every state and dozens of countries.

Our conference has always been friendly to students and children, usually including presentations by and for children and students. Therefore many attendees bring their children and teachers bring groups of their students. Student and children’s rates are discounted. 

There will be child care throughout the conference .

Attendees have been:

  • Dorm room opposite view

    Dorm room opposite view

    Teachers, administrators, parents and students from public and private alternatives
  • People from Democratic, Montessori, Waldorf, higher education alternatives and charter schools
  • Homeschooling families
  • Researchers
  • Mainstream public school personnel interested in change
  • Media
  • Education writers
  • and many others!

Child Care

Child care room

Child care room

We will be providing childcare each day of the conference (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and half of Sunday) for children ages 3-11. Child care is included in the cost of your child's registration fee of $100.  If you need financial assistance for your family to register, email 


We are looking for a handful of superstar volunteers to help out at the conference. This will involve overseeing the meals, helping in the dormitories, working at the registration/conference info table, helping with the bookstore, helping put up signs, childcare, audio/visual, putting together conference packets (info about the hotel, NYC info, brief schedule). If interested, write to Volunteers will receive a conference discount.

Hotel, Meals, & Campus Map

Cafeteria seating

Cafeteria seating

This year’s conference will be held on Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus. The location is just a 45 minute train ride to Manhattan. The address is 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville, NY 11548. We have free WiFi in many locations on campus.

Here’s a link to the campus map. We will be having our keynotes and meals in Hillwood Common, #19. Socializing areas are also there. The dorms are just to the right at #54 and #55. The workshops will be in #21. So the conference is in a pretty compact area.

Indoor lounge space

Indoor lounge space

Lodging for most attendees is conveniently located in the dormitories on the POST/LIU campus, right next to the presentation/commons building and the cafeteria. The cost for a bed in a double room is $55/night and $69/night for a single room. You can sign up for these here. Parking is free.

For parents or school groups with children under 12 we have made special arrangements with the nearby Econolodge and will provide daily transportation to and from the Post/LIU campus. To get the $80 room rate there call (516) 433-3900. Mention that you are going to the AERO conference. Of course all children can attend the conference and we are providing child care for those who need it.

Transportation update (6/8):

Great news! We’ve made arrangement with Stuart’s of Westbuty taxi company that they will transport people from the train and from the Econolodge for just $6 each way. The usual rate is $25. Important note: THEIR COMPANY IS AT THE WESTBURY STOP, one stop before Hicksville. So you would get off at Westbury, not Hicksville. This is actually closer to the Econolodge and the LIU/Post campus.
They request that you call ahead so they will be ready and know the number coming. The taxi number is 516 333-1111. The manager, Tommy’s cell phone is 516 474 6602. You should say that you are from the AERO Conference. I’ll also send you a certificate but it shouldn’t be necessary. You also need to call them for the return trip to the train.

Food at AERO Conference

Meals can be purchased on-site at LIU/Post's Hillwood Cafeteria. The director told us he will work with vegetarians, vegans and those who need gluten-free foods, but you must contact them beforehand with your needs. He also said they would arrange to have sushi. This is all on your own. You can order out or eat out if you want.

Hillwood Café

Located on the first floor of the Hillwood Commons Building, Hillwood Cafe is our largest retail food court on campus where we offer traditional popular concepts such as pizza, grill, made to order salads, entrees, and soup. TOPIO's  Individual slices range from $2.49-3.39 TOPIO’S embraces trusted old world techniques that go back generations: fresh pressed dough for thin crusts, organic tomatoes and a classic blend of Mozzarella and Asiago cheeses. This pizza shop features slices of traditional favorites like traditional cheese, pepperoni, veggie and a daily creation along with insanely delicious Stromboli and calzones, and bread sticks with marinara sauce. Grille Works Combo meal range from $5.99 up depending on what you choose The overall strength of Grille Works lies in its simplicity. Burgers, fries and chicken sandwiches comprise some of the most enjoyable meals in the United States, and these items are the cornerstone of the Grille Works menu. Our daily offerings include grilled, crispy and spicy chicken sandwiches, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken fingers, cheese steaks, mozzarella sticks, veggie burger, French fries and curly fries. Produce Patch  $4.49 up depending on how many toppings you choose The Produce Patch delivers on variety in the form of customization and mix-and-match menu options. The service model has salad “chefs” walk each customer through the build-your-own process. The salad built to order allows the customer to choose from a variety of freshly prepared ingredients. Our daily rotating offerings include two varieties of greens, sixteen toppings and five dressings.

Home Zone $3.69-$6.39

Classic comfort style food is offered form this station such as Roast Turkey, Meatloaf, Chicken Marsala, Mashed Potatoes and fresh vegetables daily.  

Grab n' Go Express encompasses all menu items offered within our existing air screens allowing our customers to select convenient, high-quality offerings. The daily menu offerings include a variety of pre-made sandwiches, salads, fresh cut fruit cups, yogurt parfaits, Sabra Hummus cups, Dannon and Chobani yogurt cups, puddings and whole fruit. F'real $ 3.99 for any flavor shake F'real offers authentic milkshakes, smoothies and frozen cappuccino blended frozen beverages– all made from real ingredients – ice cream, fruit, milk and coffee. Consumers freshly blend our products in a blender. The daily offerings include cookies and cream, mint chocolate chip, peanut butter and of course old favorites like choc, van and strawberry flavors. Kettle Classics Soups Choose from a rotation of our homemade soups or chili & rice which is offered daily.

Meals Update (6/8):

Paul, the director, said he will work with vegetarians, vegans and those who need gluten-free foods, but you must contact them beforehand with your needs. His phone is 516-299-3668.  He also confirmed that they will have sushi.




It is easy to get to the LIU/Post campus by train. If you come by AMTRAK to New York City you end up in Penn Station. On the lower floor in Penn Station is the Long Island Railroad. You would take the train to Hicksville. That train runs every half hour or so. It is a 10-minute taxi ride from there. You could also go to Greenvale, which is slightly closer but that train runs less frequently (about every hour and a half).

If you fly into JFK you can take the monorail to the Long Island Railroad station at Jamaica and take the train from there to Hicksville. It is a short bus or taxi ride from there to the conference

If you fly into LaGuardia Airport you’d need to take a taxi or bus to the Jamaica train station.

If you fly to Newark, New Jersey there are easy busses and trains to Manhattan and Penn Station.

The Long Island Railroad Station at Hicksville is near the Econolodge if you are staying there.

We may be able to provide transportation to the train to NYC from the dorms or the Econolodge.

Update (6/8):

The N20 bus from the Hicksville railroad station leaves at 9:21 AM and should arrive at 9:35 AM at the CW Post campus.

If people in New York City take the 8:14 AM train from Penn Station, which arrives at 9:00 AM, we should be able to take the bus with no problem.
There's also a 8:28 AM train which arrives at 9:16 AM, but that's cutting it close, to catch the 9:21 bus, I think.

You can take a bus or taxi from the Econoledge to the campus:

To take the bus from the Econolodge to CW Post campus walk east on Old Country Road to the first bus stop and take the N24 for 8 minutes getting off at the Hicksville LIRR Station. Alternatively you can walk 1.4 miles east on Duffy avenue to the train station. Then Transfer to the N20 and ride for 17-20 minutes to the campus.

Reserving Books

If you’ve attended the AERO conference before you know that hundreds of books are sold and some titles will be sold out.  Most of the books on our website will be at the conference. If you want particular books reserved you can email us at and we will hold them for you at the conference.

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