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PAA Action News
Mar. 26, 2015


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PAA Action Alert

Last call for ESEA revisions?

Reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA- formerly No Child Left Behind) is moving towards a possible end point very soon.

The House bill, HR 5, is already out of committee and on the House floor. We told you last time about Rep. Bobby Scott's substitute amendment, but at this point House action is stalled.

The Senate education committee is still trying to get a compromise of some kind so that it can send a bill to the Senate floor by mid-April.

Of course, passing a new ESEA is going to be another struggle. The House has to deal with its own disagreements, and things may be even more contentious in the Senate --  then the House and Senate have to work out any differences between their two versions....

But once bills are written and out of committee, they are much harder to change.  That's why we are urging you to speak up now. It may be your last chance.

In our last newsletter, we suggested that the best way to be heard is to visit your Senators and Congressional representatives in their home offices while they are home for spring break. That starts tomorrow and goes through April 10!

You can still call the local offices and make an appointment. If you can't get in to see the actual legislator, it still makes a major impression to meet with his/her legislative aide, talk to any aide, or even just physically show up at the office and leave a written or verbal message. Find their home office contact info at senate.gov and house.gov.

What to say???

Legislators have a lot of issues to deal with. What really sticks in their minds are personal stories that illustrate the issues you care about. You know what those stories are - they are the experiences that got you to connect with PAA!

For background, you can use the four points that PAA just faxed to every member of the Senate education committee:  
  1. We strongly support the Option 1 proposal for grade span testing. While this won't end the current misuse and overuse of standardized tests, it can help quell the testing mania gripping our nation. We believe that the existing NAEP test expanded nationwide can provide the necessary accountability check and balance on carefully designed local assessments.
  2. We further ask for your support for enhanced local control in deciding how to evaluate teachers and schools: we oppose the use of standardized test scores as major determinants of teacher or school evaluation.

  3. We believe in supporting the public schools in our communities. Research shows that these schools generally outperform charter schools while serving a larger proportion of special needs students. We oppose programs that take scarce funds away from our neighborhood schools in favor of expanding charter schools or providing voucher funds for private schools which are not accountable to the community and have not proven to be better alternatives.

  4. With more than half of all public school children now living in poverty, we believe that federal funding must grow to meet the students' growing needs and growing demands on our schools.

You can also share:

Finally, if you haven't already used this handy FairTest form on grade-span testing, do it now! 

 
Mark your calendars!


Join fellow PAAers at the NPE conference!

Several PAAers will be in Chicago for the April 24-26 Network for Public Education (NPE) conference and we're planning to get together for a little socializing and some PAA talk before the start of the conference, on Friday the 24th at about 4 pm, somewhere convenient to the conference venue.

Even if you aren't an official PAA chapter or affiliate leader, or if you're thinking about starting a PAA chapter and have some questions, we'd love to see you!

Please contact Julie for details and to RSVP: JulieW@parentsacrossamerica.org

 You can still register for the NPE conference
 
We're looking forward to seeing lots of friends at the NPE conference. PAA will offer a workshop on the Impact of Race, Cultural Bias, and Poverty on Educational Opportunity. Register here for the conference 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 20-24, 2015. Pencil us in! 


PAA and PAAers in the news

Dora on Diane Ravitch's blog

PAA President Dora Taylor, leader of PAA-Seattle, was highlighted on Diane Ravitch's blog recently:

Dora Taylor, public education activist in Seattle, can't understand why two elected officials want to split Seattle into two school districts that are likely to intensify racial segregation.

 

For Dora Taylor, this is personal:

 

"I feel very strongly about this bill because my dad had no other choice but to live in the Central District when he was growing up in Seattle because of a city covenant that did not allow African-Americans to live outside of a boundary determined by the city. That meant little opportunity for my dad to grow beyond that border. He was fortunate enough to have a high school coach, at Franklin High School, who saw his talent and with his coach's help, my dad, Brice Taylor, was one of the first three African-American students to attend the University of Southern California even against the wishes of the college president, but that's another story.

 

Kickstarter campaign for "Killing Ed" movie 

 

From the project's Kickstarter page:  

 

Killing Ed is a new 87-minute exposť that reveals the propaganda, political greed and corruption behind the effort to privatize American public schools. Filmed in locations around the USA the film offers interviews from experts, teachers, insiders and activists (including some PAA leaders and friends! - editor).  

 

"Killing Ed" reveals the failed promises and the outright lies of education reform. Powerful foundations, corporate interests (testing!) and politicians who have abetted the growth of the privately owned (but public funded) schools are discussed as well.  


This the new feature-length documentary by award-winning filmmaker, Mark S. Hall, looks into the realities of 'education reform.' Please help us raise the funds to finish the film - our Kickstarter campaign will help pay for final editing, music, color correction, and a final sound mix so that we can premier the film at a film festival later this year

The film highlights the Turkish Gulen movement, which operates more charter schools in the US than any other enterprise. PAA's Sharon Higgins has been a prominent critic of the Gulen charter schools. 

 

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-NETX to rally for public schools

  

Save Texas Schools will hold a statewide rally day on Saturday, March 28. Concerned parents, teachers and supporters of public schools are invited to participate in rallies across the state. Bring your signs and make yourself heard!

  

Save Texas Schools-DFW will hold a rally beginning at 11:00 am at the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Ft. Worth. Here is a link to the Facebook event

 

Jennifer Collins, PAA-Northeast Texas, will speak on the topic of STAAR and standardized testing.  

 

Other speakers include: Perrin-Whitte Superintendent, author, and public school activist, John Kuhn; Dr Charles.Luke with Pastors for Texas Children; Connor Brantley, President of the National Youth Association; Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon; and State Representative Marc Veasey.

 

Following the rally, there will be a screening of the documentary "The Texas Promise" at 2:00 pm at the Central Library downtown. There is no admission but seating is limited. RSVP here.  

 
A call for action on vouchers in Indiana

PAA Board member Nate Harris shared this call to action from Indiana via Vic's Statehouse Notes, an excellent source of local education legislation news: 

Senators need to hear from you about your opposition to voucher expansion.  Messages to the five Senators on the School Funding Subcommittee would be the best way to start.
   
Other Senators on the Appropriations Committee in addition to those on the subcommittee would be the next to contact:  Senator Kenley, chair; Republican Senators Boots, Hershman, Miller, Waltz and Yoder and Democratic Senators Stoops and Taylor.  Finally, contact your Senator or any other Senator about voucher opposition.
 
There is no bill to expand vouchers this session.  Governor Pence's push to expand vouchers is all being done in the budget bill, HB 1001.  The budget has an enormous number of provisions in it, and the voucher provisions can sweep in unless the public makes it a major issue.  That is where you come in. 
 
 Let them know you are watching and that you oppose vouchers.  The two voucher proposals over two years would cost about $18 million, $5 million each year for SGO expansion and $3.8 million each year to remove the $4800 voucher cap.  Ask the Senators to redirect that $18 million to help restore the cuts to low income complexity students. 
PAA blog highlights

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

To learn more...
If you have questions, comments, suggestions or stories to share, please e-mail us at info@parentsacrossamerica.org or visitwww.parentsacrossamerica.org.

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