PAA Action News
Mar. 21, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Check out the new Network for Public Education!

As we reported in our last newsletter, friend of PAA Diane Ravitch has launched the Network for Public Education, a politically-oriented public education advocacy group whose leaders include PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, Robin Hiller, leader of PAA affiliate Voices for Education, and Phyllis Bush, who was instrumental in organizing our 4-state conference in Fort Wayne, IN, last month.

NPE is a 501c4, a group that will "support candidates who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of its core functions to for-profit corporations, candidates who work for evidence-based reforms that will improve our schools and the education of our nation's children."

You can take a look at what they're doing here, and consider getting involved!

This week's legislative fax 

This week we wrote to the Congressional education committees about a proposal to strengthen and reaffirm the importance of local school board authority, which has been undermined lately by the Department of Education's Race to the Top and other programs. This includes requiring policies that expand charter schools, evaluating teachers using test scores, and establishing appointed authorities that can override school board decisions on charter school contracts.    

PAA has a strong position in favor of democratic governance of schools. You can read the full fax here, and consider using it to send a message to your own representatives. 

PAA News

Exciting news from North Carolina 


From PAA founding member Pamela Grundy: PAA NC affiliate has launched a North Carolina-wide petition drive aimed at the high-stakes standardized tests that are doing so much damage to our children's education.


The petition builds on our successful campaign against testing madness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools two years ago. It calls on state legislators and school officials to reduce the number of exams required by the state and to remove all high-stakes consequences, including promotion requirements, A-F grading and any connection to teacher pay.

Our goal was to target the piece of ed reform that has the most direct impact on parents and students, and to focus on what our state officials have the power to do (the disaster of federal policy is another fight). We think this is the best way to build a broad-based movement in our state.


Mecklenburg/ACTS co-chairs Carol Sawyer (l) and Pamela Grundy (r) with Diane Ravitch


The launch was timed to coincide with a visit by Diane Ravitch.  She gave a great shout-out to us in both her talks. She also urged folks to get involved. "Parents and students are the ones who can make a difference," she said. "You have power to stop this madness, and you should use it."

No one tells the truth like Diane.

We welcomed Diane with an op-ed piece in the Charlotte Observer: Stop hyper-testing in NC. 

Anyone with friends in North Carolina, please send them our site and urge them to sign and pass the word. If any of you are interested in starting a similar drive in your own state, let us know.

We are also happy to be partnering with a new group started by students at UNC Charlotte who are training to become special education teachers. Their group is "United to End Standardized Testing and they're on Facebook as UnTEST.  


Protesting tests from Chicago to Seattle

Jesse H and PAA's Julie Woestehoff


PAA Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) helped organize a testing forum in Chicago which brought together Seattle's Garfield High School MAP boycott leader Jesse Hagopian and the Chicago Teachers' Union president Karen Jennings Lewis for a powerful forum on testing. Reports on this forum can be found here and here.  


PURE has convened a coalition of groups to fight the overuse and misuse of tests in Chicago called More Than a Score. MTAS has also been passing an anti-testing petition in dozens of Chicago schools calling for an end to standardized testing in the primary grades, less testing overall, no high-stakes testing including use of test scores to evaluate teachers, and a parental opt out right.   


Take a look at MTAS's petition 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
Chicago school closing map
Tsunami of school closings hits Chicago

PURE reports that 50 schools are on the hit list for closure in Chicago, and another 20 for school turnaround. This is the largest group of closures anywhere in the US. PURE notes that included in that number are turnaround schools Bethune and Dodge, which was the "shining star" school where President Obama chose to announce his appointment of Arne Duncan as Education Secretary.

Top-down intervention has clearly failed at these schools, yet Chicago is about to do it to more schools.

Many other cities are facing the same tragedy based on the same school closing playbook. In Chicago, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett scheduled dozens of school closing hearings at which people begged for their schools to remain open, giving thousands of good reasons. Byrd-Bennet did not attend any of these hearings, yet her takeaway was that "everyone got it that we need to close schools."

A massive protest is being planned in Chicago on Wednesday, March 27, at 4 pm at Daley Center, which is certainly an appropriate spot.    

PAA Blog Highlights

Keep up with our blog for more news and commentary on public education from the parents' point of view.
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