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News From People Responding to Membership Renewal AERO Membership Discount for 2 Days

From Ken Danford, North Star and Liberated Learners

We are pretty busy with Liberated Learners these days.  We have about a dozen centers in the network, and one opening in Dover, NH, called BigFish.  There are a few more in the planning stages.

We are consulting with these Starters, and we are mutually supporting each other with all the existing centers.  We do the Webinars (the ad on the AERO website) about once every six weeks, and I also talk to interested people one time, no-charge, about our model, about once per week.  So there is a lot of discussion around spreading the North Star model.
I’m also working on a book.”
“These are our Existing Centers:
The Learning Cooperatives
Erin Flemming writes from Canada
Erin in a graduate of AERO’s Online School Starter Course
We Learn Naturally is celebrating its third year running alternative education programs in Hamilton Ontario.  We have a forest school style recreation program called Learning in the Woods that serves homeschoolers and young children during the week and public school learners in the summer and during school break.
The Barn School is opening this spring, in Burlington, Ontario as a learning center, offering full time learning options for families who wish to use it as a private school. We have a separate residence onsite reserved for guest speaker accommodations so if you are in the area, feel free to reach out!  There seems to be interest in having a similar style center in Hamilton, so we are currently looking for space that could accommodate us in the city.
We’ve also been busy working together with other local educational alternatives to organize the Hamilton Educational Alternatives Conference in Hamilton on January 20th.  This conference is aimed at parents so they can meet some of the educational alternatives available in our city and we have some guest speakers lined up including AERO members Deb O’Rourke and Stephanie Schuler Fages.
Uniting and organizing local educational alternative advocates and participants has been both rewarding and complicated!  I’m learning a lot and I often think of the efforts that must go into the AERO conference!  Best wishes to my fellow AERO members who are committed to choice in education.  I’m so thankful to be on this journey with you!


From Wayne Jennings about Minnesota alternatives:
“Good to maintain contact. Here’s the MN scene:
About 140,000 students are in some type of “at-risk” alternative program, some all day, some for just summers, some just an hour or two a day. They are students labeled dropouts and others based on 10 categories. Many are programs established by the Legislature called Area Learning Centers; these operate year round. Other alternatives include online, substance abuse, etc. Some serve elementary students.. A strong active association exists with several statewide and regional conferences, the MN Assoc. of Alt. Programs. (MAAP) It’s mission: To lead, promote, and support innovative learning experiences. I and others have pushed for innovative approaches and programs rather than being little high schools. I can report some progress on that.
Still, there wouldn’t be the need for such programs if traditional education were not so hide bound and backward.
About 40,000 students attend one of 160 charter schools. They have a state organization: MN Assoc. of Charter Schools (MACS). Perhaps 20 of schools are innovative including a  few I started and contributed services to. I chaired the boards for two of them for 17 years (still continuing with one at age 87). The MN charter statute is quite strong in giving funding and decisions to the schools. Too bad the schools make little use of the purpose of the legislation (try new ideas) and some freedom from regulations and contracts.
The parochial and private school scene has shrunk. Some privates became charter schools, e.g. Southside Family.
I’m close to having the book on schooling done, I’ve worked on for 60 years, most of it collecting stimulating materials. It will be on Amazon about early Feb. Also as an eBook. Chapters: Introduction, Purpose of Schooling, Failure of Traditional Schooling, Near Impossibility of Changing School, New Era We Live in, How children and Youth Learn, Principles of School Transformation, Specific Steps to Transformed Schools, A Deeper Look: Staffing, Facilities, Assessment, Technology. It has 400 footnotes on the page itself (instead at the end of a chapter or in the back of the book) and several hundred items in the bibliography,  wonderful quotes, and materials now long gone from present generations. It’s now being professionally proofed and formatted. AERO is in the book.”

The Western Institute for Social Research (“WISeR”) by John Bilorusky, PhD, WISR President

In 1975, the Western Institute for Social Research (WISR) was founded in part as an attempt to improve on both conventional and alternative higher education as they had evolved into the 1970s. At that time, many educators and students were debating the merits of the university’s role in the community and in social change, and the “relevance” of the curriculum to each individual student.  After 43 years, and given growing income inequality, continued racial injustice, threats to our democracy, and the intensified and narrowing pressures to use education only for career advancement, WISR’s mission and learning methods are more needed and important than ever.[ ]
  • WISR combines theory and practice. All students do active reading, writing, thinking, and discussing while they continue wrestling with specific, practical problems, with the guidance and support of faculty and their fellow students.
  • WISR is intensive and individual. Each student builds, and continually revises, a personal learning plan and works with faculty, other students, and community resource people, on the problems s/he deeply cares about.
  • WISR is a small, multicultural learning community. WISR is designed as a living experiment in cooperation among people of different races, cultures, and personal backgrounds. Active collaboration with others, not competition and distance, lend richness and interest to each person’s learning process.
  • WISR is inquiry-oriented. Learning at WISR builds on the excitement of actively doing one’s own research, growing out of action, experience and observation, and dialogue with others. We aid and support one another to use curiosity, imagination, and critical mindedness, while probing for insights beneath the surface of everyday impressions, and searching for the interconnections between our immediate experiences and the “bigger picture.”
  • WISR focuses on professional study that is also mindful of personal growth and values, along with developing leadership skills for community and/or professional transformation.
  • WISR is dedicated to social change. WISR students and faculty are people committed to changing today’s oppressive patterns of race and gender relations, of wealth and poverty, of extreme power and powerlessness, in peaceful and constructive ways.
  • WISR offers distance learning to all students, as well as the option to meet with faculty and students on site, in advising sessions, seminars, study groups and conferences. All seminars, study groups and conferences are available to students both on site and from a distance by internet and phone access to video and audio conferences with those on site.
  • Most importantly, WISR helps students to build bridges to fulfill their plans for the future. We believe it is important to consciously and continually help students to design learning activities—action projects, research, and writings—that help to build bridges to the student’s desired career and life paths, and oftentimes this includes working toward a more sustainable and just future. We believe that people should not have their visions limited by the definitions of existing jobs and careers, and that they can, and should, be encouraged to be both visionary and realistic in pursuing a life path that makes sense to them. Consequently, WISR’s educational programs are suited for learners with many different types of future goals, including but not limited to: changing careers, pursuing advancement in one’s existing career, becoming more capable and more meaningfully engaged in one’s existing job or career niche, writing books and articles, organizing people and networks for social change, or creating new organizations and programs.
You can sign up for or renew AERO membership here. The please send us an update on your work for the e-news.