PAA Action News
Dec. 18, 2014

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

Support Parents Across America

Parents Across America is run by parents for parents, and we depend on contributions from supporters of public education like you. Please help us continue our work to secure a quality public education for all children! You can use the DONATE button on the right hand side of our home page. Please donate now!

In return, we have a gift for you --  a new one-page PAA position paper on
What is a Quality Education?
Open here!
Quality Education for you to post and share.

Several of our members started this project as part of a workshop they presented at our conference last summer. The paper is based on the workshop discussion and other input. Special thanks to Deb Mayer of Oregon Save our Schools, Danielle Arnold-Schwartz of PAA-Suburban Philadelphia, Lisa Fluke of PAA-Ventura County, and Julie Woestehoff, PAA Board secretary. 

We know that no set of bullet points can fully capture the complexities of a quality education. You can find a blog version of the paper which includes links to more detailed PAA papers and blog posts here. We hope that this paper captures a common vision of the kind of schooling we want for our children, and that it will be useful to parents and our member groups.

We'd love your feedback!

Keep up with education legislation

We are hearing that Congress may move fairly quickly on ESEA reauthorization in the new year. In our next newsletter, PAA will offer some updated materials to help you educate your U.S. representatives about what parents are looking for in the new federal education law.

In the meantime, you can revisit the three-point piece we brought to Washington D.C. in July as part of our annual conference, and the letter we sent to the members of the House and Senate education committees who took office in January, 2012. Please use freely in your contacts with your own returning and new members. 

What your state reps can do to stem high-stakes testing

FairTest, the organization that is helping lead the nationwide resistance to high-stakes standardized testing, has prepared an advocacy piece called "What State Legislators can do to Advance Assessment Reform." This is another great piece to share with your local reps.  

PAA and PAAers in the News

PAA-Indiana "Standardized" event,
leader Delana Ivey second from right
Powerful You Tube video of Parent Power "Standardized" event

Delana Ivey, leader of Parent Power and PAA-Indiana, sent us the link to a wonderful discussion these groups sponsored as part of a screening of the "Standardized Movie." Please take a look at this important video.

Right all along?

Anarticle in the alternative newspaper, Chicago Reader, suggests that PAA co-founder Julie Woestehoff and the group, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), were right all along to oppose flunking students based on standardized test scores.

Since the Chicago Public Schools made major cutbacks in the numbers of retained students, the district's graduation rate has increased.

Reader reporter Ben Joravsky writes:

(T)he time has come for former Chicago Public Schools leaders Gery Chico and Paul Vallas, as well as former mayor Richard Daley, to show some love for Julie Woestehoff.


She's the former head of the nonprofit Parents United for Responsible Education, known as PURE. As such, she advocated a philosophy that's similar to the one now championed by Mayor Rahm. Which is beyond ironic.


To her credit, Woestehoff was making the case for promoting students back in the late 90s and early 00s, when Mayor Daley's underlings were holding back upwards of 40,000 kids a year.


For her efforts, Woestehoff was jeered by the powers that be. "PURE is a paid advocacy group with a vested interest in preserving the status quo," Vallas said in one press release from 2000, when he was the schools CEO. "It opposes high standards, accountability and the elimination of social promotion"....


Eventually, under Duncan, CPS eased up on holding kids back. And now the district is going in the opposite direction. Just like Julie said it should!


How satisfying... 

Video from NPE's "Public Education Nation"

PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, leader of NYC's Class Size Matters, shared two video clips from October's Public Education Nation sponsored by Network for Public Education.  


One panel includes Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown on how we will win this fight for public education, and the second is with Carol Burris, Takiema Bunche-Smith, Rosa Rivera-McCutchen and Alan Aja on testing and the Common Core.


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
New Delaware affiliate

We are so pleased to welcome a new affiliate, Delaware Parents and Teachers for Public Education.

Two of the group's members were involved in an ACLU complaint against charter school segregation that you can read about on Diane Ravitch's blog.

Member Kevin Ohlandt is a new blogger on the DE education scene. Check him out at

Another member, Mike Matthews, recently published an op ed in the Delaware News Journal about the inequities teachers face every day. He wrote:

It's not enough for teachers to simply teach in these schools. Most teachers have to attend to the many complex social, emotional and behavioral needs of their students before they can even crack open the textbook.


And this is exactly what the governor and the Department of Education don't seem to understand. While they continue to label and define us based on an ever-changing standardized test and bandy about language ("reapply for our jobs") that is offensive and nearly completely ignores the challenges we face in these schools, our teachers in these priority schools keep showing up.


Delaware Parents and Teachers for Public Education have scheduled their first meeting in Dover on Dec. 19th, having inviting a number of like minded people including three state legislators.


The group's first priority is to expose the pending state takeover of the five priority schools in Wilmington before it happens, which is why they decided to join forces now. They will ask every person who attends the first meeting to email their state representatives, senators and also their superintendents, letting them know that they oppose this action for so many reasons, mainly because it will ultimately harm our children who should be afforded the most consideration.

Contact them at

More news from our chapters and affiliates

Steven Norton, PAA Board member and leader of Michigan Parents for Schools, has written a compelling piece on our blog describing local parents' struggles with what's going on in the state legislature's current lame duck session.  


Michigan lawmakers are attempting to push through some programs that are already being abandoned elsewhere, including A-F "grading" of schools and districts based solely on test scores, flunking students based on third grade reading scores, and expanded powers to take over or close schools. Meanwhile, school funding is taking a hit.   


What's going on in your state? 

PAA Blog Highlights

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

For more....
If you have questions, comments, suggestions or stories to share, please e-mail us at or

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