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Issue # 7
    May 3, 2012

Information and action for parents coming together to strengthen our public schools. Comments? Suggestions? Stories?  

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PAA Action Alert


Reach out to your school board to endorse the National Resolution against High-Stakes Testing!


Within only a few days of posting, the National Resolution has gained 232 organizational endorsers and nearly 6000 individual signers. But for the movement to have its intended impact, we need to focus on getting school boards, school superintendents, and other education decision makers to endorse it and act on it.

Our PAA member in Houston, Karen Miller, passed on some action step suggestions from the Texas Association of School Administrators, who helped get 400 Texas districts to sign the Texas resolution on which the National Resolution was based:
  • Contact your lawmakers. Send a copy of the resolution (signed by your district if possible) to members of the state education committees and the state House and Senate that represent your district.
  • Reach out to your local chambers of commerce. There's a natural connection here between the education and business communities and it could be very powerful to have the support of local chambers.  
  • Reach out to parents. Let your PTA groups and/or other parent groups know what's going on and encourage them to sign the National Resolution and also to pass their own version of the resolution. (The National PTA sent out this tweet this week: @NationalPTA For state and local units interested in a high stakes testing resolution, here's a resource:  

If your school board or other school group does pass it, please let us know by emailing us at with "National Resolution" in the subject line; thanks!


And spread the word to your networks! It's time to stop the testing madness!   


Honor a public school hero,  

support a heroic organization  


Here's an important way you can keep challenging high-stakes testing and have a great evening at the same time! Attend the celebration when FairTest awards its Deborah W. Meier Hero in Education Award to Diane Ravitch on June 5. If you can't attend, buy a ticket (parents and teachers pay $75) or an ad book greeting, or make a contribution of any size to FairTest.  


PAA News


PAAers at the Mom Congress

PAA founding member Pamela Grundy had a great time at Parenting Magazine's annual Mom Congress, which brings moms from every state to Washington D.C. for seminars and networking.  


Pamela, the 2011 delegate from North Carolina, was back to help mentor the 2012 delegates.  


The delegates heard from a broad range of speakers, including Mark Shriver of Save the Children, U.N. spokesperson Aaron Sherinian and White House chef Sam Kass, but the best part was getting to know each other and learning about the work that this dynamic group of women is doing for schools and children across the country.  


Pamela especially enjoyed trading ideas with Oregon delegate Betsy Tam Salter (pictured here with Pamela), a member of Oregon's Save Our Schools group (a PAA affiliate) and Minnesota delegate Mary Ellen DeBois, a member of Minnesota's dynamic Parents United organization.


Pamela noted that "PAA is famous! - On the last day, one of the other delegates asked to have a picture taken with me, so she could 'tell people back home that I met someone from Parents Across America.' "  

PAA shout-out on SOS March recs

for Teacher Appreciation Week

Check out the suggestions from the SOS March folks for Teacher Appreciation Week, which is coming right up, May 7-11. Among other great ideas, they suggest you volunteer for PAA!  We could use some help organizing our regional areas - do you like to help people network? We also love blogs from our members and friends about how corporate reform is playing our in your state, city or town. And we need PAA members in Iowa - know anyone?  E-mail us at Thanks!

Indiana Gulen connection exposed

The largest operator of charter schools in the US is the Turkish Gulen movement, which seeks to promote Turkish nationalism in its schools, something they fail to note in their promotional materials for parents.

One of our new PAAers, Doug Martin from Indiana, has written two excellent articles (here and here) exposing the connections and secrets of Gulen in his home state. Gulen is probably in your state, too - read and share this cautionary tale.

See related story below.

PAA(ers) in the media


PAA goes international! Our Oakland PAA leader, Sharon Higgins, was quoted in the Turkish media on the Gulen charter school controversy! You can use Google translate to get the gist of the story, but the words "Parents Across America" and "Sharon Higgins" are clear even in the Turkish text.   


PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson was quoted in the New York Times on NY Gov. Cuomo's corporate-leaning, no parent education panel.

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

From Delaware

"Civil war" is brewing in Delaware's education community over charter schools and corporate backed school board candidates, reports PAA member Annalise Marie Ekbladh.

PAA affiliate Communities for Education was the catalyst for debate over the woefully inadequate charter school laws in Delaware that have led to what amounts to a "civil war" on education. A legislative hearing on March 1 was a heated and emotional debate over the issues: re-segregation, the absence of transferring successful innovations into our public schools, the harm that charter schools bring to neighboring public schools, and woefully inadequate oversight by DOE. A Blue Ribbon Commission will address these issues. We can only hope that Communities for Education will be at the table.

In addition, "In recent weeks, a shadowy organization known as the Voices 4 Delaware Education Action Fund has circulated mailers in the Christina and Red Clay school districts attacking certain school board candidates and endorsing others." Voices 4 Education Action Fund is the 501c4 sister of Voices 4 Education funded by the Rodel Foundation.

Visit soon for an update on funding origination and a new petition for transparency in School Board Election funding.

Read about it in the Delaware News Journal here, here and here.  


PAA founding member Sue Peters gives us an update on the Seattle superintendent search: "I was on the community focus group as a representative of PAA and local parents. We had the chance to interview the three finalists and offer feedback - though not a recommendation - to the school board, which made the final decision. It was a fascinating experience.

"Overall, local activist parents influenced the outcome -- for the better.

"Another win in Seattle for parent and community involvement in public education, but we will still have work to do to help this new superintendent Jose Banda navigate our lively district and its varying forces of influence."

Read more here.

PAA Seattle in association with SOS Washington is presenting a forum titled
"Moving Forward in Public Education: Ideas That Work" on Thursday, May 31st at 6:30 PM at Rainier Beach High School Auditorium,
8815 Seward Park Ave. S. Seattle, WA 98118. Says PAA Seattle leader Dora Taylor, "We decided that we wanted an event in the spring and we wanted it to be upbeat and positive. We hope that will draw in parents, teachers, students and concerned citizens from different parts of Seattle."  


Lorie Barzano, leader of PAA affiliate Coalition SAUS reports: "The big activity in Austin this week was our State Board of Education Candidates Forum which we had last evening, and it ran long late and last." She'll report the details in next week's newsletter.  

Here's their press release which is posted on the PAA blog. We encourage our affiliates to reach out to their State Boards and hold them accountable through direct conversation.

PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff joined a panel of local parent activists at a forum sponsored by the DePaul University College of Education and attended by some 100 teachers, students preparing to be teachers, and parent and community members. Julie, pictured below, center, highlighted the importance of the parent voice in the context of the critical need at this time for parents and teachers to have a united front. You can read her blog about the event here

PAA Blog Highlights


In addition to the blog posts mentioned above, new posts include:  


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.