PAA Action News
Apr. 11, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Look out for zombies!

Our PAA chapter in Charlotte, NC, Mecklenburg ACTS, staged a "No Testing Zombies" rally before the local school board meeting this week. Their slogan: "How is a standardized test like a zombie? They're mindless, and they just keep coming."

They are collecting signatures of North Carolinians on a petition to "End Testing Madness" here. Sign it and share it if you live there, just share it if you don't!
Read more about the zombie rally in PAA and PAAers in the News, below.
This week's PAA legislative fax to share    
This week we highlighted news stories about inflated charter school waiting lists in our fax to the Senate and House education committee members. Charter school promoters use these figures to create a sense of urgency about the need for more charter schools, but a closer look by news outlets in Chicago and Boston found that the numbers are seriously exaggerated.

You can download and share the fax with your elected representatives.

More on the charter numbers story in PAA News below.  

PAA and PAAers in the News

More coverage of PA parent opt-out actions

In Philadelphia, PAA Chapter Parents United for Public Education had several stories on parents opting out including parent Tomika Anglin (right, with daughter Simone) at Parents United's website:

Tomika wrote:   


And finally, as someone who bore witness to the terrible injustice of last month's school closings vote, I choose civil disobedience today. I choose to change my child's future and to take my child's education back from those who show so little regard for education today. I choose to disrupt the monied forces behind the tests - the test makers, test preppers, and test assessors - who make billions labeling and sorting our schools as "failures."


I  choose to deny this Governor the fruit of his efforts to starve our schools and our children of a vital education. This administration has starved our schools then they use the tests to take away our crumbs. No thank you.

There's more media coverage here in the Philadelphia Public Schools Notebook: "Philly mom opts out of state standardized tests," and here in the Daily News, which also mentions PAA affililiate Yinzercation's Jesse Ramey and Kathy Newman, whose article on opting her child out of the tests went viral last week. 

Vote for Rita

PAA founding member Rita Solnet, founder of Florida's PA affiliate Testing is not Teaching,  has been nominated for a BAMMY award, a cross-discipline honor offered by a broad coalition of education groups including the National PTA, the National Schools Boards Assn, the International Reading Assn, and others, that identifies and acknowledges the extraordinary work being done across the entire education field every day-- from teachers, principals and superintendents, to school nurses, support staff, advocates, researchers, school custodians, early childhood specialists, education journalists and parents. The Bammy Awards were created to help reverse the negative national narrative that dominates the education field.

An example of Rita's work was highlighted in Diane Ravitch's blog yesterday, "Florida parents unite to fight parent trigger."

Vote for Rita here!

More zombie news

From Pam Grundy, PAA founding member and leader of Mecklenburg ACTS:

MecklenburgACTS members had a great time at our zombie event on Tuesday. To the beat of Thriller, and with the help of makeup expert Martin Brry, we formally asked the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board to endorse our petition. We're about to top 700 signatures statewide. We got good local coverage, including this TV spot.

We are now focusing our efforts on building support for HB-775, a state bill that calls for a one-year moratorium on high-stakes testing here in North Carolina. We worked with state representative Deb McManus to introduce the bill, which would suspend all of the real-world consequences that the state has attached to the tests, including A-F school grading, "merit pay" and retaining students based solely on test scores.

More on charter school waiting lists

Chicago's Newstips carried an insightful story on the charter school waiting list scandal, including quotes from PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, leader of PAA's Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education. From the article: 

The (waiting list) number only matters to charter proponents because it's the only argument they have left, points out Julie Woestehoff of Parents United for Reponsible Education.  


They used to say that charter schools were needed because students performed better there, she said.  Then research started coming in, and it consistently debunked that claim.  The only argument left was the popular demand for charters supposedly demonstrated by waiting lists.


"The Tribune hit those numbers very hard, as if they're scientific numbers and they prove the need for more charters," said Woestehoff.  "It's like everything else in the corporate reform movement - the numbers are not real. They're imaginary numbers. And the whole argument falls apart when you scrutinize it."


In 2008, PURE's report on charter accountability - in which two-thirds of the city's charter schools and networks ignored a letter from the attorney general saying they had to respond to the group's FOIA request - showed that many charters "do not have waiting lists" and "some struggle to keep up their enrollment."

Student data privacy protests heating up

From PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, of PAA NYC affiliate Class Size Matters: two new media clips about this dangerous plan:
Who is Stockpiling and Sharing Private Information About New York Students   (Village Voice) in which the NY State Education spokesperson says that parents "give up" the right to decide if they want highly confidential  information about their child shared with vendors when they register him or her in a public school.
"The real outrage of it is that the whole spin of this is that it's being done to help kids. And, yet they refuse to tell their parents about it." Leonie Haimson, of Class Size Matters, tells the Voice.  "The idea that they wouldn't tell parents about it and allow them the right to consent, shows me that either it's not being done for kids at all, or that they don't trust parents to make the right choices for their child."

Privacy, big data and education: more about the inBloom database s(Hechinger) in which InBloom Inc. attempts to disclaim all responsibility, and argues no one should blame them if parents aren't notified or asked for consent before they disclose their child's private information in disclosed to for-profit vendors, as they're just following orders.
For some of the highly sensitive data elements that the state is planning to send to inBloom, and inBloom is paying cash rewards to for-profit companies to use and develop their products around, see this NY Public School Parents blog post.   
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 Los Altos, CA!

We are happy to welcome another new California chapter, PAA-Los
Altos/Mountain View CA and its leader, Sharon Greenstein. Sharon is a parent, community education activist, parent education organizer and graduate student in Counseling Psychology at Santa Clara University.

Los Altos is embroiled in a charter school facility controversy. You can
read about it here.

It's great to have Sharon and PAA-Los Altos/Mountain View on board!

Great news from Texas!

PAA founding member Karen Miller reports from Houston that a voucher amendment to the House Budget Bill passed overwhelmingly yesterday on a vote of 103 - 43 with 51 Republicans joining 52 Democrats to prohibit public funds allocated to the state education agency from being spent on vouchers or for tax scholarships. Coverage here.

"Play-In" planned to highlight problems with testing in early childhood programs

More Than a Score, a group of Chicago Public School parents and advocacy groups including PAA affiliate PURE, will hold a "Play-In" at school headquarters on Wednesday, April 17, to highlight the growing number of standardized tests being given to our youngest children, and the removal of play equipment and other play-based resources to make room for testing and test prep. Early childhood experts contend that young children learn best through play, and that standardized tests are not age-appropriate for them. Demonstrators will showcase a variety of early childhood play programs to illustrate that point.    

PAA Blog Highlights

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

New blog posts not linked in the stories above include:
For more....
If you have questions, comments, suggestions or stories to share, please e-mail us at or

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