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Issue: # 1
March 21, 2012

Welcome to this first new and improved (we hope!) issue of Parents Across America's newsletter. Comments? Suggestions? Stories? E-mail info@parentsacrossamerica.org.

PAA Action Alert

Many aspects of President Obama's education budget are bad news for public school children. For example, it would divert funds currently used for lower class size to competitive grants promoting boondoggles like school turnarounds, teacher merit pay, and Teach for America.

We created a one-page chart outlining PAA's position on the budget.

What can you do? Contact your Congressional reps and let them know that you have concerns about the budget. Here's what we wrote to Congress

PAA News

Parent trigger defeated in Florida!  

A major victory for our PAA Florida affiliate working with other parent groups when a 20-20 tie in the state legislature denied passage of the so-called "Parent Empowerment Act," a bill that would have allowed a majority of parents at a school to vote to shut it down and hand operation over to a charter or other private management company. Read more here. 

PAA Internet Forum  

PAA hosted our first internet forum on Feb. 20. Moderated by PAA founding member Andrea Merida from Denver and featuring PAA members Karran Harper Royal from New Orleans and Dora Taylor and Sue Peters from Seattle, the forum attracted over 100 participants who joined us to discuss strategies parents can use to fight corporate education reform. Watch for our next forum date!     

PAA in the media
 "Why Florida's parent trigger bill failed in the state Senate," Washington Post Answer Sheet quotes PAA's Rita Solnet 

 "Parent Unions Seek to Join Policy Debate," Education Week; cites PAA

"A rare break from testing madness," guest post by PAA's Pam Grundy in Washington Post Answer Sheet

"Teacher Evaluations Pose Test for States Wall Street Journal," quotes PAA's Pam Grundy
PAA Blog Highlights
Join Us!

Parents Across America invites existing local or statewide groups who share our overall goals of progressive, positive education reform and more parent input in education policymaking to affiliate with us. The more of us there are, the stronger our voice will be at every level. We are also looking for parents who are interested in forming new chapters of PAA in their states and/or  local communities. Check out what we believe, and if you agree, join with us! Read more here.

PAA Chapter/Affiliate News

Welcome new affiliate! Charleston Area Community Voice for Education is PAA's newest affiliate. For more information contact cvedu20@gmail.com.

From PAA-Seattle 

Last week was the March 1 National Day of Action for Education in Seattle. Parents Across America, Seattle was one of the sponsors of this event. The event included a Teach-In about charter schools given by University of Washington Professor and Rethinking Schools editor Wayne Au. There was a Policy Throwdown - a General Assembly style open discussion of education and charter school issues facilitated by Seattle Public School teacher Jesse Hagopian. We also held a rally in front of the Gates Foundation in Seattle. Read more here.  

From PAA- New Orleans

The town touted by Duncan et al as the prime example of how privatizing our public schools has tbeen a shining success, PAA's Karran Harper Royal, talks to Andrea Merida, another PAA parent in Denver, about the reality behind the myth of school choice. A highly recommended video: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20613374  

From New York

Our affiliate, Class Size Matters, led a battle to persuade the NYC newspapers not to publish the city's confidential and unreliable Teacher Data Reports, based solely on value-added calculations from student test scores. The organization sponsored a petition on change.org that garnered hundreds of signatures; the petition was mentioned in the New York Times and elsewhere. Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of CSM and a PAA co-founder, was interviewed on television, the Wall Street Journal, and the Daily News about how unreliable these reports really are - and how their publication would unfairly tarnish the reputations of countless teachers.
Nevertheless, the data with names attached was posted by all the major dailies, and some even ran stories along with photos, claiming they had identified "NYC's worst teachers." Leonie
pointed out on her blog the scary national implications of this event. Teachers throughout the country may soon experience a similar fate, with their unreliable performance ratings released to the public, as numerically based teacher evaluation systems -- based at least in part on standardized test scores -- are being developed in at least 33 states, as a result of the US Education Department's "Race to the Top" program and NCLB waivers. These unreliable ratings will too be vulnerable to release and publication - and may further damage morale, cause even higher teacher turnover rates and dissuade otherwise dedicated candidates from considering a career as a public school teacher.     

Parents Across America (PAA) is a non-partisan, non-profit grassroots organization that connects parents and activists
from across the U.S. to share ideas and work together  
on improving our nation's public schools.    

PAA is committed to bringing the voice of public school par­ents - and common sense - to local, state, and national education debates.