PAA Action News
Mar. 28, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Endorse the Network for Public Education!

There is strength in numbers. PAA just joined the Network for Public Education as an organizational ally. We encourage all of PAA's chapters and affiliates to do the same.  

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."

While PAA is filing for our 501c3 and we and our chapters cannot endorse candidates or contribute to campaigns, we can endorse NPE and share information about their activities. 

No legislative fax this week - Congress is on vacation  
This is, however, a good time to visit your Senator and Congresspersons in their home offices. You could print and share with them recent PAA legislative faxes on testing here and democratic school governance here. Drop them off at their offices if you can't get an appointment!

UPDATE: Senate budget amendment on vouchers fails

Our eagle-eyed Board member in Texas, Karen Miller, alerted us to a threatened  amendment  on school vouchers proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Rand Paul to the FY14 budget that would set aside federal education funds for vouchers. We sent out an alert to our PAA list and an emergency fax to the Senate Education Committee, and are happy to report that the amendment failed. Read more here, including who voted for and against.     
PAA and PAAers in the News

PAA co-founder calls out Chicago Tribune for biased survey report


A blog post by PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, of PAA affiliate PURE in Chicago, criticized the Chicago Tribune's effort  to promote its corporate reform agenda using a strongly biased analysis of a survey it commissioned with the city's Joyce Foundation.  


While the Trib highlighted results that seemed to support its editorial positions, Julie's look at the actual survey found the reality somewhat different.  


For example, "The most popular answer to their question about what to do about underperforming schools was 'devote more resources while keeping the staff intact' (37%). The least selected answers were 'close the school and transfer students to a higher-performing school' (only 6%) and 'allow an experienced nonprofit to come in and run the school' (18.8%) (question 24). The Trib left these results out of its editorial report.  


Julie also noted that 50% of the survey respondents were white, while the Chicago Public Schools enrollment is only 9% white.


PURE's story was mentioned by Diane Ravitch, Catalyst Magazine (a local education journal) and an excellent, detailed analysis by teacher/author Greg Michie in the Huffington Post.     



Press notice for Chicago testing resistance group


More Than a Score, a group convened by PURE to resist standardized tests in Chicago, was written up in a recent Chicago Reader article about the excess of tests in Chicago schools. We wrote about MTAS's testing forum in last week's newsletter. If you missed that story, you can read about it on our blog.

PAA co-founder Pam Grundy on the parent trigger in Ed Week

There was a great quote about parent trigger laws in Education Week from PAA co-founder Pamela Grundy, leader of PAA affilate Mecklenburg ACTS in North Carolina. Here's part of that piece:

"Some opponents of the parent-trigger concept see its backers as poised
to sweep into other states and effectively set the agenda for supposedly
grassroots efforts.

"Pamela Grundy, the co-founder of Parents Across America, a Chicago-based
group opposed to parent-trigger laws, said such bills continue to be
pushed by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative
Washington think tank, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, a
Tallahassee, Fla.-based organization led by former Florida Gov. Jeb
Bush, a Republican, that advocates policies such as A-F school grades
and charter schools.

"Part of the strategy, she contended, is to support 'a tremendous
scattershot of legislation,' especially in GOP-dominated states, to
spread groups like hers thin. (Republicans control the Florida, Georgia,
and Oklahoma legislatures, but Democratic legislators are in charge in
Connecticut and California.)

" 'There are a lot of very conservative legislatures across the country,'
Ms. Grundy said.

"Ms. Grundy also said she believes that Parent Revolution is gearing up
to take over many parent-trigger efforts around the country."

Read more parent trigger news below in PAA Chapter and Affiliate News.

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
Amended parent trigger law passes in Texas

From PAA's Austin TX affiliate Coalition SAUS leader Lorie Barzano: 

With the Texas Legislature (they meet every other year) in session this year, charter school bills, voucher and education tax credits and enhancements to quicken the already existent trigger law jam the dockets. The Senate Education Committee held hearings this week to discuss one of the "improved" trigger bills (SB 1263) and SB 2, sponsored by Education Committee Chair Dan Patrick, which combines increasing the number of charter schools licensed in the state, establishing a voucher-type system and putting the state's trigger law on steroids.

Lorie Barzano, Chair of Coalition SAUS (Strengthen Austin Urban Schools), a parent led group that advocates for Public Education and PAA affiliate in Austin, TX, testified before the TX Senate Committee on Public Education at its hearings on Tuesday, March 26. She testified shortly after parent Doreen Diaz, from Adelanto, CA, told a rather dubious story about the parent trigger process there (please see PAA's fact sheet on the parent trigger here and here).

You can view the comments by Doreen Diaz (at 1:52hrs) and Lorie testimony (at 1:57hrs) in TX Senate archives for March 26, Part II here. Lorie's testimony is also posted on our blog.

Our Houston member, PAA Board member Karen Miller, reported earlier today that an amended parent trigger bill passed the Texas Senate Education Committee,. You can read more here about the amended language, which addresses some problems with the parent trigger.

More Texas testing resistance    

Karen also reported on more push-back on testing in Texas. She says, "Some significant amendments were adopted Tuesday including one which would impose new limits on the number of days devoted to district-mandated tests in preparation for the high-stakes state tests; amendments to establish reporting requirements to ensure that minority students are not channeled into lower-level coursework; amendments barring testing-company lobbyists from serving on state advisory boards related to testing at the Texas Education Agency."

Read more here.

Delana Ivey signs up to start a new PAA chapter
Greetings from Indianapolis! 

New PAA-Indiana chapter leader Delana Ivey writes:

"I am pleased to announce that PAA-Indiana had a great kick-off party right in the middle of a public school rally!!! We spoke to parents, community, teachers at the Rally for Public Education at the Indiana State House. There are a lot of fed up people ready for action!"
Delana asks you to communicate with her using a new PAA email:
Massive school closing march in Chicago

Updating our story last week on the proposal to close more than 50 Chicago schools is the report from PURE's Julie Woestehoff on yesterday's march against school closings.

Thousands were on hand to hear Chicago Teachers' Union President Karen Lewis say, "It's not over until we say it's over."

Plans for more school closing resistance continue.

Chicago parents, students, teachers, school staff, and community activists gather in Daley Plaza for massive school closing protest.   
PAA Blog Highlights

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