Diane Ravitch: "The best parent organization in the United States today is Parents Across America."
We were thrilled to read those words on Diane Ravitch's blog this week. She was highlighting PAA and our members' roles in exposing recent testing scandals (see next story).
Diane wrote: "One important lesson to be learned from this episode is that parents can be powerful. Parents have the freedom that teachers don't have to call out bad test items like this one, which was blatantly untrue. If a teacher called a press conference or put out a statement blasting a test item, the teacher might be fired for revealing what was on the test. Parents are not bound to remain silent. And parents should not remain silent."
Let's heed those words. Help get the truth out about standardized testing and stand up for teachers!
Finally, let's give back to Diane for all she does for parents and our children's education: make a donation in honor of her "Hero in Education" Award from FairTest. Here's how.
More PAA(ers) in the news
|Julie Woestehoff and charter school propaganda question|
Another testing scandal was exposed this week, as mentioned above, this time by PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, head of PAA's Chicago affiliate PURE.
A teacher sent Julie a screenshot of a standardized test question that the Scantron Company used in quarterly reading comprehension tests given to Chicago Public School students. Looking like a factual passage -- with a pie chart and bullet points -- the passage said that charter schools were "open to all students," "showing improvement in student achievement" and "playing an important role in reforming education across the country."
The passage also stated that "Multimillionaire Charles Mendel sends his children to a charter school because he believes that charter schools provide the highest-quality education."
The thing is, there is no such person, and the other claims about charter schools are at least highly debatable if not outright fiction.
Julie complained to Scantron that the question was no more than pro-charter propaganda. The Chicago Sun-Times got into the act and soon the company agreed to pull the question from any future tests. But we all know that there are more bad questions out there. As testing companies demand more secrecy, it will be harder to monitor them.
This is why we need a parental opt out right and more test transparency. You can read the whole story here.
"Enough is enough"
PAA put out a press release expressing our concern about major testing scandals uncovered by two of our members within just a few short weeks. Here's a quote:
"Enough is enough," said Pamela Grundy, a third PAA co-founder who helped lead a parent revolt against an expansion of high-stakes testing in Charlotte, North Carolina. "Parents need to stand up and be heard. Legislators work for us, not for the testing companies. We need to let them know how frustrated we are with this unproductive focus on high-stakes testing, and demand that they listen to parents as they devise a more sensible approach to improving our nation's schools."
Read the full release here.
Open Letter to President Obama on class size
Last week Mitt Romney stated that class size didn't matter. The Obama/Biden campaign decided to ask what we thought about that. You can answer them here.
As you can imagine, PAA co-founder Leonie Hainson, head of NYC's Class Size Matters, had more to say:
Do you really want to know what I think? President Obama, you do appear to be a thoughtful man. If you disagree with what Romney said, you should rein in your own Education Secretary and ask him to take back his erroneous statements on the subject. Even more importantly, if you respect the priorities of parents and teachers as well as the best education research, you will immediately restore the $620 million in your budget that districts can use for class size reduction....
And perhaps you should consider taking a few minutes out of your busy schedule to speak to teachers and parents as well, about what they think about the importance of smaller classes, as opposed to the wrongheaded education policies pursued by your administration.
You can read the rest of her letter here
On the radio with Susan Barrett
PAA Oregon member Susan Barrett was recently a guest on a special talk radio segment called "Dying for an Education with Susan Barrett."
She got in a plug for PAA as well as some good points about key education issues like the Common Core and charter schools.
She was also promoting today's Oregon Save Our Schools Action Day.
Here's a quote from her blog on the subject:
Over the past few years, our elementary class sizes have increased by 19%, our high school class sizes have increased by over 28%, and our school districts in Oregon have chopped away at their days, with one district cutting a total of 15 days this year! Music, art, libraries, shop, and many sports, once a part of public school education, are now only available to some, usually through fundraising. These are OUR children, OUR schools, OUR future. As frustrated and tired as I am, I won't give up. This is too important.