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Do you know who runs the largest chain of charter schools in the country? No, it's not KIPP or Rocketship. It's the Concept/Harmony chain owned by the "Gülen Movement" - a rapidly expanding, global Islamic group. We hope more people will learn about this frightening threat to democratic public education through the new documentary film, "Killing Ed," which features PAA founding member Sharon Higgins. More below!


Get ready for the Killing Ed Film

We are so proud of PAA founding member Sharon Higgins, who has been carrying on a sometimes lonely, often dangerous campaign against the Gulen movement chain of charter schools for many years.

Sharon is finally getting some of the recognition she deserves with the new film, "Killing Ed," a documentary that exposes how the Gulen organization has gained political power and financial reward in the US through a lack of transparency and regulation in the ever-growing charter school movement.

A two-minute trailer for KILLING ED was released on March 4 (see below); it juxtaposes interviews with Sharon and other education advocates and Gülen school teachers against footage of Bill Gates, Lieutenant Governor of Texas Dan Patrick, Diane Ravitch and others with scenes of conflict in Turkey- unraveling a sophisticated business front which presents itself as a benevolent enterprise and discounts any criticism as "Islamophobic."

The film premieres on March 25 in New York City and showings will follow across the US.

What can you do? 
  • Watch the trailer (below).
  • Read the information on the Killing Ed web site.
  • Share with friends and family.
  • Go see the film and talk it up when it comes out.
Trailer for KILLING ED
Trailer for KILLING ED

There's still time to sign up for the PAA Book Club!

But make sure to give yourself enough time to read the book!

We're really excited about our first book club session on March 29 with author P.L. Thomas, called the "conscience of American education" by Diane Ravitch. We'll be discussing Dr. Thomas's newest book, "Beware the Roadbuilders," which takes a social justice lens to many favorite books and genres including James Baldwin, Barbara Kingsolver, Isaac Asimov, zombies and superheroes.

First book club date:
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!

You can try your local library for a free copy or you can just buy the book which is now $9.99 on Kindle. If you don't have a Kindle, you can get a free app from Amazon to read a Kindle book on your phone or tablet.

This book club is a feature of our project on the Impact of Poverty and Race on Educational Opportunity. We are looking forward to the discussion.


PAA test stress position paper endorsed byJonathan Kozol,
Alfie Kohn, Nancy Carlsson-Paige

We were honored to have our work on test stress endorsed by a number of highly-respected educators this week (list here).

Comments from some of these experts include: 

"High-stakes testing is doing children grievous mental and emotional harm. Parents Across America has gathered overwhelming evidence of the destructive psychological impact of test anxiety. For your children's sake, read and be outraged!" 
Dr. Isabel Nuñez, Associate Professor in the Center for Policy and Social Justice, Concordia University Chicago: 
"The evidence is overwhelming that our national mania for testing--and for so much time in school and at schoolwork--is damaging the physical and psychological health of our children. I appreciate the work of Parents Across America and sincerely hope that the educational powers that be start to listen. What we have today is, essentially, state-mandated child abuse." 
Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor in the department of Psychology, Boston College
"As we see testing increasingly edge out play and active learning in classrooms for young kids, we also see more and more children who don't like school, who feel way too much pressure, who don't want to go to this place that feels so uncomfortable and out of synch with who they are and what they need."
Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Professor Emerita, Lesley University 
Our press release was shared on Diane Ravitch's blog, on the home page of Defending the Early Years, and on several other blogs and Facebook pages.

We received a new endorsement today from author and founder of ECE PolicyWorks, Susan Ochshorn. Read more here.

Next steps

We have sent requests to the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics asking for then to investigate our concerns about this growing threat to student mental health.

We also know that test publishers and education entrepreneurs are already developing new ways to label, sort and profile students through the shiny high-tech devices now taking over classrooms. This may not create as much stress but carries other dangers such as:
  • Constant collection of student data via online websites, apps, and programs.
  • Embedded or "stealth" assessments - students will not even be aware if their work is being used for high-stakes purposes.
  • A significant increase in the amount of screen time children are exposed to - the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a two hour screen time limit for children per day.
We are beginning to gather information about these issues. If you'd like to join our task force, please let us know (

Another PAA leader elected!

Congratulations to former PAA board member Dawn Collins on her election to the East Baton Rouge (LA) School Board!

Dawn will fill a vacated position until the next election in 2018. 

Sue Peters named Seattle School Board Vice-President

Sue also reports that the Seattle School Board recently passed a resolution opposing charter schools and reaffirming its commitment to public schools.

Why not suggest this language to your school board?

QUEST supports big Boston student protest

PAA Boston affiliate QUEST leader Megan Wolf shared some of her pictures from Monday's big student walk-out, and this report:

On Monday, March 7th, approximately 3,600 students in Boston walked out of their schools to protest budget cuts to the Boston Public Schools by Mayor Marty Walsh. The cuts will mean losses of teachers, librarians, special education services, support services, foreign language offerings, electives and more in schools across the city, with high schools experiencing the most severe losses. Students marched from the Boston Common to the State House, with a number of them entering and testifying at a hearing taking place on lifting the cap on the number of charter schools in the state. They then proceeded to
historic Faneuil Hall, where the Mayor and Governor were announcing a "young entrepreneur" partnership with Forbes. That night, hundreds of students, parents and teachers attended a budget hearing of the School Committee, united in their outrage at the budget losses and misplaced priorities of city and state leaders. 

Oakland parents organizing against charter takeover

"Unmasking Great Oakland Public Schools ("GO"): from a concerned Oakland parent 

Great Oakland Public Schools (GO) is a local organization supported locally by the Rogers Family Foundation and more broadly by the California Charter School Association (CCSA), the Broad foundation and the Walton Family foundation. 
They work side by side with our Broad trained Superintendent Antwan Wilson and its foundation fund manager the Oakland Public Education Fund (EdFund) to prepare public reports, conduct public engagements and generally manipulate information going out to parents. GO has hidden for many years behind their school backpack drive and support for a new teacher contract and claimed that they are pro public school without disclosing that their funding comes from reform organizations or that it has been used to ensure the election 5 of our 7 board members currently serving.
Now the CCSA has sued Oakland under Prop 39, claiming that Oakland is not offering adequate facilities to charter schools

Tonight they held a fundraiser featuring Libby Schaaf and the former Mayor of Los Angeles. The money raised will go to help candidates running for School board in districts 1, 3, 5, 7. 
In the past two election cycles, most of the money donated to GO's PAC came from 2 multi-millionaires and the California Charter School Association ("CCSA"). The CCSA sued Oakland today to get more access to our District schools. 
In 2012, the Director of GO said that they would do "whatever it takes" to get school board members elected, stating that "they control a $600 million budget. They choose the Superintendent...This is a one in four years opportunity to have four seats up on the school board. And we're in this to win it."
GO is not for Public Schools. GO is for Charter Schools, which is not the same. GO is for the privatization of our educational system. Please don't let them continue to get away with pretending that they are not."

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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