PAA Action News
May 23, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Last chance to register for our Parent Trigger webinar!

It's sold as "parent empowerment" but it's really about privatization - and it may be coming to your state soon -- if it hasn't already arrived!

It's called the parent trigger and it's the topic of PAA's next webinar on Sunday, May 26th, at 12:30 PM Pacific time, 3:30 PM Eastern time.

Our guests will be Lori Yuan, a parent from Adelanto, CA, who was active in the resistance to the Parent Revolution-driven parent trigger campaign there, and PAA founding member Rita Solnet, who just spearheaded the successful opposition to a trigger bill in Florida. The moderator will be PAA President Dora Taylor.

Learn from two activist parents what to look our for and what works in dealing with this growing attack on public education. It should be a great discussion!

Register here.

If you can't participate, we will offer a recording of the webinar online afterwards. Watch here for the url.

And be sure to read this excellent Update on the Parent Trigger, a new PAA blog post this week.  


PAA and PAAers in the News
Sharon on Gulen charter schools

PAA founding member Sharon Higgins from Oakland CA was interviewed by Shaun Johnson and Tim Slekar of At the Chalk Face about the Gulen Movement & its charter schools on Sunday, May 19th. Her segment starts @ 32:00 minutes into the recording.

Sharon writes the eye-opening Charter School Scandals blog and is the leading expert on the Gulen schools, the nation's largest and most secretive charter school company. There's probably a Gulen school near you - or a plan to open one, so check it out!  


School closing tragedy in Chicago

It's all over the news that the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 schools yesterday. PAA Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) held a press conference the day before the vote with 6 child mental health experts who spoke about the potential damage school closings can cause to students.

The PURE press release is here and the full statements from the six experts and other advocates are here.

There was some good coverage in the press including this report in the Chicago Tribune and this clip on the local ABC station news:

Mental health experts are seeing first-hand how the biggest school closing in the nation is already affecting the students. "I think the most important part of this is they feel disregarded, devalued - they feel like nobody cares that their school matters to them," said Erika Schmidt, of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. Schmidt works in closing and receiving schools. She and others say CPS is not even close to being prepared for handling the emotional needs of the kids. In addition, Schmidt says CPS is controlling what is being communicated to schools about the closings. "My understanding is the principals are given scripts to talk to teachers about what could and couldn't say about the closings," said Schmidt. When asked about the principal scripts, CPS and the mayor stuck to their script. They spoke again about closing schools to provide a better education. As for emotional support, CPS says closing school students will have an 8 week class with a social worker. Mental health experts say much more is needed.


The local CBS station included a clip of PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff with this quote: "This is the year for school closings and I think our mayor wants to be the number one school closer in the country."

You can watch the full panel presentations on the damage of school closings on children's social-emotional health on You Tube 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
Walking the walk!
PAA-Seattle leader Sue Paters

Two of our chapter leaders are now running for school board!

Here's what Sue Peters, PAA founding member from Seattle, told us:

Hi everyone,

I filed today for Seattle School Board!
Here's my initial web site with some info.
Read more on Sue's blog post, "Why I am Running for School Board."

Don Wheeler,
leader of PAA-South Bend (IN), is also running. He writes:

I will be one of the candidates interviewing next Tuesday to complete a term on the South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees. The gentleman holding the seat died recently, and the remaining members have to appoint a replacement very shortly. 
501c3 restrictions

As a potential tax-exempt charity, PAA may not endorse or otherwise support individual candidates for elected office. However, we can report on and express our admiration for PAA members who have decided to take this important step toward making a difference in public education.   

Good luck to you both!

Testing blog post from South Carolina

Check out this excellent article, "How High Stakes Standardized Testing Affects Your Child," written by a leader of South Carolina PAA affiliate Charleston Area Community Voice for Education, Sarah Johnson. Sarah writes,

Parents are pleading with state and local leaders to stop the testing madness and to focus on increasing learning opportunities in school. Unfortunately, South Carolina leaders continue to propose "reforms" that tie teacher evaluation to student test scores, and CCSD leaders have adopted policies to use test scores even more aggressively in teacher evaluation and pay.....

What can you do to ensure that teachers are given the freedom to teach what is important and students are given the opportunity to learn?  What do you value in education?  Parents do have the power to bring about change.  Start with a conversation.

More from PAA's Charleston affiliate:

South Carolina actually has some good news on the legislative front. SC has lately been the target of the tax credit/tax credit for private and home schoolers (thanks to money from Howard Rich) as well as the place for Florida reruns. So here's what happened this week, with kudos to many groups, but especially to, an actual grassroots organization we collaborate with.

This week our state senate had a bout of sanity. They defeated Amendment 54 to the state budget which provided for tax credits and tax deductions for parent "choice". The vote wasn't close or along party lines.

And earlier in the week, a senator put a hold (essentially killing it) on S516, the "Read to Succeed" Act, a cheap knockoff of the  Florida reading program, but even worse, would retain third graders not reading at grade level.

The Senate felt the pressure from a lot of people. The Choice people are not happy campers.

Peter Smyth
Charleston Area Community Voice for Education

PAA President Dora Taylor
MAP scrapped in Seattle

PAA President Dora Taylor reports with much pleasure that the MAP test has been scrapped in Seattle's high schools.

This followed massive protests and a test boycott by high school teachers, students and parents, including much work by PAA-Seattle. Congratulations to all! 

Two Chicago LSCs sign National Resolution

PAA co-founder Julie Woesthoff is happy to report that two parent-run local school councils (LSCs) in Chicago have signed the National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing, following efforts by More Than a Score, a local coalition convened by PAA affiliate PURE to reach out to these school governance bodies with information and an LSC Testing Toolkit. They are hoping to encourage more LSCs to sign on in the coming months and to consider using their budgetary power to limit test prep and other expenses relating to standardized testing.

News from PAA-Indiana
Delana Ivey signs up to start a PAA chapter in Indiana

Greeting PAA FOLKS!
This Wednesday (yesterday) PAA- Indiana will present to the largest school district in the state. Indianapolis Public School has started having community engagement meetings. PAA-IN will present ourselves to the IPS school board. We will present the mission statement of what works and what doesn't. My goal is for the Board to take a stand on High stakes testing. I have gathered info from Our second goal is to inform the public about PAA. We have a whole 20 mins to present. I hope to make it has interesting as a TED talk.
Indiana PAA contact:
Delana Ivey

Texas founding member reaches out to help Illinois

I'm delighted that the Illinois Senate has adopted HB 494 imposing a moratorium of one year on virtual schools in response to the k12, inc application for a virtual school in suburban Chicago, which was rejected by 18 school districts. In addition to providing info to NEA and AFT for their affiliates, I contacted a Tennessee state representative, Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville, and shared additional information about other state's concerns with virtual schools as she was speaking to a group in Geneva, Illinois. A reporter then wrote me for more information, which resulted in a great article,

I provided more material to the House and State sponsors of HB 494 and this week the bill passed and has gone to the governor for his approval. If the governor signs the bill, as far as I know Illinois will be the first state to place a moratorium on virtual school expansion.

I have followed the virtual school issue since k12, inc started about a dozen years ago. There is an expansion of virtual schools proposed in the Texas legislature, and HB 1926 passed the Senate last night, but it is subject to modification in the conference committee and procedural rules concerning placement on the state calendar. It is premature to call any legislation alive or dead at this time with sine die Monday 5/27.

We are hopeful about some "anti-testing" bills as well as killing privatization / voucher bills, but it's not over til it's over!
Karen Miller      
PAA Blog Highlights

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