PAA Action News
Apr. 2, 2015

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PAA Action Alert

Join national ESEA testing
outreach day Wednesday April 8

The Testing Resistance and Reform Spring network, of which PAA is a member,  is calling for a day of action for ESEA and testing next Wednesday, April 8.

On that day we are asking you to call your Senators and, if you tweet, send out and retweet others' Twitter messages beginning at 1 pm ET, 10 am PT. We'll share some suggested tweets and an official hashtag early next week.

Why should you get involved in ESEA?

As we've been telling you over and over in this newsletter (!) reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA- formerly No Child Left Behind or NCLB) is moving towards a possible end point very soon.

So many of our readers - active parents, teachers and others - are so deep in the trenches with local fights that it's hard to have the time or energy to take on federal education laws. You may be opting out of spring tests, speaking out for better funding, advocating for lower class size and more learning time, or challenging charter school expansion, high-stakes testing, and student data sharing in your district or state.

But ESEA affects all of these things. Fixing ESEA will make a difference in your local fights. And the opportunity to change ESEA only comes around once every few years.   

Let's take testing as a prime example. The test mania that we hate so much really took hold after the George W. Bush administration turned ESEA into NCLB and changed the grade span testing mandate to an annual testing requirement.

We can't fix everything in ESEA - though we've been trying! - but we do have a chance to decrease the amount of and the stakes placed on standardized testing by supporting Option 1 of the Senate ESEA proposal. 

We still think 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, now through April 10.

If at all possible, it would be even better to visit on April 8,    our national day of action for ESEA and testing. 

You can call the local offices and make an appointment. If you can't get in to see the actual legislator, you can still make a major impression by meeting with his/her legislative aide, talking to any aide, or even just physically showing up at the office and leaving a written or verbal message (see below). Find their home office contact info at and

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 made you reach out to PAA!

For background, you can stick to the first point listed below, which relates to testing. Then if you want to share the other three points, and others that you care about, go for it!  
  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 ease 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!

Save the date! New PAA webinar on charter school accountability

PAA is co-hosting another webinar on Tuesday, May 5, at 8 pm ET, with the Center for Popular Democracy. We'll be talking about CPD's recent survey on charter school accountability. The study, done with In the Public Interest, found that voters want greater oversight for charter schools and more assurance that charters won't hurt other public schools by drawing students away.

We'll also talk about another new CPD report, this one on charter school fraud in California. The study found that:

California's charter oversight system's deficiencies suggest that the $81,400,000 in fraud, waste and abuse by charter operators that has been uncovered to date is likely just the tip of the iceberg. Based on conservative estimates, California stands to lose more than $100 million to charter school fraud in 2015. The vast majority of this fraud perpetrated by charter officials will go undetected because California lacks the oversight necessary to identify the fraud

We'll have the registration information for you in our next newsletter.

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:

 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! 

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.

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

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