Meet the founders:
Caroline Grannan, PAA's Parent Trigger expert, got her start in education reform research more than a decade ago. Her first focus was Edison Schools, Inc., a for-profit, NASDAQ-traded charter management company that claimed to bring "the efficiencies of the private sector" to public education.
Back in 2001, the San Francisco school board became dissatisfied with its Edison school, and began moving to end the contract. The company fought back, creating a national furor that maligned the San Francisco school board members.
Caroline and fellow parent activist Dana Woldow began to scrutinize Edison's record. They soon learned that the schools had unusually high costs, produced subpar results, and pushed out the most challenged students. But despite these failings, editorial pages around the country regularly hailed Edison as a solution to "failing" public schools, reprinting the company's inflated claims without checking them out.
These shortcomings eventually sank the company, which now exists as a consultant in a few locales. Caroline, the mother of two public school students, kept researching and reporting.
California's parent trigger law, passed in 2010, caught her eye early on. The organization Parent Revolution, founded by charter school mogul Steve Barr and funded by the heavy-hitting Broad, Gates and Walton foundations, was behind the legislation. Parent Revolution announced that it would be targeting schools in San Francisco, putting Caroline on her guard. (It has not actually materialized in San Francisco.)
Caroline followed the first parent trigger effort in Compton, near Los Angeles, charting the way that Parent Revolution hired paid signature-collectors in a furtive process which led to an eruption of discontent once parents learned that their signatures were being used not simply to improve their school, but to replace it with a charter. Her blow-by-blow reporting of this story, and that of a second Parent Revolution effort in Adelanto, California, has provided an invaluable correction to inflated claims about the "parent power" that parent trigger supporters claim the legislation will unleash.
With both of her children now in college, Caroline works as a freelance editor and does grantwriting for nonprofits. She would like to see a time when organizations like Parents Across America "don't have to put our energy into combating destructive forces," and can just focus on improving schools. But until that day comes, she plans to keep on researching and informing.
"Just getting the truth out when lies are flying through the air, just getting that out is a challenge and that's what I try to do," she says.
From Austin TX affiliate Coalition SAUS
Some of our members obtained tickets and attended a pre-screening of "Won't Back Down" movie. Leader Lorie Barzano's review is here.
The photo (above), shows Coalition SAUS parents sitting front and center in second row, but was taken by the Texas Charter School Association at the screening and posted as part of the top story in their newsletter this week...with the caption..."parents attend an advance screening of "Won't Back Down" in support of charter schools."
Lorie comments, "We're still laughing about that...with the three of us Coaltion SAUS parents, front and center, who definitely do not (and quite vocally in the community) do not support the privatization of public education through the charter school movement."
PAA affiliate Oregon SOS fighting for fair school funding
Oregon SOS leader Susan Barrett reports, "We have just submitted legislative concepts related to: More Funding, More Data Privacy, More REAL Local Control, and LESS Testing. (We haven't exactly made friends in the legislature due to our outspoken nature, but will see what we can do.)
"We are also in a coalition with many others to do a mass mobilization on 11/3, The umbrella is austerity, but with a focus on public education, the massive cuts, and the need to focus on the priorities of the people.
"We are also in a coalition with many others for something very Oregon specific - two measures - one to VOTE NO on, one YES. These relate to millionaire tax breaks and something called the corporate kicker.
"We are giving a workshop on October 20th at the NWTSJ conference on changes in Oregon Education Policy and What we Can Do about It. This conference is a Rethinking Schools event."
PAA-Florida aligned with twelve coalitions from around the state to draft criteria in what we would like to see in a new Education Commissioner. Shortly after submitting our criteria to the Governor, the Board of Education and to the press, Governor Rick Scott decided to embark on a statewide "listening tour" of education concerns.
Although his meetings are described as "closed meetings," and although the meetings are by invitation only in advance, we believe that the criteria our strong coalition produced, precipitated his uncharacteristic tour and urged him to learn more about education issues from the trenches.
Notice to Governor Rick Scott and the FL Board of Education --
At one time, FL citizens had the right to vote in a new Education Commissioner. That changed under former Governor Jeb Bush. You've mentioned repeatedly the importance of parent 'engagement' and the necessity of including parent voices in education. We agree.
An alliance of Florida parents - representing well over 500,000 voters - from north, central, south and west FL - united to produce criteria for your search. We ask that you accept this criteria for a new Education Commissioner and incorporate it in your search. Thank you.
PAA affiliates to host Jonathan Kozol
From PAA Boston affiliate Citizens for Public Schools:
"Our public school teachers and students are increasingly under siege. Groups like Stand for Children, Michelle Rhee's StudentsFirst and similar phony grassroots organizations have become channels for the billionaire owners of Bain Capital, Walmart and others who think they know what is best for our schoolchildren. These groups invest millions in lobbying and public relations to privatize and reshape public education to their liking.
Citizens for Public Schools has been fighting for excellent and equitable public education for 30 years. As part of this effort, we are delighted to present
Jonathan Kozol and the 30th Anniversary Mary Ann Hardenbergh Lecture
The Memorial Church, Harvard Yard
Cambridge, MA 02138
September 19, 2012, at 7:30 p.m.
PAA Chicago affiliate PURE will co-sponsor a talk by Kozol on September 27th,