John’s Bio

John Harris Loflin was born on April 20, 1943. Being a lifelong resident of Indianapolis, he is a graduate of the Indianapolis Public Schools (#s 75, 28, 8, and Harry E. Wood High School). He was an education major at Purdue and has a graduate degree in alternative education from Indiana University’s nationally acclaimed Alternative Schools Teacher Education Program.

John became interested in non-traditional education in the late 1960s and early 1970s after reading How Children Learn, Summerhill, and Pedagogy of the Oppressed. He’s taught at the middle school, high school, adult, and university levels.  John has presented during conferences on 6 continents and is also published by alternative education and democratic education organizations, and other groups/individuals in South Korea, Spain, Brazil, Turkey, Japan, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Canada, and the US. He has consulted on learning alternatives with public schools in Mumbai, India; Seattle, WA; and, Indianapolis, IN.

Since 1979, John has studied the history of the Indianapolis Public Schools. He is the director of the Charles E. Loflin & Virginia Vornehm-Loflin Center on the History of the Indianapolis Public Schools.

Back in 2000, John met Siri Loescher and Diana Adams, two local education advocates. Siri had brought Stanford’s Dr. Henry Levin’s Accelerated Schools model to Indy. It was during 2001, the time of charter legislation. Along with Siri/Diane, John was a part of the founding of the Charles  A. Tindley Accelerated High School in 2004. John helped found Indy’s SENSE 2003 charter.

He was one of the few invited to the Leadership Summit at the 37th (2007) International Association for Learning Alternatives Conference in Philadelphia. In August 2007, he was on the opening panel of the World Education Forum in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  After the 2007 IDEC John published

He originated the concepts of “reinventing adolescence,” Homo curaos, A Learner’s Bill of Rights, and urban public free schools. While representing the Black & Latino Policy Institute as its director of education and youth issues, he had recommendations for student voice, alternative schools of choice, multiple assessments, and cognitive discipline policies added to Indiana’s 2008 Commission on Disproportionality in Youth Services report. Loflin’s research was used by the National Alternative Education Association in a 2009 report, Exemplary Practices in Alternative Education–America’s first national standards for learning alternatives.  Also in 2009, he was selected to present his concept: “Empowerment and leadership development through student participation in school-related decision-making” at the Men and Women of Color Leadership Conference at Indiana University.

In early 2011, he was selected to present on, “Democratic Education and the African American Community” during the 2nd Democratic Education Symposium in Brooklyn, NY. Selected by Indiana State University’s (ISU) Annual Human Rights Day Committee, he presented his paper, “Self-Actualization, Democratic Education, and Hip Hop Culture: Their Relationship to Reducing the Aggressive Impulse” in April. That same spring, John was chosen as one of 25 educators considered global experts to be a part of the Delphi Study designed by Eylem Korkmaz, (Yildiz Teknik University, Istanbul, Turkey) to create democratic education environments in conventional classrooms. In July of 2011, he presented his paper, “Can democratic education be universalized?” at the 19th International Democratic Education Conference (IDEC) in Devon, England. See more here:

After returning from a spring 2012 20th IDEC in Puerto Rico where he distributed his paper, “I think therefore I am vs. I am because we are: Learner centered education vs. Community centered education,”  John published Resisters, Rejectors, and Ridas: How to make urban schools work for disengaged students and critically conscious teachers, a paper meant to help urban students and their teachers.

In 2013, John received one of the highest forms of validation when he was recognized by the Harry E. Wood High School Alumni Association with the Humanitarian Award and a place in the association’s Hall of Fame.  In 2013 he authored “Local School Councils: Can democracy save the Indianapolis Public Schools?” for Indianapolis City-County Councillor Jose M. Evans.

