AERO E-News 27.05.2010

Some items from AERO’s E-newsletter 27.05.2010

College Without High School: A Teenager’s Guide to Skipping High School and Going to College (BOOK) By Blake Boles

High school can be boring. High school curriculum can be frustrating and out of touch.

So what is the answer for young people whose creativity, bright ideas, and boundless energy are being stifled in that over-scheduled and grade-driven environment?

What would you do if you could go to college without going to high school? Would you travel abroad, spend late nights writing a novel, volunteer in an emergency room, or build your own company? What dreams would you be pursuing right now?

College Without High School shows how independent teens can self-design their high school education by becoming unschooled. Students begin by defining their goals and dreams and then pursue them through a combination of meaningful and engaging adventures.

It is possible to pursue your dreams, and gain admission to any college of your choice.

Boles shows how to fulfill college admission requirements by proving five preparatory results: intellectual passion, leadership, logical reasoning, background knowledge, and the capacity for structured learning. He then offers several suggestions for life-changing, confidence-building adventures that will demonstrate those results.

This intriguing approach to following your dreams and doing college prep on your own terms will be welcomed by students (and their parents).

Order today at:
Blake Boles has worked extensively with teens outside the traditional high school environment. He designs and leads innovative trips through Unschool Adventures. He has worked in a variety of fields, and holds a self-designed BA in education theory from the University of California at Berkeley. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

“Words fail me. This is the most inspiring, convincing, and practical case for self-directed learning that I’ve seen in many years. Mr. Boles draws on time management principles from the business world and on his own adventure-packed youth to map out a brilliantly simple way that people can live life to the fullest while also preparing masterfully for admission to college. If you believe, as I do, that our time on earth is a grand gift not to be squandered, then buy this book for all the teenagers you love, and watch as all manner of quests, discoveries, inventions, and miracles emerge.”
Grace Llewellyn, author of The Teenage Liberation Handbook: how to quit school and get a real life and education

“Mr. Boles has much to say worth thinking about and the reader will be grateful for how he says it, in clear, forceful prose uncluttered with the jargon of academia. A fresh new voice on the school scene. You won’t regret spending time with this book.”
John Taylor Gatto, author of Dumbing Us Down, The Underground History of American Education, and Weapons of Mass Instruction

 Order today at:

Diane Ravitch: Just Say No to the Race to the Top by Diane Ravitch (Bridging Differences blog on

Bridging Differences Blog:

Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch have found themselves at odds on policy over the years, but they share a passion for improving schools. Bridging Differences will offer their insights on what matters most in education.

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University. Ravitch has written or edited more than twenty books, including The Language Police, The Great School Wars, The Troubled Crusade, The American Reader, The English Reader, and Left Back. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Dear Deborah,

As I have traveled the country, from Boston to Los Angeles and points in between, I have met thousands of teachers who work in our nation’s public schools. The overwhelming mood is one of demoralization, and, in some cases, despair. They thought that President Obama would break free from the test-based accountability of No Child Left Behind, and now they realize that he plans to apply even tougher penalties based on test scores. Many of them know how phony the tests are—even Secretary Arne Duncan has said that the current generation of state tests are bad—yet the fate of teachers will now rest on these same inadequate tests.
As I listened to teachers and principals, I concluded that states and districts should not participate in the Race to the Top. It might better be called the Race to Nowhere, or as some have dubbed it, the Race to the Trough or the Dash to the Cash.

Here are my top 10 reasons for saying no:

1. The money that states win cannot plug budget gaps, but must be applied to meeting the requirements of the Race.

2. The Race demands that states evaluate teachers by their students’ test scores. Some states are legislating that 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation be based on student scores. There is no basis in research or science for 50 percent or 20 percent or any other number. Of course, supervisors should take test scores into account when evaluating teachers, but they should not be required to use a fixed percentage, determined arbitrarily by legislators.

3. The issue of how to evaluate teachers should be resolved by professional associations, working in concert, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Education, and other professional groups. The state legislatures do not determine how other professionals should be evaluated; they don’t know. Nor do they know how teachers should be evaluated. Why doesn’t the U.S. Department of Education convene the leading professional organizations and give them a grant to design the ideal method of evaluating teacher performance? Why should such an important issue be determined by political negotiation rather than by professional standards?

Read more at:

Herbert Kohl: Some Suggestions for Educational Reform (BLOG)

I suggest we replace the Race to the Top with a Race to Equity, and find a way to introduce Opportunity to Learn articles into the ESEA reauthoirization.

Herbert Kohl

During the last attempt to rework ESEA I worked with Senator Paul Wellstone on building Opportunity to Learn ideas into ESEA. Let me explain our thinking then, which I think might be useful as progressives consider what specific suggestions to make this time through.
When considering school failure, consideration must be given to the situation and circumstances under which children learn. Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequalitiesdramatically documents the lack of opportunity presented to many poor children. Taking off from the, we raised the issue of how to negate those inequalities. The question that droves this analysis was: Do all children have the same opportunities to learn? We were careful to avoid the question of poverty, family background, etc., because we wanted to make strictly educational arguments. We wanted to focus specifically on the conditions of schooling and make the opportunity to learn an equity issue. In this context we wanted to create a series of measures of equity, amongst which were:
– What are the facilities necessary to promote equitable learning?
– What is an equitable ratio of students to teachers?
– What is the range and scope of a learning program that promotes equitable learning – this would include the arts, opportunity for athletics and cultural learning, advanced placement courses, science labs?
-What are the credentials teachers are expected to have to produce excellence in learning?
-What kind of wages and conditions of work contribute to educational opportunity for children?
-What kinds of supplies and equipment must all school have access to (text books, computers, etc.)?
-What kind of facilities should house an equitable learning environment for all children?
-What kind of standards and measures should be used to measure a school’s effectiveness as an equitable learning institution?
-What role should parents and community organizations play to ensure equitable schools in their communities?

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Make Your Voice Heard: Discover Democratic Education (VIDEO)
Watch this incredible two minute video from the Institute for Democratic Education in America!

IDEA will be presenting at this year’s AERO conference.  Follow the link above for more information.

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