PAA Action News
May 30, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Hold the Trigger!

Scheduling problems caused a last-minute cancellation of our parent trigger webinar. We apologize for the inconvenience. We'll reschedule and let you know - watch this space!

Meanwhile, there were two major stories over the weekend that call into question the parent trigger and the actions of its promoter, Parent Revolution.

First, a former PR "volunteer" reported in the San Bernardino (CA) Sun that he and others were promised big money and perks to go around the country hyping trigger laws and the dismal "Won't Back Down" movie.

Second, a well-respected principal was fired after a PR-organized petition drive got enough parent signatures to take this parent trigger-approved action. The story in the LA Times reports that all but one of the school's teachers have requested a transfer.

That's not what PAA thinks real parent empowerment looks like. 

Read new PAA blog post "Principal removal and REAL parent empowerment."
And be sure to read our new Update on the Parent Trigger.    


PAA and PAAers in the News
Helen for Mayor! 
No, that's not a political endorsement. PAA founding member, Helen Gym, leader of PAA affiliate Parents United for Public Education, was recently named one of 17 better ideas for mayor of their fair city by Philadelphia Magazine, which wrote,  "Imagine what education activist Helen Gym could do at a mayoral debate."

We can imagine that! Check out Helen's strengths below!

Rita a finalist for Bammy award

We can actually make an endorsement for this non-political position. Congratulations to PAA founding member Rita Solnet of PAA affiliate Teaching is Not Testing in Florida, and PAA-Florida, who was just named a finalist for the Bammy Awards in the category "Parent Group Leaders."

According to their web site, the Bammy Awards is a cross-discipline honor 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.  

Speaking out against vouchers in NC

In a quote in the News & Observer on a voucher bill moving through the state legislature, PAA founding member from North Carolina, Natalie Beyer, expressed  her concern that money will be increasingly drained from public schools:

"Once you open that pot of public money, the General Assembly is going to get an infinite number of demanding parents down here," said Natalie Beyer, a Durham County school board member and a volunteer board member with the group Public Schools First NC. "The money will grow."  

More on Chicago school closings

From Education Week: Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, which has been involved in protesting the closings, expects a push to change the school board from mayor-appointed to one elected by the citizens. "We have a fairly strong base of angry people here in Chicago right now," she said. "We do think the legislature is a place to go [for change.] So many of our elected legislators have felt dismissed in these discussions. They're feeling the same way that a lot of parents, students, and teachers are feeling-which is that the decisions that are being made are being made against the best interests of the community and children".....Woestehoff says there is reason to be concerned for the sense of safety and security for the children who have to move and for their educational continuity. "Losing Track," a Catalyst Chicago report of what happened last year when four elementary schools closed, said that 11 percent of the children "fell through the cracks"-with no official knowledge of where they went.

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
PAA Austin TX affiliate to co-sponsor testing forum

PAA affiliate Coalition SAUS leader Lorie Barzano invites you to this important event:

Ending High Stakes Testing: Where do we go from here?

Saturday, June 1, 1:00 - 3:00 PM
Carver Branch Library, Rosewood & Angelina (Austin TX)

Speakers include:
  • Edy Chamness - Director of Texas Parents Opt Out of State Tests
  • Cindy Beringer - 26 year Texas public school teacher
  • Jesse Hagopian - Leading teacher in the Seattle teachers MAP test boycott (calling in from Seattle) 
A nation-wide resistance against high-stakes testing has begun to take shape in the forms of parent opt-outs, teacher refusals to administer tests and student walk-outs and protests. In Texas, the Legislature is poised to reduce the number of STAAR tests, yet the high stakes for students, teachers and schools remain. How can we build a true movement to save our students, teachers and schools from the grueling testing regime? Students are more than a score! Curriculum is more than standardized test prep! Teachers are more than classroom "drill and kill" sergeants!

Join us for a panel and public conversation on how we can win.

Sponsored by Occupy AISD, Texas Parents Opt Out of State Tests and the Coalition to Strengthen Austin's Urban Schools.

More info: or

Texas legislative update from PAA founding member from Houston Karen Miller

Karen writes: A number of bills related to high stakes testing are sitting on the governor's desk as well as some bad ones related to virtual schools and charter schools.  He has until June 16 to sign, veto or let the bills become law without his signature.

While bills related to vouchers, tax credits, achievement school district, and strengthening parent trigger failed to pass, less than an hour after Sine Die on Monday, 5/27, Governor Perry called a 30 day special session  to deal with re-districting. While the call is limited to addressing the US Supreme Court decision on re-redistricting, the call can be expanded to other topics and the Lt. Governor has suggested vouchers be included.

My senator, Dan Patrick, founder of the Tea Party legislative caucus and chair of the Senate Education Committee, filed a "Texas Equal Opportunity Scholarship Program" yesterday. So vigilance is necessary, celebrations premature.  

Hopefully the next special session will be devoted to public education, namely, fixing the school finance system which a lower court ruled unconstitutional and will head to the state supreme court.

On the funding side, the legislature increased the education budget but did not restore the $5 billion in cuts from the previous biennium.  

Given that Texas adds about 1000 to 1500 residents per day (and gained 4 congressional seats as a result of the last census), the annual student enrollment increases of about 85,000 is close to adding the state of Vermont.  Infrastructure is strained in terms of dealing with the growth and years of inadequate funding of basic state services.

Unfortunately, the Governor's legislative priorities included tax breaks this year, which amounts to about $1 billion plus.  

Our state is wealthy yet does not invest in children and families.  Our current rank in education funding is near the bottom according to NEA.    
PAA Blog Highlights

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