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 # 10
    May 24, 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


Ask Arne 


Here's your chance to ask that question that's always on the tip of your tongue when you listen our nation's Secretary of Education.  


The setting will be a June 4 forum hosted by Philanthropy New York, a professional community of philanthropic foundations based in the New York City region.  


Duncan will be joined by NY State Education Commissioner John B. King and NYC Chancellor Dennis Walcott for a discussion about the intersections of national, state and local reform and the role that philanthropy can play.

The group is inviting our questions (fill yours in after the other comments here.) You may recognize some PAA members who have already submitted theirs.  


A good place to start might be asking why billionaire philanthropists seem to have so much more power over school policy than parents or local school boards, even though many of their ideas are not scientifically sound or effective.   


Here are some more ideas from the PAA blog. 




A more formal way to ask Arne is to provide input on the new Race to the Top district-level proposal, a nearly $400 million competition that invites school districts to create plans for individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career. The proposed 2012 program criteria invites applications from districts or groups of districts serving at least 2,500 students with 40 percent or more qualifying for free or reduced price lunch. Districts will choose to apply for funding to support learning strategies that personalize education in all or a set of schools, within specific grade levels, or select subjects. Eligibility, as outlined in the proposed criteria, will be determined by a district's demonstrated commitment to RTT's four core reform areas. Public Comment ends June 8. 

USDE is also inviting public comment through June 19 on a vision document for reforming the teaching profession . 



PAA-Seattle co-founder  Dora Taylor asks us to take a minute to vote NO on charter schools in Washington State. Dora and other activists in Washington have successfully prevented passage of charter school laws in pro-charter Bill Gates's home state.  


Here's Dora's new blog post on a (no doubt well-funded) effort to get the question on the November ballot.  But  as of this writing, the NO votes were ahead. 


PAA News


PAA members help plan USDE parent outreach programs

Over the past couple of weeks, PAA members Rita Solnet, Karran Harper Royal, and Lorie Barzano have been participating in telephone conferences with staff from the US Department of Education's parent outreach division to work on the next "parent leaders" meetings. Early agreements include: 
  1. Parents should be involved in planning the meetings,
  2. Meetings should be held out around the country,
  3. The agendas should be set from the ground up.
Another positive outcomes is an agreement to use the term "parent empowerment" instead of parent engagement or involvement when talking about the goal of these efforts, which should be to empower parents to advocate for their children.
At the April 20 USDE Parent Leaders Forum: PAA's Karran Harper Royal, Rita Solnet, Julie Woestehoff, Lorie Barzano

More PAA(ers) in the news


*With some help from PAA, Education Week exposes some of Students First's sneaky tactics in the article, "Relationships between advocacy groups, unions uneasy."   

Ric Brown, a professor at the Pratt Institute of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, in New York City, said that while signing an unrelated petition on the website, the site presented him with a petition supporting higher pay for teachers, which he also signed. Only on closer inspection, he said, did he see that the petition was sponsored by StudentsFirst, whose policy goals he eschews.

"It was very deceptive," Mr. Brown said. "It would be very easy to collect a lot of members this way."   


*Ken Bernstein re-posts a great blog by PAA's Rita Solnet on his Daily Kos page: A personal perspective on education statistics in Florida.    


*PAA is mentioned in Nancy Flanagan's Education Week blog, "Up and Coming: Who's doing the real work in education?"    


*PAA's response to House hearing testimony on "parent engagement" popped up on Google News via the Keystone State Education Coalition.  

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.


Denver CO 
  PAA co-founder Andrea Merida reports that Denver now has its own "erasergate."

Sources confirmed the analysis of DPS test results included an examination of erasure marks on student answer sheets. Results showed two schools far exceeded district averages in the number of wrong answers erased and replaced with correct responses. 
The Colorado Department of Education, though its legal counsel, the state Attorney General's office, has hired a New York-based consulting firm to assist in the investigation. DPS is footing the bill. The same firm, Alvarez & Marsal, was hired in March to look into similar concerns in the Washington D.C. public schools. 

You can read more in the Colorado "Education News."   


PAA: Seattle

PAA co-founder Dora Taylor reminds us that PAA Seattle is sponsoring a forum titled Moving Forward in Public Education: Ideas That Work next Friday.
Questions that will be raised will include  
What does work in education?  
What do at-risk kids need from their schools? 
What do educators working in our classrooms need in order to be successful?  
What are some of the greatest obstacles to educating our children in public schools?  
What are some of the success stories? 

And the tag line is: It's time to hear from the educators about what really works in education. 


More here. 

PAA Blog Highlights

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.