PAA Action News
Nov. 7, 2013

Welcome to PAA Action News, the information and action newsletter of Parents Across America.
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PAA Action Alert

E-mail Senator's letter
on student data privacy 
to your legislators

Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey recently sent a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan raising concerns about whether current federal student records laws adequately protect student privacy.

In 2011, Duncan's department changed the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations to allow for third-party data sharing without parental consent. Sen. Markey wants to know why these changes were made, and if they overstepped the intent of Congress.

The senator's letter said, "Such loss of parental control over their child's educational records and performance information could have long-standing consequences for the future prospects of students." 

The letter cited a recent New York Times article on the controversy over inBloom Inc.'s involvement in several states' student data collection activities. That article included a quote from PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson. 

You can share Senator Markey's letter with your Senators and Congressman along with a message like this:

I oppose Secretary Duncan's changes to FERPA which allow the disclosure of confidential student information without parental consent. This information is being shared with private companies that have no public oversight or accountability. Data may include students' names, addresses, test scores, grades, attendance, economic, health and special education status, and detailed disciplinary records. It is likely to be stored in a vulnerable "cloud" and made available to third-party for-profit vendors to help them develop and market learning and other products. There are huge risks involved in this violation of our children's privacy, including potential data leaks.

I urge Congress to investigate the concerns outlined in this recent letter from Senator Edward Markey to Secretary Duncan, and take appropriate steps to protect our children's privacy and restore parental knowledge about and control of what data is collected about our children and with whom it is shared.

Please support Sen Markey's call for a review of FERPA regulations.
PAA and PAAers in the News

PAA founding member closes in on school board win!

The numbers look promising for PAA founding member and co-founder of PAA-Seattle, Sue Peters, who is running for Seattle school board.

As of 8 pm last night, the results were:
        • Sue Peters 50381 votes (52.03%)
    • Suzanne Dale Estey 46157 votes (47.67%) 
Mail-in ballots must be collected and counted, so final tallies will not be in for a few more days. 
Sue's modest campaign budget looked tiny compared with the $128,000 her opponent raised from corporate reform interests. But Sue's platform of common-sense, student-centered education seems to have outweighed the moneyed interests. 

It is great news when strong supporters of public schools run for school board, and even better when they win! However, as a non-partisan, non-profit organization, PAA does not endorse candidates for public office.

You can check on the latest Seattle school board results here.

Walk-ins in NC

PAA North Carolina affiliate Public Schools First NC has been involved in several Walk-In Events for Public Education across the state. Public Schools First NC Chair Yevonne Brannon is highlighted in the group's press release and news coverage. An op-ed by Yvonne was published in the News Observer.

According to the press release, the group organized the most recent march on Nov.  4 to highlight the fact that North Carolina's public school teachers are being asked to do more with even less than before. The 2013-15 biennial budget eliminates 9,306 education positions. Class sizes are growing while support is decreasing. The budget allocation for textbooks, technology, and classroom supplies is inadequate to give teachers the resources necessary to provide students with the education they deserve. For all of their hard work, teachers received only one negligible raise in the past five years and now, many will not receive salary increases for advanced degrees. Worst of all, teachers will lose career status (protection from retaliatory or arbitrary firings) and job security (all teachers will be placed on temporary, year-to-year contracts).
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

More walk-in action in NC

Another PAA affiliate in North Carolina, MecklenburgACTS, also participated in a walk-in at Shamrock Gardens Elementary in Charlotte, according to PAA founding member Pamela Grundy. Pictured right is one of the smallest marchers!

PAA-Indiana Urban Education conference free to PAA!

If you can get to Indianapolis this Saturday, you can take part in the "Active in Urban Education Conference" for free.

Organized by PAA-Indiana leader Delana Ivey, the conference was born of a need for a wider conversation about education in Indianapolis. "You are invited. We will all listen. This is your time to explore selected education topics by sharing your knowledge and experiences, while learning from fellow conference participants. Trained facilitators are there to move the group conversation forward and scribe themes and ideas."

PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff will present a session on PAA's national action network.

For more information and to register, please go to the event website here.

Chicago inBloom forum with Leonie Haimson

Don't forget the upcoming forum on inBloom in Illinois on Thursday, November 21 in Chicago, featuring PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson.  

Details here.

Don't miss these testing stories

Lourdes Perez Ramirez, leader of PAA affiliate HispanEduca, wanted to be sure you all saw these two great stories on the growing opt out of testing movement: 
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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