PAA Action News
Jan. 3, 2013

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
Looking for regular updates on key education stories? Join the PAA News List by e-mailing 
PAA Action of the Week
PAA News
Join us!
PAA Chapter and Affiliate News
Blog Highlights
Connect With Us
Like us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterView our videos on YouTube

PAA Action Alert

Wish the new U. S. Congress a productive new year!

Happy New Year! We hope you are looking forward to a great new year of activism in support of our public schools!

On this opening day of Congress, let's continue to reach out to our new Congressional representatives about what we want them to do to help improve public education.

Two weeks ago, PAA sent a letter to the three newly-elected Senators who will be serving on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.    

Yesterday, three new Republican members were added to the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The House Democrats have not yet chosen new education committee members.

New Republicans on the House Education committee are Susan Brooks and Luke Messer, both from Indiana, and Richard Hudson from North Carolina. In addition, Todd Rokita from Indiana has been named the chair of the subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education.

Apparently, we should expect a push for "Hoosier-style" education reform from the Republicans, which may move in a direction contrary to PAA's positions. Brooks promoted school choice during her campaign. Messer and Rokita had less to say about education on their campaign web sites except that there should be little federal involvement. Hudson explicitly stated his support for home schooling and charter schools.  


Today PAA sent this letter to these four committee members, summarizing PAA's basic positions on education and ESEA, and adding our concern that there be no cuts in education as lawmakers iron out budget revisions over the next two months.

Send a letter of your own today! If you haven't already done so, use our letter and find contact information for your new/re-elected legislator at and The new year is the perfect time to introduce yourself to your representatives, and share your positions with them as they take office today.
PAA News

Another powerful letter from PAA-CT leader  

PAA-Connecticut founder Wendy Lecker published another excellent letter
in the Stamford (CT) Advocate, asking "Will one superintendent please stand up?"

Wendy is referring to recent gutsy challenges to standardized testing by Charlotte-Mecklenburg's superintendent, Heath Morrison, who labeled North Carolina's new barrage of standardized testing an "egregious waste of taxpayer dollars " (see more on this in PAA Chapter/Affiliate news below), by Superintendent Josh Starr, of the Montgomery County, Md., school district, where he has called for a three-year moratorium on standardized testing, and by Texas Superintendent John Kuhn, who has been a steady voice opposing the emptiness of test-centric policies.

Wendy asks, "Is there a Connecticut school superintendent who will stand up for children? Is there one who will speak truth to power?" Read the rest of her letter here
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 to another new affiliate in Michigan!

We welcome Michigan Parents for Schools, PAA's newest affiliate. The group's excellent web site says that they are "a group of Michigan public school parents who are worried about the funding problems our schools face and the consequences this has for our kids and our communities. We feel it's time to take action as parents and as citizens to make sure our schools have the resources they need to educate our children."

We posted this informative piece from MIPFS on our blog. It gives important details about recent legislative battles over school policy in Michigan - many of which will sound familiar to other PAA chapters and affiliates!

Contact them at

Great news out of Austin

Lorie Barzano, leader of PAA Austin TX affiliate Coalition SAUS, "jubilantly reports that parents are celebrating a major victory in turning back the tide of charterizing our public schools.

"On Dec. 17, the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees voted (5 to 4) to terminate the district's contract with IDEA, a charter school operator from south Texas.


"Just last December, in a publicly unpopular and highly contentious decision, the AISD Board voted (6 to 3) to approve the contract with IDEA. It was Austin's first contract for a charter school to co-locate, and eventually take over, one of its public school campuses. This school year, the charter company began occupying part of an AISD campus, Allan Elementary, and teaching K-2nd and 6th grade at the East Austin campus. Additionally, the contract specified that the charter school would subsequently occupy part of Eastside Memorial High School (EMHS) beginning in the 2013-2014 school. Allan graduates feed into EMHS. Current students at both public school campuses would age out and IDEA would continue to exclusively operate charter schools at both location.

"Parents, teachers and community members organized and worked hard for over a year to change AISD's decision to open the district to an outside charter school. Most notably, groups from all over the city coordinated, rallied and elected four new school board members, replacing 3 of the members who voted "yea" last year to approve the IDEA contract."


Congratulations, Lorie and Coalition SAUS! 


Challenging testing in Charlotte       

Leader of North Carolina PAA affiliate Mecklenburg ACTS, Pamela Grundy, reports: "We in Charlotte were delighted to read on Friday that our superintendent, Heath Morrison, had forcefully denounced the plethora of new state tests being prepared in response to North Carolina's Race to the Top grant, calling them 'an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars' that would do nothing for children. Quite a change from the time two years ago when Peter Gorman proudly announced that Charlotte students would be the most tested in the nation

"We at met with Dr. Morrison the morning before he made that statement and found the conversation promising. We were also pleased to learn that he was working with a group of superintendents, including Montgomery County's Joshua Starr, who are in discussions with each other, with state officials and with the Department of Education about ways to curb the current testing obsession.
"All the work so many people have been doing around testing madness has clearly played a significant role in highlighting the wasteful absurdity of this approach. If we can continue the pressure at local, state and national levels, we should see further movement. Keep up the good work and happy holidays, everyone!"

Read more here in the Charlotte Observer.           

Education reform theater in Portland

If you're in or near Portland OR, Susan Garrett, leader of PAA affiliate Oregon Save Our Schools, suggests you take in "A Noble Failure," a play by teacher Susan Mach which shares an eye-opening look at the current state of America's public education system. "Navigating a minefield of competition, quotas, retention, privatization, class size, corporate welfare, and litigation is tricky on the best of days, but what does any of it have to do with teaching Johnny to read? Told with empathy and humor, and featuring a rich cast of characters, A Noble Failure is startling in its immediacy and passionate in its plea to 'Save Our Schools.' "

Tickets are limited - information here.

PAA Blog Highlights

In addition to the PAA blog post mentioned above, be sure to read: