PAA Action News
Oct. 17, 2013

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Take the ACLU inBloom poll

The ACLU of Illinois, which partnered with PAA and other national and local Chicago groups last week to challenge the plan to upload and share the state's student data without parental permission, has set up a poll to ask for public reaction to the issue.

So far, it's 96% no sharing, 1% yes.

You don't have to live in Illinois to vote (and Chicagoans can vote more than once, OK?). 
PAA and PAAers in the News

More on Illinois inBloom challenge

The pushback to Illinois' plan to share student data via inBloom whic PAA helped organize last week received some press attention including this article in the local education reform journal, Catalyst, and on the Chicago news radio station WBBM-AM.

The radio story included this quote from PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, head of Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education:

The InBloom database upload is an invasion of privacy, masquerading as a program to individualize educational programs....uploading personal data like disciplinary records, information on disabilities, and parental income - along with the child's name - will allow colleges and future employers to track each pupil back to the beginning of their education. They're claiming that it will benefit the students if private vendors can tailor educational programs to their needs. We think that's a bunch of bunk.


PAAer gives grading schools an "F"    


PAA founding member Pamela Grundy, co-chair of North Carolina-based Mecklenburg ACTS, wrote an editorial published this week in the Charlotte Observer about the new push in the state to give schools letter grades.    


The school Pamela's son attended just got a D-minus.


In her article, Pamela describes all the good things the school has done over the past few years to provide a better education for its students. She points out that the school faces significant challenges, including a population of about 10% homeless students. She concludes: 


The purveyors of the A-F grading system argue that the "newfound transparency" of the system will spur teachers and parents to work harder to improve their schools. I predict a far different scenario.


State-mandated A-F grades will intensify the focus on the narrow range of material that standardized tests cover, compounding the well-documented damage that this kind of testing has done to American education. And because they will paint a portrait that is often far more negative than reality, they will further undercut confidence in North Carolina public schools and teachers. Most families will not try to improve schools labeled with D-minuses. Rather, they will do their best to avoid them.


It is perhaps not surprising that the proponents of A-F grading, including the American Legislative Exchange Council and CarolinaCAN's parent organization, 50CAN, are also prominent backers of expanding charter schools and vouchers. One way to build support for charters and vouchers, of course, is to convince parents and politicians that public schools are worse than they actually are.


If our legislators truly want to help our public schools improve, they should abandon their harmful plans for A-F grading and turn their efforts to measures that will make a positive difference in children's educational experiences. They should restore class-size caps, reduce the number of time-consuming standardized tests and raise teacher pay to more respectable levels.

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
Upcoming Elections: The Effect on Public Education
Kimberly Brooks

A report from Kimberly Brooks, leader of PAA-Atlanta Public Schools:

I attended an electors forum for the board of education. One of the panel questions was about operations and clusters followed by what characteristics a superintendent should have. This new "clustering" is definitely on the table. 

For those of you who don't know, a cluster system is similar to the traditional feeder-school system. From kindergarten to twelve, students within the same community will attend a set of schools within that community. The catch is that these different communities are asking for funding for their clusters within the school system independently. 

All officials did discuss the decentralization of school systems management to ultimately place the principals in a position to manage their schools. While this sounds good, it is made with the assumption that the right principals with the right values and experience are in these positions. This is not true. Our schools have yet to provide permanent principals in each school since the cheating scandal, an effort that requires a stable board and superintendent to start with. So...most of the candidates appear business oriented more than community and educational leaders.

To make a long story longer (lol), after attending another forum for officials running for city council it appears that this election could be the start of not only more privatization in our school system but an intentionally disproportionate allocation of education resources and funds. Students are gauged by a community's ability to provide for the students' needs versus Atlanta Public Schools' budget to supply those needs to those economically disadvantaged.

So, this "clustering" idea could be a trap. Those schools and students can then be easily targeted for "educational reform" and labeled students that "just don't perform well," ultimately justifying decentralization because the needs of "these" students burden the system. I feel that Atlanta Public Schools systems does not have the foundation to make these decisions yet. Our leadership is unstable.

Florida state senator needs our help opposing more tests

Maria de Lourdes Pérez Ramírez, the leader of PAA's Florida-based affilate, HispanEduca, met with a Florida legislator who told her that the state is considering hiring ACT and all its testing battery. He is opposed - but needs our help.

Lourdes says, "This is a good opportunity to directly help a legislator who is against standardized testing altogether, but he is asking for alternatives. This is one instance we need to join as many forces as possible (teachers, parents, organizations, and the public) and make ourselves public."

Florida folk, please reach out to support her and the legislator at

PISA day

Lourdes also wants to share this announcement:

Save the Date for the official release of results from the OECD's 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)

> PISA Day 2013
> Tuesday, December 3, 2013
> 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. (ET)
> Washington, DC

Please reserve December 3, 2013, to attend and participate in PISA Day, an event complete with meetings and digital presentations focused on the results of the 2012 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and their implications for U.S. education policy from practices of high-performing nations in using assessments to advance college- and career -ready standards.

Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), will present the findings. Representatives from partner organizations will comment on the findings and the lessons for U.S. policymakers and educators.

 Please direct questions to Bob Rothman at 202-828-0828 or     
PAA Blog Highlights

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

In addition to the post referenced in the stories above is this new post:
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