PAA Action News
Jan. 23, 2014

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PAA Action Alert

Register to join us at the NPE National Conference!

Several PAA founding members will be featured at the first annual Network for Public Education National Conference in Austin TX on March 1 and 2, and other PAA leaders plan to attend.

Speaking at the conference will be Helen Gym from PAA affiliate Parents United for Public Education in Philadelphia, Sue Peters, recent winner of a Seattle school board position and co-founder of PAA-Seattle, Leonie Haimson, from PAA affiliate Class Size Matters in NYC, and Julie Woestehoff, from PAA affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education in Chicago.

The Network for Public Education was formed by Diane Ravitch in 2013 and has become a prominent voice in the education reform debate. During the November 2013 elections, NPE rallied support for successful school board candidates in Bridgeport, CT, Seattle (PAA's Peters) and Atlanta.

The 2014 National Conference will be an opportunity for NPE to coordinate its network of education activists from across the United States in preparation for the 2014 elections. "We are bringing together allies from around the country who really know what is happening on the ground in their own states and communities. One of our main goals in forming our network was to create a means to support candidates willing to defend public education," said Anthony Cody, an NPE co-founder with Ravitch. "By gathering together, we hope to build real momentum, making 2014 the year we turn the tide in the fight for our schools."

PAA co-founder Haimson also serves on the NPE Board.

The conference will take place at the Thompson Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin on March 1 & 2, 2014, the Saturday and Sunday before SXSWedu. The conference will feature more than twenty panels
and workshops, keynote speakers including Ravitch and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, and networking opportunities for education advocates from across the United States

"Our movement demands a positive agenda for change based on love of learning, respect for educators, and dedication to the healthy development of children as good people," Ravitch said. "We hope you will be there and join us as we review the status and condition of our movement to reclaim public education and decide what we should do to grow stronger in the future."

You can find more information about the Network for Public Education 2014 National Conference here. Registration is currently open and the website contains information about the speakers, panels, accommodations and travel.

PAA and PAAers in the News

PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson on MSNBC

Leonie Haimson, head of NYC's Class Size Matters, published an op-ed in the New York Daily News and appeared on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC on the issue of co-location of charter schools in NYC's public schools.

The segment on Perry's show was prompted by a recent swipe by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at the education policy direction of new mayor of NYC Bill DeBlasio, a controversy we highlighted in our last newsletter. Cantor had threatened to call for congressional hearings if deBlasio kept his campaign promises to promote neighborhood public schools, end co-location of charter schools in neighborhood schools, and charge rent to charter schools.
In her op-ed essay, Leonie wrote, "De Blasio recognizes that it is time for these inequitable policies to cease. The city must turn its attention to maximizing opportunities for all children, rather than just a chosen few."

Webinar with PAA founding member Sharon Higgins on Gulen charter schools

Yesterday PAA founding member Sharon Higgins, from California, who writes the amazing blogs Charter School Scandals, the Broad Report and Perimeter Primate, was the guest on a webinar hosted by a local Chicago advocacy group and focused on Gulen movement charter schools.

Please watch the PAA blog or next week's newsletter for a link to watch excerpts from the webinar.

PAA Affiliate Yinzercation in In These Times

Pittsburgh affiliate Yinzercation and its leader, Jesse Ramey,  received a great write-up in In These Times. The story focuses on several successes of a citywide coalition Jesse and Yinzercation helped found called Great Public Schools Pittsburgh. GPSP helped elect a more pro-public school school board that just killed a large Teach for America grant.

Here's what Jesse had to say in the article: 

"We should be making schools welcoming, wonderful environments where both students and teachers want to be every day. Bringing in new people and contributing to constant churn within the school is not the way to do it," says Jessie Ramey, a founding member of GPSP and the mother of two children in Pittsburgh public schools.


In addition to its efforts to elect friendly Board of Education members, GPSP has organized rallies to protest privatization measures and school closings; invited former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch to speak about her recent book, Reign of Error, which analyzes "the hoax of the privatization movement"; and conducted a bus tour through several neighborhoods where the city has closed public schools. "These things have allowed us to shine a spotlight on what's going on," Ramey says.


GPSP also got a supportive mayor in the November elections. Democrat Bill Peduto campaigned on the theme of investing in the city's neglected urban neighborhoods, and the public schools are central to his plans. Over the past year, Ramey worked with one of Peduto's advisors to craft his education policy.

In 2014, GPSP's priority is to push forward positive alternatives to privatizing education, such as community- based public schools. For Ramey, that means "making each of our schools the hub of its community, and bringing resources into each school based on what it needs. The community model is less of a model and more of a mindset. People believe that, by investing in schools, they're investing in their community. They're throwing their arms around each school and saying, 'We're not going to let it close. We're going to get everything in this building that we need.' "


Ramey has been an influential voice in Pittsburgh's education debates since 2011, when she founded the blog Yinzercation (a play on "Yinzer," slang for a native of southwestern Pennsylvania) in response to the state budget cuts.

Go Yinzers!
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

Great new blog posts from PAA-Suburban Philadelphia leader Danielle Schwartz on charter expansion and Common Core

Danielle writes: "I just attended a panel discussion planned by the Pennsylvania NAACP Education Chairperson/Media, PA Chapter President. I wrote a blog entry trying to give historical context and reasons why people in the suburbs need to be concerned about charter expansion. One of my goals from the Suburban Philadelphia chapter is to get people in the suburbs aware that we are in it together with our urban neighbors, and we need to speak up together.

Here's a sample from the blog post:

"I recently attended a panel discussion sponsored by the Media chapter of the NAACP. The topic was charter school expansion and it was quite eye opening. As it turns out, the push for "school choice" is directly connected to resistance to the desegregation of public schools under Brown v. Board of Ed. in 1954.

...Guess when the idea for "School Choice" was imagined by economist, Milton Friedman? 1955. Friedman wrote about his desire for parents to chose if their children would attend racially desegregated schools..."

Danielle also wrote a review of  "Children of the Core" which she refers to as "The Common Core Cliff Notes":

 "The title of this book may seem like an exaggeration (based on Stephen King's, Children of the Corn), but it the easiest Common Core primer yet. Nielsen's voice is that of a friend or trusted colleague. He speaks the truth in an easy-to-read style, and it is a quick read. Read Diane Ravitch's, Reign of Error, for a scholarly look at detailed facts based on her sharp analysis of US Department of Education website data & political knowledge. Read this to easily put the puzzle pieces together. 
Nielsen notes the 3 parts of the Core that tie everything together:

1. The architects of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
2. The standardized testing that accompanies the CCSS.
3. The privatization movement that that closes "failing" schools and sells them to charter operators.

Don't forget to look out for local screening of Standardized: Lies, Money and Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education

PAA Florida affiliate HispanEduca leader Lourdes Perez Ramirez invites every Florida parent to a showing in Orlando of the new movie "Standardized."

The Orlando screening will take place at Howard Middle School, 800 Robinson Street, free for all parents, on Jan. 25 at 1:30 PM.

PAA members will be interested in attending and sharing information about other showings across the U.S. including:

January 13, 7 pm, Southside High School, Rockville Center NY
January 18, 12:30 pm, Zoetropolis Theater, Lancaster PA
January 25, 1:30 pm, Howard Middle School, Orlando FL
January 30, 7 pm, John F. Kennedy High School, Chicago IL
February 6, 6 pm, The Ritz East, Philadelphia PA
February 10, time TBA, South High School, Minneapolis, MN
February 13, time TBA, Cinema Paradiso, Fort Lauderdale FL
February 22, time TBA, Arizona State U, Phoenix AZ

Watch for other screenings here. You can watch a YouTube preview here.

And don't forget the Citizens for Public Schools charter school forum

From PAA Massachusetts affiliate Citizens for Public Schools:

Come join us on Saturday, January 25, at Madison Park High School for a forum and community discussion on charter schools in Massachusetts: Have Charter Schools Broken Their Promises to Parents, Students and the Community?  

(Click here to register now.)
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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