PAA Action News
Oct. 25, 2012

Welcome to PAA Action News, the information and action newsletter of Parents Across America, a network of activist parents coming together to strengthen our public schools. If you have questions, comments, suggestions or stories to share, please e-mail us at or visit
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PAA Action Alert

VOTE EARLY! And be sure to vote for a strong, democratic, public education!

Many of you live in states where early voting has begun and where important education issues are on the ballot.

In Washington State, charter schools are once again on the ballot, though voters have rejected them before. Nearly $10 million has been raised to promote the initiative, about 75% coming from Bill Gates, the Waltons and Amazon.  Read more from our founding member Dora Taylor, leader of PAA-Seattle, on Initiative 1240.

In Chicago, PAA affiliates PURE and 19th Ward Parents helped get an elected school board non-binding referendum on the ballot in over half of the city's voting precincts. Currently, the mayor appoints all of the school board members, which has resulted in bad policies and a lack of response to parent and community input. Read more about the campaign here.        

In places where schools board ARE elected, much is at stake. Many communities have funding referenda on the ballot as well. Be sure to learn as much as you can about the candidates and the issues and vote for stronger public education!

Check out the excellent candidate questionnaire PAA-CT put together - details are below in Chapter/Affiliate News!
PAA News

PAA and Karran Harper Royal in the Nation 

"Why are billionaires around the country suddenly interested in campaigns for unpaid positions on the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education?"

This article in The Nation magazine describes the heavy influence of corporate reform donors in the New Orleans school board race, and mentions PAA as well as founding member Karran Harper Royal, a candidate in the race.

PAA New Jersey affiliate protests NCLB waivers

SOS-New Jersey leader Julia Sass Rubin reports that her group, a PAA affiliate, joined with 45 other New Jersey groups in sending a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan protesting the effects of the waivers USDE has granted to the state.

The letter states, "it is quite clear that the NCLB waiver is being used to apply measures that are more damaging than NCLB would have been, particularly to low-income Black and Latino children...., (that it) disproportionately impacts school districts populated by low-income children of color while rewarding selective schools and those populated by wealthier, majority white students, and...excludes low-income communities of color from substantive input in the planning or implementation of the proposed interventions."

The groups' letter received substantial media attention including articles in the Washington Post Answer Sheet blog, the National Journal,
Diane Ravitch's blog, and WHYY's Newsworks.

Great work, Julia and Save Our Schools - NJ!
Leonie Haimson, far left, at press conference with attorney Norm Siegel, center

PAA affiliate Class Size Matters challenges release of confidential student data to private vendors

Last Saturday, PAA New York City affiliate Class Size Matters released a letter to the State Attorney General and the Regents, protesting the unprecedented agreement of NYC and NY State to provide confidential teacher and student data to this data bank without parental consent. 

PAA co-founder and CSM executive director Leonie Haimson explained the importance of this issue: "I don't think it is an overstatement to say this whole project represents perhaps the most serious erosion of privacy in our nation's history."

Media coverage of the press event included the Wall Street Journal/Associated Press, the New York Daily News, and CBS radio.

Also informative and scary is Leonie's report a few days later on a meeting she had with a Gates Foundation Shared Learning Collaborative official. 

We applaud Leonie for her persistent hard work on this issue, which parents need to know a lot more about. We will continue to keep you informed. 

PAA ads run on Won't Back Down promos (look at upper right hand corner!)

DId PAA help discourage parents from going to see the "Won't Back Down" parent trigger movie? We hope so. Leonie points out that WBD had the worst opening of any film in thirty years, and revenues continue to tank, recently amounting to a paltry $39 per screening, despite the hour-long promo on CBS ("Teachers Rock"), major exposure during NBC's Education Nation week, and millions spent on other promotional efforts.  

But WBD is a propaganda film, and ticket sales were never the motivating factor. It's now being shown for free to any parent who can be herded into a theater to experience its ugly message of public school failure and the need for parents to pull the trigger. It's up to us to continue to fight the real campaign behind the movie. 
Join us!

If you share
our overall goals of progressive, positive education reform and more parent input in education policy making, we invite you to affiliate with us if you are an existing group, or to form a new PAA chapter. The more of us there are, the stronger our voice will be at every level. Here's how!
PAA Chapter and Affiliate News

Welcome new affiliate!

We're delighted to add another great affiliate in North Carolina, PAA-Greensboro. Read this blog by leader Khem Irby for her take on charter schools in NC.  We look forward to working with you, Khem, and with SOS-Greensboro!

Watch PAA affiliate SOS-Oregon leader Susan Barrett challenge state funding priorities

Challenging the OEIB - Susan Barrett
Challenging the OEIB - Susan Barrett
Susan reports, "Our Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) has presented a funding plan that a private Education Funding Team prepared with ZERO public input. It includes things like funding new Student Achievement Centers and new kindergarten assessments that will roll out across the state in 2013 (they are choosing from one of 32 vendors for those assessments.) Nothing about lowering class sizes, reopening closed schools, hiring back counselors, librarians, arts, etc.

"The good news is that this is stuff we have been trying to explain to people forever, and now that it is out there, more people are outraged. It is presenting some good organizing opportunities!!"

Other videos of SOS-Oregon presentation are available on their YouTube channel.

PAA-CT testing petition and candidate questionnaire

Wendy Lecker of PAA-Connecticut shares two excellent action pieces that other groups may want to use as models.

One is a localized petition against high-stakes testing based on the National Resolution which PAA helped craft.

The other is an excellent candidate questionnaire on education issues. It's time to get one out if you're going to do it, and PAA-CT has done most of the work for you. Take a look at the responses from legislators they have received so far.

Great job!
PAA Blog Highlights

Watch for new blog posts on our web site,