PAA Action News
Dec. 20, 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

HELP our new Senators and Congressmen get off on the right track in education

PAA just sent this letter to three newly-elected Senators who will be serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. We will send similar letters to other new committee members, including any new members of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, as we learn of their appointments.

The letter summarizes PAA's basic positions on education and ESEA, and also raises a concern that there be no cuts in education as lawmakers attempt an end-of-year budget deal.

Send a letter of your own today! Use our letter and find contact information on your new legislator's campaign web site (just google their name). The time before Congress starts up in January offers a great opportunity to introduce yourself to your new representatives, if any, and start sharing your positions with them as they prepare to take office.
PAA News

PAA-CT parent letter to President Obama 

PAA-Connecticut founder Wendy Lecker wrote a powerful letter to President Obama in response to his comments at the Sunday night vigil in Newtown. Wendy's letter concluded:

"You said last night that we have to change. While I believe you were hinting at gun control, I respectfully request that you expand this resolve to change and include a rethinking of your education policy. We want all our children to feel safe and loved. We want them to be able to find their own, unique voices. We want to protect them and teach them ways to adapt and protect themselves. Please help us do that by helping schools expand our children's world. Let us build our schools' capacity to serve all our children, rather than tearing down the foundations of our public education system." 
We were pleased to see Wendy's letter reprinted by Diane Ravitch on her blog

PAA Austin affiliate files complaint: District not listening to parents
Austin parents meet
with district officials 

Lorie Barzano, founder of PAA Austin TX affiliate Coalition SAUS, reports that they and other parent groups have filed a complaint against the Austin Independent School District (AISD), charging that the district goes through the motions, but then disregards community input on everything from principal assignments and policies and procedures, to campus closures and repurposing.

"The district does not involve community members in these decisions. In fact, oftentimes it makes decisions in direct opposition to what is evident community will," (the groups' lawyer Brian) McGiverin said.  


Read more about the complaint in local radio reports here and here. 

Here are the guidelines for filing a complaint in Austin. Does your school district have such a policy?     
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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

Update on new charter law from PAA-Washington State

From PAA-Seattle co-founder Sue Peters: Just to complete the story, the initiative to allow charter schools in Washington State did end up passing, by the narrowest of margins -- 50.7% - 49.3%. (Which amounted to  a margin of less than 42,000 votes statewide.)

And this was despite a 17-1 Gates/Broad/Ballmer/Walton funding advantage ($11 million v. $600,000).

The initiative is seriously flawed and contains a trigger component. The Yes campaign glossed over all of this, so it is very likely most voters don't know what they voted for. The Yes side was able to afford endless happy-talk TV ads. Our side had grit and blogs and a half-engaged state teachers' union that put up a lukewarm fight and sent out late mailers.


The good news is that some of us are looking into legal challenges of it, because it appears to be unconstitutional. Preferably, PAA and the new organization that has formed here, Protect Our Public Schools, will support the legal challenge by the state supt of public instruction or others.

We had a press conference announcing our letter to the state superintendent and announcing the creation of this new organization last week. Another local activist parent is leading it. (PAA-Seattle's) Dora (Taylor) and I also spoke at the event.

Here's the letter, which urges the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction to pursue a legal challenge to I-1240 on the grounds that it is an extremely flawed, unconstitutional and undemocratic proposal which circumvents genuine public oversight, and is full of troubling loopholes and opportunities to divert public funding away from our existing schools to private enterprises for proposed outcomes that statistically are no better than existing public schools 83 percent of the time.  
PAA Blog Highlights

In addition to the blog posts highlighted in the articles above, please be sure to read these new posts: