PAA Action News
Jan. 30, 2014

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PAA Action Alert

Find a Standardized screening near you!

The movie Standardized: Lies, Money & Civil Rights, is being screened around the U.S. and attracting lots of attention.

Leader of PAA Florida affiliate HispanEduca, Lourdes Pérez Ramírez, was a panelist at the event and wrote a wonderful report on the great turnout of 400 people and the lively discussion at the January 25 showing in Orlando.

Lourdes wrote:

The public had the opportunity to ask the panel about a myriad of issues including how parents can opt out of these tests without penalizing their children in the future, and even about the possibility of changing Florida's law about high-stake tests.


Two of Florida legislators attended the event in clear support of addressing the negative consequences that the testing frenzy has caused in this increasingly Hispanic state....


The crowd's reactions to the documentary were the best evidence that the event was a total success. "This is an eye-opener," said Myrna Candelario, an education psychologist from Puerto Rico who came from Tampa to get "the gist of this testing issue and how it is affecting children from a psychological perspective."


"Teachers and parents thought they were alone in this, [but they] realized that there is an entire community of people, folks who value teachers, fighting high stakes testing and in favor of authentic assessment," said Cindy Hamilton, co-founder of Opt Out Orlando. 

Lourdes' full report is posted here on the PAA blog.

There are many other showings scheduled around the US. Here's a partial list:

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.

PAA and PAAers in the News

Several PAAers on the agenda at NPE conference

PAA will be well-represented at the Network for Public Education conference March 1-2 in Austin TX. On the program are:
  • Helen Gym from PAA affiliate Parents United for Public Education in Philadelphia, and Jessie Ramey, leader of PAA Pittsburgh affiliate Yinzercation, on a panel about the Role of Parents in teh ADvancement of Public Education.
  • Sue Peters, co-founder of PAA-Seattle, speaking about her recent school board victory.
  • Dora Taylor, PAA President and co-founder of PAA-Seattle, on two panels, one on education blogging and the other on Fighting Venture Philanthropy and Astroturfers.
  • PAA co-founders Leonie Haimson, from PAA affiliate Class Size Matters in NYC, and Julie Woestehoff, from PAA affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education in Chicago, on student data privacy.   

The 2014 National Conference will be an opportunity for NPE to coordinate its network of education activists from across the United States. The conference will take place at the Thompson Conference Center at the University of Texas at Austin on March 1 & 2, 2014. There will be 20 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 


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.

Gulen 101 Session One With Sharon Higgins 

Watch Sharon Higgins' January webinar on Gulen charter schools 



Send Arne Duncan to Mars

PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson suggested in a Salon State of the Union preview article that she was hoping President Obama would announce that he was sending Education Secretary Arne Duncan to Mars.

Well, that didn't happen. Nor did we hear these other comments Leonie suggested:

"President Obama should start by apologizing for the recent comments of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that parents who oppose the harsh overtesting regime that has afflicted our schools are just upset that their children aren't smart enough. He will say he is withdrawing all federal support for the Common Core standards, exams and curriculum until they have been reassessed in a transparent manner by an independent task force of teachers, parents, early childhood experts and special education professionals, with full public input, as opposed to the secretive and incestuous way the standards were developed.

"At the same time, he will eliminate any federal mandates to require high-stakes testing or invalid teacher evaluation systems linked to test scores, and cancel all funding for programs targeted at closing public schools or turning them over to private corporate hands.  He will pledge that the FERPA regulations be immediately revised to protect privacy once again, rather than the way they have been rewritten by the U.S. Department of Education to encourage the tracking and sharing of personal student data without parental consent. He will announce the resumption of manned space flight, starting with a trip to Mars by Arne Duncan and Bill Gates, where they will try out their education experiments on any inhabitants they find there. The president will conclude by announcing that during Duncan's absence, Diane Ravitch will serve as secretary of education."  


Maybe next year.  


Excellent op-ed on opting out by Wendy Lecker

Leader of PAA-CT, Wendy Lecker, wrote this excellent essay in the Stamford Advocate about opting out of Common Core-related SBAC trial tests in Connecticut. The state board of education has attempted to prevent parents from opting out by claiming the tests are required under federal law. Wendy points out that the SBAC trial tests do not conform to state requirements for such mandated tests and that the state is trying to bully parents into letting their children be used as free guinea pigs for test developers.   

Here's a great fact sheet from FairTest about Common Core tests.

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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

Parents to hold opt out forum in Chicago

PAA Chicago affiliate PURE is helping organize a forum on opting out of the state test, the ISAT, which is not being used for any purpose in Chicago this year but will still take up at least 8 half days of instructional time.

The "ICE the ISAT" forum is sponsored by More Than a Score, and will take place on Thursday, February 6 at 6:30 pm at Haas Park in Chicago. Details here

Powerful essay by PAA affiliate HispanEduca leader  

Don't miss this powerful post on the PAA blog by Lourdes Pérez Ramírez, leader of PAA affiliate HispannEduca, based in Florida. Lourdes has deep knowledge of  the standardized test publishing industry. Her view of the incursion of the American College Tests (ACT) into Florida is a must-read. Here's a sample:    


ACT has been courting Florida for more than 4 years, making fun & enjoying students' failure with FCAT. After all, money speaks, right @ACT?

What an irony! The testing mogul is coming to a state where Hispanics are becoming the majority minority in many counties. However, in 2011 ACT (specifically ACT former Media Relations Director, Scott Gomer and former Communications VP, Rose Rennekamp) told HispanEduca's founder, that, and I quote:

"Messaging Hispanics is not an ACT business strategy."

PAA Blog Highlights

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