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Next week, the Senate education committee will consider appointing John King as the next Secretary of Education. Is he the best choice? Who should the next president have in mind? It's time to speak out!  More below...
Questions for the next Ed Secretary?

At first, former New York state schools superintendent John King was to be an interim Education Secretary, keeping the not-so-dear-departed Arne Duncan's seat warm until a new president is elected and makes a new appointment.

But now, Senate ed leaders have apparently decided that they want someone appointed and confirmed to the Ed Sect'y position so that they can hold him/her accountable as the rules for implementation of the new ESEA, or Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), are written.

Some of our members have had direct encounters with Dr. King when he ran NY schools and have not been impressed (see for example, here). Others have read his Wikipedia entry and wonder about  his remarkable educational and career trajectory. For example, after being kicked out of Phillips Andover prep school in the late 1990's, he received a BA from Harvard, a law degree from Yale and a Masters' and doctorate of education from Columbia, all in a pretty short time. He taught for three years, two of those in a charter school. Then suddenly he becomes NY state education commissioner. Sure, it's possible, but the Senators might want some clarification. 

Others are simply concerned that King has been a booster of Common Core, inBloom and testing, testing, testing, and that is what he'll bring to the position during this very important rule-making period.

Why not reach out to any of your elected representatives who sit on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee and suggest some questions for them to ask Dr. King next Wednesday, such as:
  • Please explain how your brief teaching experience has prepared you to be the nation's "first teacher?"
  • Do you support parents' rights to opt their children out of standardized tests? If not, why not?   
  • How will you deal with the fact that so many states have dropped the Common Core and the PARCC and SBAC tests? What do you believe are the best ways of holding teachers, schools, districts, and states accountable for student learning? 
  • Some parents in New York felt that you did not listen to them or respect their concerns about their children's education during your tenure as state superintendent. How will you make sure that parents' voices are heard under your administration and during the rulemaking procedure for ESSA? 

You must have other questions! 


Sign up for the first PAA book club meeting!

It's online! You can join in your pjs!

The first book we've selected for our book club is P.L. Thomas' newest book, "Beware the Roadbuilders: Literature as Resistance."

Dr. Thomas will be joining us for this session.

When: Tuesday, March 29 at 8 pm ET

Register here!

We're going to use Eventbrite for book club registration and the Zoom meeting program for the book club itself.

Once you register for this session via Eventbrite, we will send you the log-in information for the Zoom meeting.

You will need to download the free Zoom program at

Buy the book on Kindle -- it's gone up, from $4.99 to $9.99. You can also get a free Kindle app for your smartphone if you don't have a Kindle. And try the library, of course.

PAA annual meeting in Philly July 18-20

Watch this space for details on hotel, registration, etc. Coming soon!

PAA to present workshop on Poverty, Race and Education
at NPE conference in April

Look for us there! Register here if you haven't already.

PAA interim ED nominated  
for ESSA rulemaking committee

Thirty-one groups endorsed the nomination of PAA's interim executive director, Julie Woestehoff, as a negotiator representing parents on the committee that will draft rules for implementation of ESSA, the new federal education laws.
Now that ESEA has become the Every Student Succeeds Act, or ESSA, new rules must be drafted to implement the law. The US Department of Education recently requested nominations for people representing various constituencies to help negotiate these rules.

You can read a copy of the letter and the list of groups nominating Julie here. The groups also nominated Sharon Smith as an alternate. Sharon is the founder and Executive Director of Parents Unified for Local School Education in Newark, New Jersey.

This kind of appointment often goes almost automatically to the National PTA. PAA and other groups have been concerned that the PTA has taken millions from the Gates Foundation to promote Common Core and CC testing, and is no longer an independent voice for parents. For example, they recently came out against a parents' right to opt their children out of testing.
The nomination letter states that "it is essential that the committee include negotiators representing independent grassroots parent and advocacy groups in order for its regulatory recommendations to reflect a genuine consensus."

Let's see what USDE thinks is important....

PAA-Suburban PAA leader on the Phila Inquirer front page


Articles from PAA Board member  
Pam Grundy published this week

Pamela Grundy, leader of PAA Charlotte NC affiliate Mecklenburg-ACTS, has written and published a couple of new articles detailing the changes that have taken place at her son's former school, Shamrock Gardens, an initially high-poverty, low-performing school that many of their neighbors shunned.

In an article in the  Charlotte Observer, Pam describes the many positive changes at the school and shares some of the approaches that led to Shamrock's success.

People who want to learn more about Shamrock can read the "Seen from the 'Rock" blog Pam wrote while her son was at Shamrock:
and a more academically-focused account of Shamrock's successes:

Pam's other new article is about race and history as related to a split on the Charlotte Mecklenburg school board over an upcoming superintendent search:

Thoughtful words from a superintendent

Our newest chapter, PAA_Marin (CA) shared this wonderful statement presented by their local superintendent as the Board of Education was deliberating over a charter school decision. They explained:

18 months into a highly contentious local battle over the conversion of a "district-wide program of choice" into a charter school, which included two unanimous denials by the local school board, and a unanimous denial by our county office of education, the Ross Valley Charter was approved by the CA State Board of Education.

During its twenty year history, the district program had received many critiques, perhaps the most stinging came after a discrimination complaint was investigated by a third party investigator, who found proof that the program had "unintentionally discriminated" against English Language Learners, low-income, and special needs students.

The charter petitioners currently have no location, and are making thinly veiled threats to file a "Prop 39 Request," which will entitle them to a district school facility which is "reasonably equivalent" to other school sites. Our district may have to close one of its schools to house the charter.

Proposition 39 was a Trojan Horse, which ostensibly made the process for approval of school bonds easier, but which contained the aforementioned provision for charter schools. Proposition 39 was funded by 4 billionaires in the year 2000, including Reed Hastings (Netflix), John Walton (WalMart heir), and two other tech execs.
Read the full statement here.

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

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