PAA Action News
Oct. 4, 2012

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PAA Action Alert
Check out tonight's SOS webinar:
Thursday, October 4, at 9 pm ET.
Seven days of solidarity in Chicago, tens of thousands marching in the streets, parents shoulder-to-shoulder with teachers, sent a message loud and clear that public schools have powerful supporters who will rise up and challenge even the most well-funded forces of privatization. 

What did they win?
  • "Books on day one." Hard as it is to believe, it has been common for Chicago classrooms not to receive text books for a month or more after the start of classes each year.
  • "Music, art, and language positions, which will continue throughout the contract." The tentative agreement requires that the board will hire more than 600 additional teachers in those areas.
  • "Increased funds for resources for the kids." 
  • "They have to prove the teaching staff has increased diversity."(Ed note: the percent of African-American teachers in Chicago has fallen from 40% in 2000 to 19% in 2011) 
Hear more about how it all came together from teachers who were there.  


PAA News
PAAers on the air

On October 1, 2012, Sharon Higgins, PAA founding member from Oakland, was on a radio show, The Morning Mix,
produced by KPFA. The episode was about the privatization of K-16 public education and Sharon was one of four guests.

The program took place during a fundraiser so the discussion had to accommodate that; Sharon's comments can be heard at at 15:42, 35:25, 49:20 and 52:10 minutes, in case you don't want to listen to the fundraising spiels!

Sharon says, "It was my first time doing a radio show. Other than a couple of tongue stumbles and Chicago coming out of my mouth instead of Colorado at one point, I think I did okay." We agree!
On Oct. 2, PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, of NYC's Class Size Matters, debated Dan Goldhaber on KNPR in Nevada. Please listen to the podcast here.  Also participating was a Las Vegas reporter and deputy superintendent, as well as some great callers, mostly teachers.

Goldhaber, who works at the Gates-funded Center for Education Data and Research in the state of Washington, and predictably enough would like to focus on teacher evaluation instead as a means to improve schools, wrongly claimed the STAR experiment in Tennessee showed that class size mattered only for poor kids. Actually STAR showed ALL students did better in small classes, with poor kids seeing twice the benefit.  
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PAA Chapter/Affiliate News 

Diane Ravitch goes to Austin

School reform icon Diane Ravitch went home to Texas this week and PAA founding members Lorie Barzano and Karen Miller had a great time with her!

From PAA founding member Karen Miller:


When I found out Diane was speaking at the school board/administrators convention, I asked her if she'd extend her stay and she agreed to remain an extra day.  Lorie (Barzano, of PAA affiliate Coalition-SAUS) did a fantastic job with local arrangements, including a parent/teacher/community meeting at a high school in a low income area subject to takeover.  I'll let her describe that wonderful event (see below). We worked closely with the school board/administrators associations as well as the Texas AFT and their local affiliate.


Diane arrived on Saturday afternoon and met with some of the "fighting profs" from UT on issues related to high stakes testing. Read her blog on that meeting here. 


That evening, she met with 40 superintendents for dinner, many of whom are involved with a pilot program in which a select group of high-performing districts - which were chosen to reflect the wide variety of schools in Texas and represent about 250,000 of the state's almost 5 million public school students - will be given flexibility in turn for the opportunity to explore ways to innovate upon current practices, with an emphasis on digital learning  and reducing the number of assessments students take.


Following Diane's keynote speech and very popular book signing, we attended a TASB legislative brunch where the potential next chair of the House public education committee spoke and later met privately with Diane.


After the hugely successful parent event, Diane was interviewed for a documentary film on charter schools.  


Sunday evening was time to celebrate the day with Coalition SAUS at a local BBQ place.


Monday morning Diane squeezed in breakfast with legislators and legislative aides and then the taping of a PBS program with Evan Smith followed by studio audience Q/A.


Diane described her trip to Austin as amazing. We were truly amazed and inspired by her.


From PAA affiliate Coalition-SAUS founder Lorie Barzano:


Coalition SAUS (Strengthen Austin Urban Schools) hosted a wonderful "Community Conversation about Education with Diane Ravitch" on Sunday, September 30th, 2 to 4pm, at Eastside Memorial High School in Austin, TX.


Diane made an inspiring presentation. Five local parent and grassroots organizations followed her presentation with presentations about their groups, the education issues they work on and how people can get involved locally to stop the privatization of public education. Following their presentations, Diane and the groups took questions from the audience and everyone participated in a conversation about where public education currently stands, the privatizing forces challenging it and what we, as parents and community members, can do make public education stronger. It was a thoroughly successful event and everyone who attended felt totally inspired about taking on the profiteers.

Links to media coverage of Diane's visit can be found on the PAA blog.
PAA Blog Highlights
In addition to the blog post mentioned in this newsletter, new posts this week include: