PAA Action News
Apr. 25, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Help muzzle the parent trigger
The corporate, astroturf push for parent trigger laws is heating up across the nation as a number of state legislatures are voting on the issue.

In a blog posted on the PAA web site, PAA founding member Rita Solnet says, "The trigger concept is marketed under the guise of 'Choice.'  However, it more accurately represents 'Chance' in the form of risk for parents. Charters offer many promises to parents but none of them offer guarantees of academic improvement or sustained achievement. In fact, in Florida, none of them can point to sustained, improved performance either."

In her Washington Post column, Valerie Strauss compares the list of supporters of Parent Revolution, the California-based astroturf group that has taken the lead in the Florida parent trigger debate, versus the local groups that oppose it. She concludes, "It's a powerful coalition of super-wealthy foundations - virtually none of them are based in Florida - against Florida-based citizens and parents groups."

This long, powerful account of the California parent trigger debacle by investigative reporter Yasha Levine is only available to subscribers, but the story is well worth the $3 fee.  
Parent Trigger - False Promises, Divided Communities and Disrupted Young Lives 
Parent Trigger - False Promises, Divided Communities and Disrupted Young Lives

The excellent 4-minute video above, produced by the Education Opportunity Network, features Adelanto, CA, parent Lorie Yuan talking about her experience with the parent trigger. 

The parent trigger was the topic of this week's PAA legislative fax.      
Please download or link to this fax to share it with your elected representatives and others.

PAA and PAAers in the News

PAA receives grant

We are pleased and proud to announce that PAA has received an award from the
Anita L. Mishler Education Fund to support our 2013 annual meeting. We are especially happy to note that the contact person for this award is Albany NY PAA founding member Mark Mishler.

The award will provide some travel scholarships and other resources for PAA's first annual meeting, tentatively scheduled for July 2013. Stay tuned for more information about the meeting.    

PAA founding member published!

Our Seattle PAA founding member, Dora Taylor, has a chapter in new book, "Left Behind in the Race to the Top: Realities of School Reform," edited by Julie Gorlewski, State University of New York-New Paltz and Brad Porfilio, Lewis University.

Dora's chapter is called "High Stakes Testing: A Parent's Perspective."

She is in illustrious company - other contributors include Larry Cuban, Wayne Au, Anthony Cody, Kenneth Saltman, and Susan Ohanion.

Read more about the book on our blog.

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
One step for student data privacy in Louisiana 
PAA-Baton Rouge chapter leader Dawn Collins wrote a blog post this week warning parents in nine states that their children's confidential student data is in danger of being shared with a Gates-funded organization called the "Shared Learning Collaborative" or SLC, which has now spun off as a separate corporation called inBloom Inc. The states and districts in Phase I include New York City, North Carolina (Guilford Co.), Colorado (Jefferson Co.), Illinois (Unit 5 Normal and District 87 Bloomington) and Massachusetts (Everett) and Louisiana (statewide). Phase II states include Delaware, Georgia, and Kentucky, which intend to start piloting the system in 2013.

Dawn adds, "This confidential data includes personally identifiable information, including student names, grades, test scores, disciplinary and attendance records, and mostly likely race or ethnicity, free lunch & special education status as well.

These records are to be stored in a massive electronic data bank, being built by Wireless Generation, a subsidiary of News Corporation. News Corporation is owned by Rupert Murdoch and has been found to illegally violate the privacy of individuals in Great Britain and in the United States.

"inBloom Inc. will hold this information and make it available to commercial vendors to help them develop and market their "learning products."

"All this is happening without parental knowledge or consent or adequate notice.  There are serious questions as to whether this plan complies with the federal law protecting student privacy, called FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), which allows the disclosure of personally identifiable information without parental consent only in very limited circumstances and under stringent conditions, none of which apply in this case.

"Moreover, this confidential student information is to be put on a cloud managed by, with few if any protections against data leakage. inBloom Inc. has already stated that it "cannot guarantee the security of the information stored ... or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted" to third party vendors."

Dawn offers several action steps parents can take, some of which may have already begun to pay off in LA: because of protests from parents and his state board of education, John White, the state superintendent of Louisiana,  just announced he was pulling all the state's student data out of inBloom.


