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Concern is growing that the US Department of Education is trying to bring back many of the harmful aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act by writing restrictive regulations for the new federal education law, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The public has until August 1 to respond - details below. 
Tell Congress there are BIG problems               with the proposed ESSA regulations

PAA just sent an urgent fax to the US House and Senate education committee members asking them to stop the Department of Education's obvious effort to grab back top-down control over our schools. The DOE's draft regulations for implementing the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) violate the move back to local control Congress intended in their ESEA rewrite.

The creepiest part of the draft regs is the effort to bully schools and districts where significant numbers of parents opt their children out of testing. And where schools and districts are bullied, parents and students will be bullied, too.

How are they proposing to do this? The draft regs require public reporting of the percent of students tested on state tests, and public shaming when less than 95% are assessed. It requires states to actually lower the rating of a school or district with less than 95% of students tested, and to develop a special "improvement" plan to explain how the school or district will boost the test-taking percentage up over 95%.

Other problems with the draft regs include:
  • an over-emphasis on standardized test scores in school accountability ratings,
  • requiring states to label schools in harmful and unnecessary ways, and
  • persistent efforts to promote school privatization (charters) and closure over more effective improvement strategies.
You can send PAA's letter to your US House and Senate reps or use FairTest's online letter that goes to your reps automatically.

FairTest concluded that: "When DoE makes decisions that should have been set locally in partnership with educators, parents, and students, it takes away local voices that ESSA tried to restore."

FairTest also notes, "Many Members have expressed concern that DoE is trying to rewrite the new law, not draft appropriate regulations to implement it."

You can also submit your own comments on teh draft regulations here.This is the last significant opportunity to have an impact on federal education law for several years to come. The deadline for submitting comments is August 1.

It's almost here!

We're very excited about our upcoming leadership conference in Philadelphia, which is less than a week away. We're going to have a great group of leaders and some wonderful sessions.

For those who can't join us in person, we will be sharing two of our sessions with the general public, "Taking Action on the Impact of Race and Poverty on Educational Opportunity" and "EdTech and Data Privacy with special guest Leonie Haimson." Both of these sessions are on Tuesday afternoon, July 19.  Information about how to join these public sessions is here.       

Other highlights of the conference will include: 
  • Fundraising tips for your local group.
  • Movie night! We'll watch "Killing Ed" together with the film's star and PAA founding member Sharon Higgins.
  • A mini book club session related to our race, poverty and education project
  • A review of ESSA draft regulations.
  • Our rooftop dinner honoring Helen Gym (details below)
Many of these sessions will also be recorded and shared later - watch for details.

Join us in honoring Helen

As a new member of the Philadelphia City Council, PAA founding member Helen Gym has already:
  • won funding for preschool, parks and libraries through a tax on soda;
  • proposed water safety guidelines including lead testing for all public schools and child care centers;
  • led a challenge to demand that local parking companies pay what they owe to schools; and
  • helped craft a school budget that will put a nurse and counselor in every school.
We want to thank Helen for walking the walk and for being such a great role model for everyone who cares about public education.

You can help us celebrate Helen at the 2016 Parent Voice Award dinner on the rooftop at Revolution House, 200 Market Street, Philadelphia, on Monday, July 18 at 6 pm. Tickets for the event are available here.

If you can't attend this event, please consider making a donation to PAA in Helen's honor! 
PAA-NETX leader to serve on key education committee

Jennifer Collins, leader of PAA-Northeast Texas, has been invited to serve as a parent representative on the Denton TX schools' District of Innovation (DOI) committee. DOI was part of a bill passed during the last session which allows districts to choose to be exempt from certain education codes if their board goes through a public process to create an innovation plan. Jennifer will be able to help shape the district's plan. 


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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