Also, in the fall of 2013 the same paper he presented at ISU was chosen 1 of 150 papers selected out of 2,910 submitted from 106 nations was given by Jose Evans and him during the London International Conference on Education (2013): Democratic Education and reducing the a. Asked by the organizers of the South African International Conference on Education to present the closing keynote address, John and Jose shared a new version of the B&LPI paper in Pretoria in mid-September of 2014. The paper, “’They say that we are prone to violence, but it’s home sweet home’: The Praxis of Hip Hop, Self-Actualization, and Democratic Education for Addressing the Roots of Violence” was published in 2015 by the peer-reviewed International Journal on Cross-disciplinary Subject in Education: In early 2016, he met with a Multi-Regional delegation from Northern Africa and Europe looking at Strong Cities: Building Community Resilience to Radicalization and Violent Extremism.

John belongs to Indy’s Education-Community Action Team, Parent Power, the Race and Cultural Leadership Network, the Anti-violence Video Committee of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, and chairs the Southeast Working-Class Task Force. He was an education consultant to the National Council on Educating Black Children, the IUPUI School of Ed (SoE) Diverse Perspectives on Families graduate course, and the education “guru” for Indy’s Sunday “Harambee” radio show.

He currently consults SoE Parent-Family-Community program to improve educational opportunities for ESL students.

In November of 2019, he was brought to Rotterdam, NL to present during the SPIOR Islamic organization’s conference on reducing violent extremism in Muslim youth.

During the winter of 2020 at the 1oth Annual International Conference of Education and Social Justice, John presented his analysis with commentary, “Why Black and Latino males don’t go into teaching and what to do about it.”

In February of 2021, John presented his talk, “Advancing the Whole Child concept in light of the global Black Lives Matter movement: Adding “political” to the social, emotional, physical, and cognitive needs of the whole African American child during the Indiana Department of Education’s 3rd Annual Whole Child Summit.

During 2016, with Merry Juerling, John created the Strength-based Learning Plan for special education students based on their uniqueness—promoting authenticity/self-actualization over standardization:

At the 1st Annual South African International Conference on Education in 2014, John was asked to present his Super 6 Urban Education Fundamentals. This outline on how to keep urban children in school and graduating was followed in 2022 by Transformational Community Schools: Advancing the Community Schools model: Increasing its democratization while enabling its decolonization was by John in 2022 in order to return urban families and students back the their traditional public schools and away for privatized forms such as charter schools.

First published in 2017 on his ResearchGate account, an analysis of an education for liberation now has close to 1000 hits from over 55 counties.

At the EUDEC 2021 John presented, “Diversity and Cultural Differences in Democratic Education”

During the 2021 Summerhill IDEC John conducted an on-line interview with Derry Hannam, “Are Democratic Schools Exclusive?”

During the 2022 IDEC, John presented “IDEC & Black Lives Matter.”

A member of the IDEC Diversity and Inclusion Committee since early 2022,  in 2023, John advanced the long-time IDEC Student Centered Education concept to include  Community Centered Education mentioned in 2010 IDEC in the UK and expanded in 2011 to Can democratic education be universalized? IDEC 2011: Past, Present, and Future “I think therefore I am” vs. “I am because we are” Learner-centered vs. Community-centered, and Free Schools vs. Freedom Schools, terms drawn out and explained in Appendix D, pp 29-38:

To validate the importance of including community-centered learning in IDEC’s/EUDEC’s traditional child/student-centered learning framework, in the spring of 2023, due to the leadership of Henning Graner, democratic education advocate and academic, an interview of Justo Méndez Arámburu and Ana Yris Guzmán of the Nuestra Escuela (Our School) by John took place. This unprecedented conversation validated the need for a community-centered learning.

In a Sept. 2023 email to IDEC Diversity and Inclusion Committee, John proposed an unprecedented level of recognition of the distinguished late 1960’s and early 1970’s pioneers of alternative and democratic education: and that the Indianapolis Indiana IDEC contingent brought people of color to 5 straight IDECs, 2009-2013.

Through his Democratic Education Consortium, John is a part of the pro-democracy movement in Indiana’s public schools.

Google “John Harris Loflin” for his on-line publications or go to his website:

Contact him at or 317-998-1339.