PAA Action News
June 13, 2013

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PAA Action Alert

Not just another petition? 

Yes, there are a lot of petitions and sign-ons these days. Do they do any good?


This one, called the Declaration to Rebuild America, gets at most of PAA's priority issues and includes a good mix of people and organizations as early endorsers. It may be an indication that the message of true education progressives is becoming clearer and more unified.  


The full Declaration is too long to reproduce here, but its main aspects are very similar, for example, to PAA's statement of beliefs.



With ESEA back on the table, we need a strong message  


A strong, unified message from public school advocates is especially critical now that Congress has gone back to work on reauthorizing (revising) what used to be called the No Child Left Behind Act, now the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA.


Here's a summary of an ESEA proposal released earlier this week by the Democratic Senate education committee chair Tom Harkin. There's also a good analysis of the proposal from Ed Week's Alyson Klein, a handy side-by-side comparison chart of the Senate and House proposals, and a critique by Monty Neill of FairTest, who raises concerns that Harkin's bill maintains the overemphasis on testing and punishment and fails to provide needed support for schools.     


The Declaration includes seven principles including opposition to school privatization and high-stakes testing, as well as the need for equitable funding and a more engaging curriculum. It makes recommendations in seven areas including better assessments, effective discipline, and meaningful engagement of parents and others in setting school policy.


The statement concludes: "As a nation, we're failing to provide the basics our children need for an opportunity to learn. Instead, we have substituted a punitive high-stakes testing regime that seeks to force progress on the cheap. But there is no shortcut to success. We must change course before we further undermine schools and drive away the teachers our children need."


Take a look at the document and consider signing and sharing with friends, colleagues, and your Congressional representatives.

PAA and PAAers in the News
PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson speaks at massive NY rally

There was a massive "One Voice United" rally on Saturday, June 8, in Albany, NY, which brought together an estimated 25,000 teachers, parents, students and others in support of public education.

PAA co-founder and head of PAA affiliate Class Size Matters was one of the speakers at the rally. Her speech included:

Children need good schools. Children need small class sizes. Children need experienced and caring teachers...But instead of giving New York's children what they need, the Governor, the Legislature and the Regents are intent on giving our kids more tests. Parents are outraged as to how our public schools are being undermined by policymakers who do not seem to realize how their decisions are hurting New York State's children. 

Media coverage of the event was widespread.

Wendy Lecker on student privacy

Connecticut PAA member Wendy Lecker wrote this excellent article on student data privacy recently published in the Stamford Advocate. Wendy wrote:

the use of computers to collect a wide range of private student data is raising serious privacy alarms. These concerns have been heightened by two major developments: the U.S. Department of Education's relaxation of regulations under FERP A, the federal law governing student privacy; and the creation of massive databases by state education departments, in conjunction with the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Bill Gates.  

Every parent should read and share Wendy's excellent analysis of the dangers of
this new move to warehouse and share student data.

The Philadelphia story

PAA founding member Helen Gym, head of PAA affiliate Parents United for Public Education, writes

For those watching Philadelphia's tragic schools situation from afar, hope you might consider a few pieces from Parents United for Public Education.   
Topping off a dreadful year that saw 24 school closings, and the stripping away of all educational supports from schools (guidance counselors, arts, music, sports, extracurriculuars, librarians, no books and supplies), last week the District laid off an unprecedented 3,783 staff members out of little more than 19,000 staff members, nearly 1 in 5 personnel.   
Parents United's response: This is not a school!

Last night Mayor Nutter appeared on "All In with Chris Hayes" about the Philadelphia budget. Not only did the Mayor, who heads up the controversial US Conference of Mayors, make a miserable case for Philadelphia schools, he made a feeble case for public ed and raised questions about whether public money should go to public schools. Read our response here


Helen was quoted in an Associated Press story about a "Save our Schools" rally at school board headquarters:

"For 10 years we've lived with promises that privatization and choice options would be the magic bullet to a lot of the problems," said parent Helen Gym. "What we found is chasing after these silver bullets has really drained schools of resources and starved them to the point of dysfunction."

The story with Helen's quote was also published in the Huffington Post and other media outlets.

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 Sacramento CA!

We're happy to welcome Tannia Chavez and PAA-Sacramento.

Tannia's motto is "We can make a difference!" Together we can, we have, and we will!

Welcome, Tannia!

Oregon Save Our Schools on the schools Portland students deserve

First, the good news from Susan Barrett, leader of our Oregon PAA affiliate. Susan reports that one of their members was elected to the Portland Public School Board.

The bad news is that the school district sent out a one-sided letter to parents attempting to divide parents and teachers. The letter said,

We are also concerned that before these negotiations even opened in March, PAT leaders brought in organizers from the Chicago Teachers Union to prepare for a strike in Portland....Portland is not Chicago. A teachers strike doesn't have to happen here. It's not what Portland students or families deserve.

The fact is, parents in Chicago strongly supported the teachers' strike, and Portland is probably more like Chicago in that respect than the district imagines!

Susan also shared a recent event their group co-sponsored, called The Schools Portland Students Deserve.   
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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