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Issue # 18
     August 2, 2012

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

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We apologize for the recent unplanned two-week vacation. PAA Action News is back now and packed with extra news to catch you up on PAA's moving and shaking. 


PAA Action Alert


Join PAA's Karran and Helen at the SOS People's Convention this weekend

A year ago, thousands marched in Washington DC under a broiling sun to Save our Schools, showing support for our public schools and schoolteachers and protesting the corporate attack on public education.

This year it's air conditioned! The SOS People's Platform Convention runs from tomorrow, Friday, August 3 to Sunday, August 5. It offers a number of excellent workshops by PAA allies and an opportunity for attendees to contribute their ideas to a people's education platform.

Some of you may be in DC already, and we hope you'll stop by for these Saturday 8/4 workshops with PAA founding members:
  • Saturday at 9:45 am: PAA's Helen Gym joins Stan Karp to talk about "Rethinking Schools: Social Justice in Education."
  • Saturday at 1 pm: PAA's Karran Harper Royal will discuss "How (Some) Leaders get Education Wrong."    
If you can't make it to DC this year, you can follow Karran's  tweets @KHRoyal, watch for video, and join the next SOS chat on August 14th at 9 pm.  

Action Updates: We've seen a lot of action related to PAA Actions of the Week recently. Here are some examples:

Won't Back Down, the parent trigger movie: PAA's Caroline Grannan was quoted in Education Week about a new court ruling that parents could not rescind their signatures from parent trigger law petitions many say were fraudulently obtained. The judge's decision raises a number of questions, as Caroline writes on the PAA blog:   

Will parents sit still for having a charter forced upon their school when they've said they don't want one? Will the parents whose request to rescind their petition signatures was beaten back by Parent Revolution's legal team take that meekly? With an entire school year full of likely drama ahead, the confusion and chaos continue.

Media Matters referred to PAA's parent trigger position paper and quoted Leonie Haimson in an article about the Wall Street Journal's failure to mention the involvement of ALEC (of which WSJ parent company is a member) in writing parent trigger legislation.: "The Journal's treatment of the legislation also cited no criticism of the proposal, which has been described as an effort "to manipulate parents into letting [the charter school lobby] privatize more public schools."

More good news on the National Resolution front:
The American Federation of Teachers unanimously approved a version of the anti-testing Resolution at their convention this week. PAA Houston member Karen Miller shared a letter to the editor by the president of the Texas PTA raising concerns about standardized tests. And then there was this great op-ed by PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, "Tests Don't Assess What Really Matters," published in the New York Times.
PAA News

PAAers doing amazing things!


Where to start? Well, how about Karran Harper Royal, already a school reform star and now a comic book hero?

From "Murky Waters, The Education Debate in New Orleans." Copyright
Reprinted by permission 

Many thanks to Truthout and to the co-authors Adam Bessie and Dan Archer ( for allowing us to reprint this cel. Please check out this interactive version of both of Adam and Dan's funny-but-not-funny comic books about education reform.  

Karran's a screen star, too:
Karran appears in this short film about ALEC and virtual schools.

And check out this video from Karran's Netroots panel, in which she says "We are relentless about telling the truth" about New Orleans schools. Go, Karran!

Jeb Bush and Bull....

Not sure anyone can top that, but here's a try. Jeb Bush characterized PAA founding member Rita Solnet's critique of Florida's departing superintendent as "Complete bull!" Here's what Rita said in the Tampa Bay Times:   


"(The Superintendent) was the guy who was going to come in, execute the most egregious changes possible, be the fall guy and leave."

At a national teachers union conference in Detroit this past week, Solnet said comments were circulating that Robinson was on his way out because former Gov. Jeb Bush wanted to stem criticism against a testing system he helped create and still champions.  "Complete bull," the former governor said in an email Tuesday, and wrote he was sorry Robinson was leaving.

Activists like Solnet said Robinson's resignation will not temper the concerns surrounding too much testing. The selection of Robinson's successor also will be closely watched, Solnet said.

"The problem is, if they think this is going to quell the outcry and the criticism and the issues, it's really not," she said, "unless they put someone in place who is willing to listen."

More PAAers in the News

The Atlanta Journal Constitution's Get Schooled blog
referenced PAA's position paper on the parent trigger.

Diane Ravitch wrote about several PAAers and PAA articles in her blog over the past few couple of weeks including Leonie Haimson on Mayor Bloomberg leaving out  small class size as an option in a survey of what parents want in schools; Sharon Higgins and her work exposing the nation's largest charter school chain, Gulen schools;  and Julie Woestehoff's post about the violence and charter schools (also published in Huffington Post).

Sharon and Julie were also quoted in a Reno, Nevada newspaper about Broad graduate Pedro Martinez, who was just named Reno's schools superintendent.

"According to Higgins, who runs an anti-Broad blog, the academy is focused on turning education into more of a private business, which greatly lessens the voice of parents and teachers."It's being called education reform, but it's really privatization," Higgins said.

There was a nice shout-out to PAA on the CT News Junkie blog in Connecticut, too!
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

Citizens for Public Schools reports on SFC petition results

Our new PAA affiliate in Massachusetts, Citizens for Public Schools,
writes to thank everyone for signing their online petition opposing the Stand for Children ballot question on teacher evaluation and other job issues. The battle ended in a compromise between Stand and the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the biggest Massachusetts teachers union.
You can read CPS's explanation of the compromise here. CPS states: "Stand for Children has become a vehicle for the owners of Walmart and Bain Capital and for other billionaires. They think they know what is best for our children and want to use their money to reshape public education to their liking."  

Vouchers defeated in North Carolina

PAA co-founder Pamela Grundy reports that in North Carolina, PAA members were part of a successful fight against an ALEC-inspired school voucher program. The campaign included both lobbying and opinion pieces.


Pamela wrote a couple of the opinion pieces that helped in this outcome:"A diversion from better public education,"  
was published in the Raleigh News & Observer.
Another, "School vouchers + unethical lobbying = bad policy for N.C." was published in the Charlotte Observer. She says that the voucher legislation was not enacted. But the state legislature passed several other pieces of ALEC-inspired legislation, and the voucher fight is far from over.

PAA-Seattle founder speaks at Labor Fest

PAA co-founder Sharon Higgins spoke on a panel at Labor Fest on July 29th in Seattle. The topic was "What  is Behind the Privatization of Education?" Local guy Bill Gates' name probably came up.  
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.