PAA Action News
Mar. 12, 2015

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PAA Action Alert

Keep up the pressure
on Congress and ESEA!

Yes, we're sounding like a broken record, but the nation has been waiting for a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for 8 years, and we're likely to get one within the next month or so, which means that the next 2-3 weeks are our last and best opportunity to have any significant effect on federal K-12 education policy for a long time to come.

It's real now, folks.

What's happening in the House

The House already has a bill on the floor. HR 5, the Republican version, has little to recommend itself to us (see PAA's position chart on HR 5 here).

Although HR 5 was pulled from consideration for lack of votes in the House on Feb. 27, we hear that it may come back on the floor as soon as next week. 
Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, offered a substitute amendment which has a few attractive features.   The amendment:  
  • requires reporting of the resources given to schools and other indicators beyond test scores to be included in school accountability systems;
  • does not allow HR 5's fund "portability" -- which simply opens the door to vouchers;
  • allows for piloting of performance-based assessment systems; and
  • restores the requirement for "maintenance of effort," which is a way of keeping funding at current levels and prohibiting states and districts from cutting back on other funding by simply replacing it with federal funds.

But this amendment doesn't do enough to address problems with standardized testing, charter school proliferation, and other problems brought on by NCLB.    


What's happening in the Senate


A Senate ESEA bill has yet to come out of the Senate education committee, where Republicans and Democrats say they are trying to produce a bipartisan bill. We hear that the target date for a bill is the second week of April, after a Congressional spring break. There is a decent chance that annual testing will be removed from the Senate proposal in favor of grade-span testing.

PAA has prepared another 1-page chart with our positions on testing and other elements of committee chair Lamar Alexander's ESEA proposal.


What you can do    


1) Use this handy form from FairTest to contact your Senators on grade span testing.   


2) Call your Senator's district office and make an appointment to see him/her and/or his/her aide during the upcoming break, March 30-April 10. In-person visits by constituents are one of the most effective ways to influence your representatives.  

3) Keep working on your House reps. Dissension in the Republican ranks, including those who want to do away with the Department of Education and Common Core/national testing entirely, gives us time and some opportunity to keep pressing our points as outlined in our 1-page chart. So, consider making an appointment with your Congressperson during the break. Even if HR 5 has passed by then, there will be negotiations between the Senate and the House on any final ESEA bill, so House votes will still be important.


You can also send a message to the House ed committee staff here:  


PAA and PAAers in the News


This excellent story aired on PBS yesterday featuring our wonderful PAA affiliate leader, Julie Sass-Rubin, founder of SOS-New Jersey, and her smart, lovely daughter Raisa, who talk about opting out of the PARCC test.

The video briefly flashed on the above archived web photo of PAAers at the Save Our Schools March in 2012 as an example, we guess, of "the left" in the Common Core testing controversy, juxtaposed with a representative of the Eagle Forum as "the right."

Helen submits 6,000 signatures

We're pleased to report that PAA founding member Helen Gym was able to submit 6 times the needed signatures to qualify as a candidate for the Philadelphia City Council. This shows the strength of her grass-roots support.  

Helen also reports a major victory for  increased school funding, one of the foundations of her campaign:

Today, (Philadelphia) Mayor Nutter announced a dramatic increase in funding for public education. Together with Governor Wolf's historic state budget proposal, this marks an important shift from just four years ago, when Governor Corbett announced a budget that would strip $1 billion from public schools across the Commonwealth.


When Corbett's draconian cuts to our schools were proposed, we organized and fought back. Make no mistake about it; the new proposals for expanded public school funding are due to our voices finally being heard.


We still have a long way to go. We must ensure that these new public education funding proposals are passed, and we need to continue to organize and hold our leaders accountable.


The reason I'm running for City Council is to ensure that public education remains at the forefront of the discussion at City Hall and beyond.

Thanks, Helen! As a non-profit organization, PAA cannot endorse candidates, but we can report on the efforts and progress of one of our own, in order to encourage other parents to step up and run for office, too!

Mark your calendars!

April 24-26: Network for Public Education Conference

Looking forward to seeing lots of friends at the NPE conference in Chicago. PAA will offer a workshop on the Impact of Race and Poverty on Education. We also hope to have a PAA get-together as the NPE conference gets underway. Register here if you have not already done so. 

Looking way ahead....
PAA annual conference in DC

We have set tentative dates for our annual conference in DC - July 21-24, 2015. Pencil us in! 

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 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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