PAA Action News
Jan. 31, 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
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PAA Action Alert

Register for the first Public Schools Across America Regional Action Planning Meeting!

PAA members and friends in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois - this is especially for you!

PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff from PURE in Chicago and 2006 Ohio Teacher of the Year Maureen Reedy are sponsoring a four-state Midwest regional action planning meeting in support of public education on Saturday, February 23, from 12 noon to 5 pm ET, in Ft. Wayne Indiana.

The purpose of the meeting is to share information about local public school concerns, identify common themes, and begin to strategize about possible regional joint action. PAA chapters and affilliates will also have an opportunity to meet face-to-face and learn more about how PAA can support your work.    

 Details and registration here.

Special keynote speaker for the event will be newly-elected Indiana State Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Supt. Ritz was elected over incumbent Tony Bennett, a strong advocate of corporate reform. Bennett was later appointed state superintendent in Florida
PAA News

Listen to the PAA testing webinar

Last Sunday's webinar was sold out, and for good reason! Host and PAA founding member Dora Taylor brought together a great panel including Sarah Richardson, a teacher at Garfield High School and part of the MAP test boycott, FairTest's  Monty Neill, Shaun Johnson, a former public school teacher and current teacher educator and Tim Slekar, a former public school teacher, now an associate professor of teacher education. Shaun and Tim also co-host online radio show "At the Chalk Face" and founded United Opt Out National.  


The discussion covered:

  • How high stakes testing got started.
  • Methods to fairly evaluate a teacher in the classroom.
  • Opting your student out of high stakes testing, why and how.
Not one of the lucky 100 participants? You can listen to the webinar here.  

New Orleans Parent and Activist Karran Harper Royal at  
New Orleans Parent and Activist Karran Harper Royal at "Journey for Justice" Hearing in DC

Journey 4 Justice 2

The big news this week was the Journey 4 Justice 2 hearing at the U.S. Department of Education, attended by hundreds of parents, students and other advocates from 18 cities across the country, including PAA founding member Karran Harper Royal of PAA-New Orleans.

Karran and others testified about the negative impact massive school closings have had on their children. Parents have submitted discrimination complaints to the DOE's Office for Civil Rights, which has opened investigations in at least some of the cases so far.

Here are links to some of the major news coverage of the event: 

The full press release on the event is here.  



Sharon Higgins exposes more charter school scandals

Diane Ravitch re-posted a blog by Oakland, CA, PAA founding member Sharon Higgins on the apparently approaching demise of the so-called American Indian Charter Schools run by Ben Chavis. The schools were touted nationally as an answer to low achievement by native students, though it clearly pushed those students out in favor of a higher-scoring student body.   

Sharon wrote,         

As for the original intent of the school - to help Native American students - during Chavis' first year, AIPCS enrolled 45 (43%) American Indian/Alaska Native students. By 2011-12, there were only 6 AI/AN students (<1%) at all three schools.  


Fair funding video


Featuring PAA-CT founder Wendy Lecker and some other great quotes from students and parents, this 3-minute video is well worth sharing! There's also a quick way here to send a letter of support for fair school funding.



Will you fund our schools? 
Will you fund our schools?
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
Another week, another new chapter - PAA-South Bend IN!

PAA has so many friends in Indiana but until now no chapter, so we're especially happy to welcome Don Vila and PAA-South Bend IN!

Don writes to us:
              I am the founder and writer of The South Bend Progressive,
I also post and repost a lot of K - 12 public educational news and analysis on my Facebook page (Don Wheeler, South Bend, IN). I get a lot of public school teachers thanking me for 
              letting them know what has been going on - but I fear parents are even
              less aware. A coordinated effort, represented by a group which stands
              up for the interests of parents and their children, is sorely needed.
You can contact him at

More on Seattle testing activism

PAA-Seattle co-founder Sue Peters pulled together some press from earlier events for us:

Here in Seattle, there was another press conference at Garfield High School, yesterday (MLK Day) announcing further support for the teacher's opposition to the MAP test. It included this announcement. Various people spoke. I was also invited to participate as a parent, and read the statement of support from Parents Across America, Seattle.

There was decent media turnout, once again, and the story made the local TV news. I'm briefly included in it reading our statement.

Also, PAA-Seattle got a mention in the Seattle Times' initial write-up of the event.

CPS Parent Linda Hudson speaks as student Ahkeem Wright listens

Chicago testing forum "astounding"

PAA's Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education co-sponsored a testing forum, "Assessment that Make Sense," which one local reporter called "astounding."


Because, FairTest's Monty Neill presented two successful alternatives to standardized testing accountability that "make sense, could turn around educational practices for the next century, and (are) so easy."

A room crowded with parents, teachers, students and community members from all over the city heard Monty talk about  

  • the Performance Assessment student project-based model used in New York in place of state Regents' exams, and
  • the Learning Record, a teacher- based observation and reporting system that has been used in dozens of Bureau of Indian Affairs schools and in California and New York City.

High school students assessed in the Performance Assessment model, who demographically include far more low-income, English-language learner and special education students than the state overall, have shown better high school graduation rates and college enrollment and graduation rates than students across the state.


Why? Dr. Neill suggests it's due to a curriculum, instruction and assessment system that is student-based, not test-based. Students are all evaluated using the same standards and scales across four major subject areas, but they choose their own topics and methods, which makes them more engaged and serious about their work.


Presentations by a CPS parent, student and teacher and a biligual education expert gave a rich picture of the problems with standardized testing and what needs to be done instead.

Read more here and here.          
PAA Blog Highlights

In addition to the blog posts mentioned above, new posts on the PAA blog include: