PAA Action News
Dec. 13, 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

Looking for a socially-conscious holiday gift for an active public school parent?
We don't think parents should have to "shop" for a school for their children, but shopping in the PAA gift store can actually help us promote high-quality local schools open to all. Celebrate parent activism with a PAA tote bag that says "Occupy Education Reform" or a PAA t-shirt with the logo "Put the public back in public education." Part of each sale  goes toward supporting PAA's important work. We also appreciate direct donations via our Donate button

Consider submitting "school-to-prison-pipeline" testimony to Senate

Yesterday, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin convened a hearing on the "school-to-prison pipeline," a way of describing the way some school policies and practices may simply push students - particularly low-income students and students of color - out of school and into jail. Zero tolerance policies, school closings, high-stakes testing, and other factors contribute to this devastating situation.


This was an unprecedented hearing, and, unlike the panels of corporate reformers we more often see gathered to share their positions, this time the Senators heard from affected students and grass roots groups that work closely with them.


Those who were not able to be in D.C. for the hearing were invited to submit written testimony, and we've learned that the deadline for submission has been extended to Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:00PM. 


Statements should be emailed to Stephanie Trifone at as soon as possible. Please also cc Scott Roberts,

You can read more about this event and what PAA Chicago affiliate PURE submitted here.
PAA News

PAA Affiliate Save Our Schools NJ founder exposes flaws in charter school study

Last week, New Jersey PAA member Julia Sass Rubin,
a professor of public policy at Rutgers University, published an analysis of the latest CREDO study, which evaluated charter schools in NJ. Her analysis highlighted how incredibly flawed the study was and hinted at the fact that CREDO was an agenda-driven charter cheerleader rather than an objective research organization. 

This point
was picked up by another Save Our Schools NJ member, Darcie Cimarusti, who blogs as Mother Crusader, and who documented CREDO's very obvious pro charter school agenda.
The two triggered a great deal of publicity for this story including Julia's editorial in New Jersey Spotlight, "Credo study of charter schools in NJ leaves many unanswered questions."

According to Julia, the CREDO press release claimed that "New Jersey charter public schools significantly outperform their district school peers," but that that was not even remotely what the CREDO study found.

She notes that "the study looked at a limited sample of charter school students, excluding those most likely to be academically challenged, and still found that only a minority of those students outperformed their traditional public school counterparts, and only for some of the years studied."

The study also failed to take into consideration the differences in severity of a student's language limitations or disability, and that traditional schools serve far more students in these categories.

Julia also raised a concern that CREDO has not released the study's data so that its findings could be reviewed. The study itself was funded by the Walton Foundation, a strong charter school promoter. Julia wrote, "In prior publications, CREDO has made clear that it is not a disinterested research institution. Rather, it has a policy agenda of quality 'school choice' expansion." 

You can read more about who and what is behind the CREDO study (Pearson!) in
Darcie's blog,  Diane Ravitch wrote two blog posts about the study here and here. The story was also reported in the Washington Post and the Huffington Post.

Great work, Julia and Darcie!

PAA founding member Helen Gym speaks at press conference

More on the foundation lobbying complaint filed by PAA affiliate Parents United for Public Education


As we reported last week, Parents United for Public Education, the Philadelphia Home and School Council and the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP filed a complaint with the City ethics board that the activities of the Boston Consulting Group and the William Penn Foundation should constitute lobbying under the city's new lobbying ordinance.  


PAA founding member Helen Gym writes, "We believe it is the first real test of the lobbying law which went into effect in January and was designed to prevent secretive attempts to influence policy, including the School District of Philadelphia.
"We did not make this decision easily or hastily. We requested a thorough legal analysis from the venerable Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia. We arrived at this decision after months of observation and study around the murky activities of the Boston Consulting Group and the wealthy donors who funded them. Just a week before the Philadelphia School District is expected to announce dozens of school closings which will throw our city into turmoil, we believe the public deserves to know the full influence of private money and access on decisions that impact us all.
"Please read and share our post: "The public deserves to know what's happening here" at Parents United's new website."  




PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, of Class Size Matters In New York City, was quoted in a Scripps-Howard News service story about the parent trigger and its use in expanding charter schools:  "Traditional public schools are really a resource of the community, and they have been built from public funds and they are there to serve not just current students but future students in the neighborhood. And once you turn it into a charter school, it stops being a public school that's run with public oversight for the kids in that community."    


PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, of PURE in Chicago, was quoted in the Chicago Tribune on the district's plan to open several new charter schools while it moves to close up to 100 or more neighborhood schools: "It simply makes their argument, 'We have to close schools,' sound ridiculous. It would be one thing if charter schools were vast improvements, but what we know is they're not. Essentially (CPS) is cannibalizing the system to privatize it."  

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

Parents fighting standardized tests in Chicago

PAA affiliate PURE is organizing a citywide testing resistance movement along with other parent, teacher, community, and university groups.

Resistance to testing has heated up since the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Parents marching with teachers raised signs of protests against the overuse and misuse of tests in Chicago schools, a campaign PURE has been carrying on since 1998 (book at right details some of PURE's early anti-testing work).

The current school year has seen a major increase in the number of tests being given to students. Many parents of kindergartners were outraged to learn that their children would be subjected to as many as 18 tests this school year.

Some parents are considering or are already opting their students out of some tests. 

Read more about the Chicago Testing Resistance efforts here.

Also, be sure to check out the four-part series on our web site about testing by PAA's founding member from Seattle, Dora Taylor, including "Part 4: High Stakes Testing and Opting Out: The Consequences."          
PAA Blog Highlights

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