PAA Action News
Nov. 1, 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

Sign the petition!

PAA Affiliate Class Size Matters is collecting signatures on a petition calling on the NY State Attorney General & Board of Regents to withhold confidential NYC student information from being disclosed to a private corporation, which intends to create a "data store" and share it with for-profit companies to help them develop and market their learning products, without parental consent.  

PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, leader of CSM, reports: "Last weekend I visited the "camp" of this Gates-funded corporation, called the Shared Learning Collaborative, and all my worst fears were confirmed:  they intend to share the name, address, grades, test scores, disability status and IEP, as well as attendance and disciplinary records of all NYC students with these companies, under the direction of DOE.  For more on this, see our blog here.  I truly believe this plan represents the most serious risk to our children's privacy in the nation's history." 

Please take a moment and sign the petition now! Thank you!

PAA News

PAA founder named "Parent Hero of Education" by Diane Ravitch

Congratulations to Sharon Higgins, PAA founding member from Oakland, CA, for being named a "Parent Hero of Education" by Diane Ravitch.   

Diane writes:

As a parent of children in the local public schools, Higgins was upset by the Broad Foundation's takeover of her district.One Broad superintendent after another made decisions without consulting anyone who lived in the community.

Then, with the encouragement of the Broad superintendents, charter schools began opening, drawing students and funding away from the public schools.

Sharon Higgins did what she could. She started a website to report on what was happening. One part of her website is devoted to following the mis-steps of Broad superintendents. Another part of her website catalogues "charter school scandals."  

She has taken great interest in the Gulen charter movement.  

She has no funding. She is a public school parent who wants the public to know what is happening and to know who is making decisions that affect their lives and their children without their knowledge or consent.

She is a hero of public education.

Those of us who know Sharon agree - it's a well-deserved honor!

PAAer opposing vouchers in Baton Rouge

PAA-Baton Rouge founder Dawn Collins was featured on WTLA-TV for her testimony opposing school vouchers, already in place in Louisiana:  

"It's not choice, it's a slap in my face," exclaimed mother Dawn Collins, an opponent of the voucher program. "They speak as if they care about my concerns, but simple things like across the board accountability measures, that's a no-brainer. Coming up with policy language that allows a lot of ambiguity as to whether or not they're going to enforce? It's an insult. It's an insult," Collins continued. She said her biggest concern is without a clear, across the board accountability plan for private and public schools she could be sending her child from a failing public school to a failing private school.

You can watch the video here.

New Orleans school board race heats up

The school board race which includes our founding member, Karran Harper Royal, continues to attract attention around the country. Diane Ravitch writes in her blog that her $100 contribution to Karran's campaign resulted in a news story in the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The race was also featured in the national education newspaper, Education Week.

Parent Trigger debate in US News

An essay by Leonie Haimson on the parent trigger and the Won't Back Down movie was the basis for this week's "Debate Club" in US News and World Report. She wrote:
Instead of handing off their public school to private corporation to run, most parents want their neighborhood schools to be improved through smaller classes, less testing, and a well-rounded education. Parents also deserve a real voice in the day-to-day decision-making at the school level. Unfortunately, the parent trigger provides none of the above.   

Everyone agreed with her except for Michelle Rhee and a charter organization staffer...   
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

PAA-Baton Rouge's Dawn Collins has created a web site for her group. Please visit to see what she's done and what PAA-Baton Rouge is doing to support public education in Louisiana!
PAA Blog Highlights

In addition to the blog posts already highlighted in this issue, new articles include: