PAA Logo
PAA Action News
In This Issue
PAA Action Alert
PAA News
Join Us!
PAA Chapter/Affiliate News
PAA Blog Highlights
Join Our List
Join Our Mailing List
Issue # 6
    April 26, 2012

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

E-mail us 

More at

Looking for regular updates on key education stories? Join the PAA News list. Email 


PAA Action Alert


Join the Pineapple Rebellion!     

Sign the National Resolution against High-Stakes Testing!


PAA and our allies raised a powerful challenge to the testing industry this week. First, our co-founder, Leonie Haimson, set off a national firestorm by exposing a nonsensical pineapple story with ridiculous multiple choice questions on her son's New York State language arts exam (more on that below in PAA News).  


Then two days ago we rolled out the National Resolution against High-Stakes Testing. PAA helped write the resolution along with FairTest, Diane Ravitch, and several other groups and individuals, modeled on a Texas resolution that has already been endorsed by 405 Texas school boards.   


The first day the National Resolution was posted, more than 100 organizations and 2000 individuals signed on.  


We encourage organizations and individuals to publicly endorse the National Resolution here, and please urge your school boards to do so as well. If you are a member of a local school council, an ESEA Parent Advisory Council, a school site council, a PTA, or any other school body, please put the National Resolution on the agenda of your next meeting for a vote! Feel free to modify or add to the resolution, as needed, to fit your community's needs and circumstances, but also please endorse this national version.   


PAA members have already reported success in Florida and Texas (see PAA Chapter/Affiliate News below). 


If your school board or other school governance body 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! 

PAA News


Because pineapples don't have sleeves ?

If you spent this weekend chuckling or fuming about a nonsensical standardized test question involving a hare and a talking pineapple, you have PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson to thank. Leonie wrote the blog that started the media storm, highlighted the absurdity of high-stakes standardized tests, and got the question pulled from the New York State language arts exam.

Don't miss the rest of PAA founding member (North Carolina) Pamela Grundy's great blog post about what's now being called "Pineapplegate."

PAA challenges ESEA at USDE

Six PAA members went to Washington for the US Department of Education's Parent Leaders forum last Thursday and Friday and raised a strong challenge to the negative policies that started under the No Child Left Behind Act and are continuing and even worsening under current US Education Secretary Arne Duncan and ESEA.

On Thursday, PAAers Karen Sprowal, Leonie Haimson and Julie Woestehoff delivered packets of PAA position papers on ESEA to the office of every member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. We also met with legislative aides to Senator Patty Murray of Washington and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, both education committee members.

At the forum on Friday, our PAA team took every opportunity to speak out against high-stakes testing, school privatization and "choice," and for real parent engagement in school policies.
You can read more about our visit in this press release. PAA founding member Karran Harper Royal (New Orleans) summed it up this way: "It is my hope that our concerns and feedback will lead to strengthening groups like ours and not to utilizing parent engagement money to fund groups that push privatizing public education. Many parents here want to help improve schools, not close them. We want to define what parent involvement looks like. It's time for the federal government to support policies that strengthen every neighborhood school so that every child gets a top quality education."

PAA-New Orleans founder Karran Harper Royal speaks out at USDE parent forum

PAA(ers) in the media


Don't miss this amazing, powerful blog by PAA founding member Helen Gym (Philadelphia PA) published in Philadelphia Public School Education Notebook: "You're not talking to me when you'll go out of your way to spend $1.4 million for six-week consultants with whom you'll boast of an 'intimate, hand-in-glove' relationship, yet exclude community and public voices till you're ready to drop the bomb. You're not speaking to me when you'll go to any extreme to radically transform 'education delivery,' yet the most basic things parents and staff and students have called for - more teachers in our schools, bilingual counselors, nurses, art and music, librarians, fresh food in the cafeteria, new buildings, and playgrounds - are completely and utterly absent from your 'plan.' "


The Post and Courier (Charleston SC) published an editorial on the problems of privatization and public  accountability by Peter Smyth, co-founder of PAA local affiliate Charleston Community Voice for Education.


"With these laws Gov. Bobby Jindal has sold our kids out for his political aspirations," said Karran Royal Harper, a Louisiana parent activist and education advocate: quote from PAA founding member on via  


On the National Resolution: "Rita Solnet, an education activist from west of Boca Raton, said various national groups and education leaders are waging war against an 'over-emphasis' on high-stakes testing. 'We're spending so much time on test prep and testing,' said the co-founder of a group called Parents Across America" (Southeast Florida Sun-Sentinel). Rita was also quoted in this radio interview.  


Multiple media hits on Pineapplegate and PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson recapped here.  


PAA's participation in crafting the National Resolution was mentioned on Diane Ravitch's Bridging Differences blog and Valerie Strauss's Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, which also quoted PAA's Pamela Grundy.   


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

Early success with school board sign-on to National Resolution!
  • We reported last week that CoalitionSAUS (Strengthen Austin Urban Schools) requested Austin ISD School Board to introduce and approve an anti-testing resolution; PAA member Lorie Barzano reports that they passed the resolution this week! Congrats, Lorie! 
  • Great work by PAA-Florida founder Rita Solnet, too. She reports that the Palm Beach County Florida School Board voted unanimously to endorse the National Resolution. Rita reports: "Significant in that we have a brave and brand new Superintendent willing to make a statement and be the first District (in Florida). Significant in that we represent the 11th largest district in the nation and we are an A-Rated District -- consistently ranked "A" for seven
    years. Significant in that we are a finalist in the Broad Prize this year (one of four finalists.)"     
  • PAA member Karen Miller worked with her school district, Cypress Fairbanks (Texas), 108,000 students, to support a modified Texas testing resolution; it is the largest Texas district to sign on to date. 
Watch PAA founding member and Denver school board member Andrea Merida urge the board - forcefully - about why they should reject a Gates foundation grant:  "Why are the Denver Public Schools accepting money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, especially when Gates also funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)? Gates is paying for ALEC to run anti-union, anti-immigrant, and anti-middle class legislation all over the country. Is this okay with you, Denver?"

PAA Indiana member Doug Martin wrote this in-depth expose of Gulen charter schools in his state.

PAA member Susan Barrett reports that Oregon Save Our Schools is planning a state wide Day of Action on May 31st to demand real revenue reform in the state.   
PAA Blog Highlights


In addition to the blog posts mentioned above, new posts include"NSBA President's letter to Obama: please change direction!" 

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.