Questions remain about whether White has contracts with other vendors.

For more on the situation in LA, you can contact Dawn or visit their web site.  There is more information on this subject regularly posted on the New York Public School Parents Blog.

Update from Oregon 

From PAA affiliate SOS-Oregon's Susan Barrett:

We are trying to foster some bills through this session. We are happy that we have a real champ in the legislature, Rep. Lew Frederick. He is a Democrat from Portland. He has championed many of the issues we care about: testing, addressing poverty (Governor and his education minions seem to ignore this issue), and student data privacy.

These bills are still alive. In Oregon, just keeping a bill from not getting killed seems to be an accomplishment! If someone doesn't like a bill, they can attach a fiscal impact to it that makes it impossible. For example, I think our Oregon Department of Education actually wanted to kill the data privacy bill (After all, they had supported the undermining of FERPA), and they said it would take a minimum of 5 full-time new staff people to implement. This bill remains alive, but what condition in will end up in, is still undecided.

We are also supporting a bill (HB 3426)by a Rep. Jim Weidner,  a Republican that expands opting out. Right now you can only opt out (technically) for religious reasons and disability. It is not a WOW bill, and we can live without it (and still plan to promote opting out either way), but at least it enhances the discussion on the capitol a bit more.

Then there are the big revenue discussions. The same folks that worked their butts off to get Nike a secured tax break for the next 30 years are also working to try to limit revenue this session. There is the added, big debate in PERS reforms. Stand for Children has helped champion PERS reform this session.

We did have a legislator bring forth the Parent Trigger Bill, but that hasn't gone anywhere, and it was recommended we not even discuss it or that would draw attention to it and make it come alive, so to speak.

We know many an educator pulling their hair out over Common Core. I hate the fact that some make this a party line issue. While there are certainly some nutty right wing arguments about CCSS, the teachers we know are upset about how these are being implemented, and how these are against what they know to be good teaching practices. Some are of the mindset that if we can at least not have the SBAC and then allow educators and parents more of say in education policy, maybe we can make the best of things. Some feel that wouldn't even make things better.

We have some good folks we know running for school board in various districts. We haven't promoted them - as an org as we don't know how much we can do that. Something we will be figuring out.

There is certainly more going on, but that's the update for now.

News from Austin

From Lorie Barzano in TX, Chair of PAA affiliate Coalition SAUS (Strengthen Austin Urban Schools):

I send this update by way of warning for those parents out in the trenches battling local politics and state legislatures on behalf of public education. Beware of the well-funded forces that will not hesitate to confront or attack you personally and the structural tools even elected officials will use inequitably, unfairly to silence your message. Be prepared. Call out the inequity civilly when it happens. Have a ready, rational, insightful talking point response to the backlash.
I recently testified at Senate Education Committee hearings against two separate "back-door" voucher bills. These two bills (SB-23 & SB-1575) represent a small sample of dozens of "back-door" voucher bills currently under consideration by the TX Legislature.

Link to hearing audio here:  


  • Lorie's testimony against SB23 (tax credit/scholarship voucher program) starts at 15:00 (15 min) Senate Education Committee, April 9/Part II
  • Lorie's testimony against SB1575 (savings/grant voucher program) starts at 1:20:50 (1 hr, 20 min, 50 sec) Senate Education Committee, April 9/Part II 

In testifying, Lorie notes two important (and potentially intimidating or overwhelming) realities often faced by those of us parents standing up to speak out on behalf of public education.

First, Senator Dan Patrick, Republican Chair of the Education Committee and sponsor of SB-23, played to a hearing room packed with hundreds of private school parents and students, all clad in bright blue superman shirts with neon yellow fleece scarves. Bussed in to support the back-door voucher bills, they did not hesitate to heckle, admonish and yell out questions at those attempting to testify against the use of public education funding for private school tuition.

Second, the Committee Chair allowed those speaking on behalf of SB-1575 (one of the back-door voucher bills) to testify with an unlimited amount of time. Some of them spoke for as long as twenty minutes each. Yet, when Lorie's (and others) turn came to testify against SB-1575, the Chair immediately hit the automatic timing device and limited testimony against the bill to two minutes.

Read more about the "back-door" voucher bills currently under consideration in Texas here.


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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