PAA Action News
Apr. 4, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Occupy the DOE starts today!

From the United Opt Out press release:

Administrators of the public education advocacy group UNITED OPT OUT NATIONAL are hosting the second annual event on the grounds of the US Department of Education in Washington, DC on April 4-7, 2013. We ask all of those in support of teachers, students and public schools to attend. The third day will include an organized march to the White House.

The event is a four-day gathering of progressive education activists endeavoring to resist the destructive influences of corporate and for-profit education reforms, which began in previous administrations and persist with the current one. We cannot and will not stand silent as the threats to dismantle our system of public education continue. These threats include the erosion of the teaching profession, excessive use of standardized testing, mandated scripted curriculum, the absolute disregard of child poverty, and reforms which disproportionately impact minority communities.

We ask that you join us, stand tall, and meet your responsibility as citizens to be heard above the din corporate influence. You will have the opportunity to hear speakers and converse with public school advocates from across the country, including Diane Ravitch, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, Stephen Krashen, Brian Jones, Deborah Meier, and many other students, teachers, and community members (visit the link below for full schedule details).

Do not miss this free and unique opportunity to connect with like-minded public school advocates. Come gather information and strategies that can be used to fight corporate education reform in your own community. Join us and make your voice heard.


PAA Board of Directors member Karran Harper Royal is representing PAA at this event. PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson and leader of PAA affiliate Yinzercation, Jesse Ramey, are on the schedule to speak. We encourage you to attend if possible or join via live-stream here.

No legislative fax this week - Congress is not in DC   
This is, however, still 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 these materials off at their offices if you can't get an appointment!

PAA and PAAers in the News

Pittsburgh parents opting out of testing

Members of new PAA affiliate Yinzercation wrote an op ed piece on opting out of testing that went viral, receiving over 36,000 shares on Facebook. The Post-Gazette, Tribune Review, Delco Times (4-4-13), and the Washington Post ran followup stories. Also, coverage on WTAE TV and the Michael Smerconish radio program. Mentions in Early Returns, 4-2-13; Pittsburgh City Paper, 4-3-13;, 4-3-13.

Yinzercation leader Jesse Ramey was quoted in a follow-up news story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"I really care about what my kids are learning. What I'm seeing with the high stakes attached to these tests is we've got a really dramatic narrowing of our curriculum. This is part of the much bigger movement for public education. Lots of parents in opt out are pushing for an equitable state budget."


Jesse opted her children out of the state tests, and will be talking about that this week at United Opt Out National's Occupy DC event.     


Op-ed on testing by PAA Arizona member Robin Hiller

An excellent essay by Robin Hiller, executive director of PAA Tucson affiliate Voices for Education, came out in February in the Arizona Daily Star.       

In "The trend in education is away from standardized, high-stakes tests," Robin wrote,  

Research has shown that testing doesn't make students smarter or improve the educational outcomes for those at risk. It just makes test-makers wealthier....But across the United States there is a growing swell of resistance to our national obsession of standardized testing.

She went on to list test resistance activities in Texas, New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Washington and California, many of which have involved PAA chapters and affiliates.

Robin's conclusion?

Arizona needs to spend its money on proven, researched-based strategies: lowering class size to less than 18 in K-3, and using reading and math specialists who can intervene and provide one-on-one assistance in support of new teachers. Trust teachers to do what they were trained to do - teach, inspire and assess the students they work with 180 days a year.  



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 new chapter in Virginia!

We're excited to welcome our first chapter in the state of Virginia, PAA-Roanoke Valley!

You are going to want to read the question that chapter founder Laura Bowman asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan last September, which is here on our blog

Here's a part of her comment to Duncan:

Parents are concerned about class sizes. They're concerned that the federal government sees their children as merely test scores. They're tired of the current climate where teachers are expected to bear the sole blame for the failure of some students in public schools when the real enemy of a good education is poverty and parents who aren't involved.

Read the rest here -- and like PAA-Roanoke Valley on Facebook!


They're mindless, and they just keep coming!


An eerie report from PAA founding member Pamela Grundy: 


The "Stop Testing Madness in North Carolina" campaign is off to a great start, closing in on 600 signatures, and with almost half our state's 100 counties represented.




We're talking to school boards, superintendents and other organizations about endorsements, and working on a piece of state legislation that would place a moratorium on state-imposed consequences tied to student test scores. This would include A-F school ratings, merit pay and holding students back a grade just because they didn't pass a state test.

We've been getting a terrific response. It isn't hard to "sell" a testing madness campaign at the grass roots. We have yet to talk to anyone who isn't already fed up with the tests.

We've planned our first event, a "testing zombie" rally here in Mecklenburg County, for April 9. We've adopted a zombie theme because it seems to fit: high-stakes tests suck time and money from teaching and learning, devour recess, art and music, deaden creativity, sap original thought. Eventually, if we let them, they will eat our children's brains.

Plus, it's fun to dress up like a zombie. Check it out at our new gateway page:

The petition is targeted at North Carolina residents, because they're the ones our elected officials care about. But if you'd like to keep up with what we're doing, please like our MecklenburgACTS Facebook page. There should be some interesting stuff coming up.

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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