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Issue # 17
    July 12, 2012

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

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PAA Action Alert


Ask a friend or a group you know to endorse the National Resolution against High-Stakes Testing

"I'm writing to ask you to help curb the pervasive high-stakes testing that is damaging our children's education. Please join me in endorsing the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing. (I attach a copy of it.)  


"The National Resolution sends a message from parents, teachers and communities. High-stakes standardized testing has narrowed curriculum, turned schooling into test prep, and eaten up far too much time. But it has not improved real student learning. The Resolution calls on federal, state and local officials and policymakers to stop the expansion of high-stakes testing around the country."

That's the beginning of a sample letter PAA helped write to help YOU promote the National Resolution.

We make it easy for you to promote this important campaign, with:

Sample letters to friends and others:

Sample letters to the editor and op-ed columns

Here are a couple of newly-updated fact sheets from FairTest that can help you make your case.
What can you do?

Start sending out your letters today!

Update on last week's Arne Duncan report card action:
Our last Action Alert asked you to vote in the conservative EdNext website reader poll asking the public to grade Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

There wasn't a lot of time left for the poll but we may have had an impact on Duncan's final grade: it went down... from 8% giving him an "A" or "B" to only 6%, and from 70% giving him an "F" to 72.4%.

President Obama, no "social promotion" for Secretary Duncan!



PAA News


PAAers speak out


Becky Malone, leader of PAA Chicago affiliate 19th Ward Parents, wrote a great editorial which was published in today's Chicago Sun-Times. She describes in infuriating detail the disrespect that parents and others experience every time they go to a Chicago Board of Education meeting to speak up for their children's education.

Read Becky's full editorial on the PAA site. Then check out Diane Ravitch's blog post, "Chicago Parents are Sick and Tired of their School Board."

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

Parents changing Florida Governor's mind on testing?

Florida Governor Rick Scott declared last week that there might be "too much testing" in the state. He said that a lot of parents have been complaining to his administration about the Florida state tests and that there would be some changes.

Kudos to PAA's Rita Solnet, founder of Testing is not Teaching, whose hard work has helped get several large Florida school districts to sign on to the National Resolution. We know she'll be working to make sure the governor's changes are the right ones.

Budget testimony in Connecticut

PAA member Wendy Lecker will present testimony on full funding of schools at the state level today at a state budget committee hearing in Bridgeport.

Her written testimony should prove useful for anyone struggling with school funding issues on the state level.

Here's one excellent section of Wendy's presentation,
"Basic Building Blocks of an Adequate Education": 

When one looks at school funding reform across this nation, there is a remarkable consensus on what those basic building blocks of an adequate education are. Despite demographic, geographic and economic differences educators, experts and community members across the United States agree on the fundamental resources needed in order to provide every child with a sound, quality education. In fact, in the Kansas school funding case, the court remarked that, on the issue of necessary resources, educators "spoke almost with one voice."


Some of these resources are:


- High quality pre-k

- An adequate number of teachers, adequately trained

- Small class size in k-3

- Extra services for at-risk children

- A challenging curriculum that includes art, gym, world languages and music

- Adequate light, space and well-maintained facilities

- Adequate books, computers, pencils and other instrumentalities of learning

- Expanded learning/enrichment opportunities

- A wide range of extra-curricular activities

- Wraparound services for at-risk children

Some of these inputs were listed in the Horton v. Meskill decision, but as the Connecticut Supreme Court recently noted educational inputs will change over time because the meaning of a "constitutionally adequate public education is not a static concept removed from the demands of an evolving world." 


It is inexcusable that schools in Connecticut, one of the richest states, cannot afford to pay for substitutes, art classes, light bulbs, copy paper and textbooks, let alone social workers, AP courses, preschool, services for English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and more.


It is also inexcusable to punish our students and teachers in places like Bridgeport and New London for failing to meet mandated academic targets without first ensuring that all our students and teachers have these basic tools to learn.

PAA Blog Highlights

In addition to the blog post already mentioned in this issue is this new post on the PAA blog this week:
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.