PAA Action News
Feb. 28, 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

NOTE: Tonight's Scrap the Map forum with Diane Ravitch and PAA founding member Dora Taylor will be livestreamed. Details here. 

Register for PAA's next webinar this Sunday: Journey to Justice 2 with Karran Harper Royal

This Sunday, March 3, at 1 pm PT. Free tickets here.

PAA's world traveler, Karran Harper Royal, has just come back from New Zealand and Australia, where she spoke to political leaders, educators and parents about the problems with charter school expansion in New Orleans. 

Just a few days earlier, Karran and 500 others from around the U.S. had converged on the U.S. Department of Education for a hearing on the discriminatory impact of school closings.

Join Karran, moderator Dora Taylor and other J4J2 participants in a discussion of the J4J2 strategy, how your community can become involved, and what's really going on Down Under!

Register here for this exciting webinar, and read more about the Journey for Justice here.

PAA's weekly legislative fax for you to use

This week, the PAA weekly education fax was about - you guessed it - sequestration and threatened cuts to education programs.  


We pointed out that three federal programs critical to education across the country -- Title I funds for poor students, state grants for special education and the Head Start public pre-school program -- would lose $2.7 billion over 10 years. As many as 15,000 teachers and aides could lose their jobs, and 10,000 special education workers could be laid off.


We said that schools are already under enormous pressure to succeed. Our children and their schools need more resources, including smaller class sizes, not less.   


We recommended saving money instead by cutting ineffective and damaging programs like Race to the Top, massive new testing systems to support the Common Core, and further expansion of charter schools.  


Our fax went to all the members of the U. S. House and Senate education committees. You can read the full fax here. We urge you to copy and send it as a fax, e-mail, or snail mail to your Congresspersons and other elected officials.


PAA News

Huge Save Texas Schools rally in Austin

PAA founding member Karen Miller reports:

This weekend, I participated in and helped recruit educators and parents to attend a massive Save Texas Schools rally in Austin. Thousands of students, parents, educators, public education advocates marched on the state Capitol to support more public school funding and less testing and urged legislators to make public education a priority.

The energy and enthusiasm of the students who cheered made their the day. 

Superintendent John Kuhn was electrifying as he spoke about the dedication and selflessness of educators. Here's a report on his speech from Diane Ravitch. 
An articulate Superintendent Mary Ann Whiteker described how her schools had taken down the banners exhorting the students to work harder for the tests and instead were emphasizing the arts and creativity. 

A Baptist preacher, Dr. Frederick Haynes, brought roars from the crowd when he said, "Educate children now, so you won't incarcerate them later."   

Former Commissioner Robert Scott explained why he could no longer support the high-stakes regime over which he had been presiding. 

Diane Ravitch, a Houston ISD graduate said, "We aren't providing justice for all when our state Legislature cuts $5.4 billion out of public schools (in 2011) but somehow manages to find $500 million for Pearson  Testing Corp. Texas is the place where the testing madness started and Texas is the place where the vampire will get garlic in its face and a stake in its heart."

The well organized, thrilling event inspired parents, students, educators, and others concerned about public schools and was awesome in all respects -- number, quality, intensity and message.  

Links here and here to Diane's account of the day (and more pictures). 

The event caught the attention of Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post as well as the Schools Matter blog
Following the rally, Diane spoke at a forum sponsored by the UT LBJ School featuring UT profs, former SBOE member and Dallas ISD school board member on how the national school reform movement has taken root in Texas, and the challenge facing public school advocates in major Texas cities.    


Report from the 4-state regional Parents Across America/Public Schools Across America action planning meeting on February 23, 2013  


Seventy-five public school activists from Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Illinois braved ice and cold to come together for a half-day regional action planning meeting in Fort Wayne, Indiana, this past Saturday, Feb 23.


This energetic and positive meeting was a great start to what we hope will be coordinated action across our four states and beyond to support and strengthen public schools against the current onslaught of corporate reform.


Here's a link to the full report on the meeting, including a summary of the inspiring remarks of new Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz and the issues and strategies we discussed.  


Here are some of those ideas:
  • Invite a legislator to your classroom; they will learn about the intensity of the school day and come away with a new respect for the teacher and the schools.
  • Volunteer programs for local businesses can have the same effect.
  • Build relationships with legislators - have a civil conversation, listen to their side of the discussion, ask questions, see where you can agree.
  • Share personal stories, but also have the facts.
  • Hold a community forum either on issues or a candidates' forum.
  • Use free media like cable access.
  • Educate all stakeholders about quality education using tools like NEIFPE Power Point, PURE fact sheets, PAA position papers.
  • For organizing tips, read "Playbook for Progressives" by Eric Mann, Get Up, Stand Up" by Bruce Levine, and "Calling all Radicals" by Gabriel Thompson; also suggested "Don't Think of an Elephant" by George Lakoff, on messaging.
  • Find money for social media experts; drill down data.
  • Create an online information center for state-by-state facts, data.

We agreed to come together in about 6 months - in the same place, if possible - and meanwhile we will discuss over e-mail, work on a platform (NEIFPE and PAA have ones to look at ) being clear about what we are FOR as well as against.


Clips from two local TV reports from our meeting can be found here.  





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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
Welcome new California chapter PAA-Paso Robles   

We're so happy to have another new chapter in California- welcome to PAA-Paso Robles.

Leader Debbie Gough is eager to join forces with PAA and strengthen the public schools in her area. You can contact Debbie at

PAA affiliate Oregon-SOS tracks crucial state legislation

From leader Susan Barrett:

1) A bill on addressing testing got its first hearing. Hear the great testimony by the Representative who introduced it here

2) There is also a class size bill. This one is really just common sense...get the actual class sizes to match up with data reported. Right now, most data doesn't match reality as all the bodies in the building, and "teachers on special assignment" get counted, and it makes our class sizes sound smaller than they actually are. This has strong bi-partisan support. My fear is that the Oregon Department of Ed price tag on this might make some legislators vote no on it. Will see. It also just had a first hearing.

3) We have three bills on student data privacy. SB 567 establishes a Chief Privacy Officer. There are a couple of other variations: HB 2666 and HB 2863.

4) Our capitol is infested with Stand members. Kind of knew this anyhow, but as I meet with more legislators, and research them, I have run into those who were former Stand chairs, or have aides as former Stand organizers. The Secretary of State had to recently intervene in a neighboring district as the school district was pushing parents to join Stand. Glad people spoke up on how inappropriate this was!  
PAA Blog Highlights

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