PAA Action News
May 1, 2014

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

Share PURE's Stupid PARCC Tricks!

PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, head of PAA Chicago affiliate Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), has started a feature on her local blog called Stupid PARCC Tricks. For this week's PAA Action, use your social media networks to share PURE's first Stupid PARCC Trick.

PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, the consortium that is writing the Common Core tests many states will use beginning next year. Other states will use tests written by the "Smarter Balanced Assessment Coalition."

At a Chicago testing forum earlier this week, one of the presenters shared several sample PARCC test questions. One such question asks third graders to define the adjective "cross" - but the choices do not include any of the synonyms commonly used to define that word.

PAA and PAAers in the News

PAA Board member Steven Norton
PAA Board of Directors Member honored

Steven Norton, executive director of PAA affiliate Michigan Parents for Schools, and member of the PAA Board of Directors, was the 2014 recipient of the David McMahon Human Rights Award given by the Michigan Education Association. The McMahon award is given annually to recognize "individuals or groups outside the MEA which distinguish themselves by courageously accepting the challenge of moral  and ethical leadership in the field of human and civil rights."

In presenting the award on 25 April, Ann Arbor Education Association president Linda Carter said: "Steven Norton believes that every child deserves to develop as fully as possible, and for him, a quality education is central to that effort.... He's fought for those convictions at the state Capitol, at PTO meetings, and on [the MIPFS] website." Carter concluded by saying, "His own children are a reminder of why he's so involved in the support of public education. His efforts to build bridges and alliances, to make sure public education is supported and valued, and to involve parents in every child's education are challenges Steven Norton accepts as a leader in the field of human and civil rights."

Norton accepted the award on behalf of all his colleagues who have worked to make Michigan Parents for Schools an effective voice for parents to support and defend strong, community-governed public education.

PAA co-founder on imbalance of white students
in Chicago's selective enrollment high schools

A story by the Chicago Sun-Times Watchdog reporters Tim Novak and Chris Fusco exposed the imbalance of white students in Chicago's four north side selective enrollment high schools, and the fact that the disproportionate number of white students has become even more lopsided since the courts ended the Desegregation Consent Decree in 2009.

As they developed the story, the Sun-Times reporters met with PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff, of PAA Chicago affiliate PURE, and quoted her saying,  "I consider these schools to be gated communities for children of privilege."

Op ed from PAA's Pamela Grundy

Another excellent article on the perils of standardized testing misuse by PAA founding member and Board of Directors member Pamela Grundy was published this week in the Charlotte News and Observer.

Pam and fellow activist Janna Siegel Robertson wrote:

Across North Carolina, this has been the worst third-grade year in memory for teachers, students and families. The General Assembly's requirement that third-graders must pass the End of Grade reading exam in order to be promoted has drained countless third-grade classes of the excitement that comes with reading and learning and turned the last months of third grade into a slog of worksheets, test practice and stress....

If our legislators genuinely want to improve public education in North Carolina, they can do far better than following the lead of those who copy problematic policies from states whose students perform less well overall than North Carolina students. As the General Assembly reconvenes, voters need to let them know that we plan to hold them to legitimate higher standards, ones that draw on practices with strong evidence of effectiveness, respect the judgment of parents and educators and support our children as precious individuals.

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

PAA President to host brunch
for Seattle teachers' union slate 

PAA President Dora Taylor is helping host an "Elect Respect Community Brunch and Fundraiser" for Jesse Hagopian and the Seattle Education Association Respect Slate this Sunday, May 4th at 1:00 PM in the home of a Seattle School parent.


RSVP here and the address and directions will be provided to you.


Jesse Hagopian and the Respect Slate are in the midst of a campaign that will determine the direction of the Seattle Education Association (SEA). They need our support to turn the Union into an organization that fights for the interests of students, teachers, and parents alike.


Jesse became a national hero for helping organize the teacher boycott of the NWEA MAP tests last year.  


City Council Member Nick Licata, School Board Director and PAA founding member Sue Peters and Real Change Director Tim Harris support Garfield High School history teacher, Jesse Hagopian, for Seattle Education Association President. Join them and others in supporting a slate that will:

* Fight for fair and meaningful student assessments
* Stand for fair and sustainable teacher evaluation
* Demand and fight for full funding of education
* Protect our right to teach culturally relevant curriculum
* Engage families and community

Parents, teachers, students, and community members are all invited.   


Join Dora and PAA-Seattle for the Standardized movie     


Seattle students now receive hours of standardized testing from the MAP test to the MSP and soon more testing related to the Common Core Standards. PAA President Dora Taylor, founder of PAA-Seattle, invites the community to join PAA-Seattle on May 14th at 6:30 PM to view the film "Standardized" and participate in an informal panel discussion.


This event is free to all. Parents, students, teachers and concerned citizens are invited.  


Location: Northwest Film Forum, at 1515 12th Ave, Seattle, 98122 in the Capitol Hill area.


To RSVP, please send a short message to


This movie is sponsored by Seattle Education and Parents Across America, Seattle.


More action in Charlotte   


PAA's Pamela Grundy also reports that one of their NC opt-out moms wrote a great entry about the group's ongoing experiences on her blog.

PAA Charlotte NC affiliate is helping organize a Community Rally for Public Education to be held in Charlotte on May 10.


This event will be at the first Moral Monday of the legislative season in Raleigh that begins on May 19.


Details are on the flyer to your left and on the web site. is a supporting sponsor, and they hope to get a big turnout in order to let state legislators know how serious their voters are about improving the conditions in which our state's teachers work, and our state's children learn.

Meck-Ed will have a "testing section" at the rally that specifically addresses testing.

They offered three Advocacy Training sessions during April, which focused on how to encourage state legislators to raise average teacher pay in North Carolina.  


They have also posted an online advocacy toolkit.


PURE testimony on testing


PAA Board Secretary and founding member Julie Woestehoff, of Chicago's PURE,  testified at two separate legislative hearings this week on topics relating to standardized testing.


She spoke to members of the Illinois Senate Education Committee holding a subject matter hearing on testing. Her testimony covered various aspects of standardized testing misuse and overuse, including student retention, teaching to the test, and inappropriate testing of young children. She offered suggestions for improving  assessment and recommended an explicit parental opt out right in state law.   


Julie also submitted testimony to a state Truancy Task Force which is meeting to develop recommendations for stemming the epidemic of truancy in the Chicago Public Schools. Her comments suggested that high-stakes testing may be driving many students out of school.     


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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