It’s that time of year again, the week corporate reformers have designated as “School Choice Week.”

Polls and surveys show that the first choice of most parents is to send their child to a high-quality neighborhood school with adequate resources.

Parents know by now that students in charter schools and voucher programs have not shown better academic progress than students in traditional schools. Parents do not want to have to shop around for a good school; consumerism is not the kind of “empowerment” that parents want.

But Senator Lamar Alexander, the new chair of the Senate education committee and a former Bush education secretary, is pushing vouchers as well as charter schools, and much of Congress may follow.

It’s important to contact your congressional representatives now to let them know that your choice is more for support for your public school, not for charter schools or voucher programs.

Here’s the PAA position paper we faxed to all members of the House and Senate education committees.

Same old song and dance

Did you know that there’s an official school choice song and dance? No, we don’t mean that old “saving kids trapped in underperforming schools” rap or the “competition is the answer” baloney.

No, they have a real song and dance that their supporters are supposed to learn and perform at their local “choice week” event. Check it out:

Here’s our review!

Feb. 2 deadline for public comment on teacher and principal leadership

This week, the Senate HELP committee held a hearing on Supporting Teachers and School Leaders, to gather input on ESEA reauthorization in that area. They are still accepting public comment through February 2.

You can find all the information, and submit comments, here.

PAA has endorsed and submitted the excellent statement by Michigan Parents for Schools, whose executive director, Steven Norton, is a PAA Board member. The focus of this piece is the inclusion of test-based measures of student “growth” and “achievement” of a program’s graduates in an evaluation of the program’s quality.

We will continue keep you posted on Congressional ESEA hearings and topics. The next hearing is on “Innovation to Better Meet the Needs of Students.”

Mark your calendars!

February 9: Ed Week webinar
on Local School Councils
PAA has endorsed the Local School Council (LSC) model of parent empowerment. You can find out a lot more about LSCs by joining a webinar hosted by Education Week and featuring PAA’s interim executive director Julie Woestehoff, a veteran Chicago LSC member and long-time LSC trainer and advocate.
Sign up here for thewebinar, which will take place on Monday, February 9, at 2 pm Eastern time.Please note that, while the Walton Family Foundation is listed as the underwriter for the webinar’s content, we have been assured that they have no editorial control over the content.

March 2, 8 pm ET: PAA webinar

Nate Harris at PAA conference, July 2014

…on Race, Poverty and Education

We are also excited about our upcoming webinar building the great session we had at our July 2014 conference on the topic of Race,Poverty and Education. PAA Board member Nate Harris Skyped in Dr. Paul Thomas of Furman University for this session. Dr. Thomas blogs at “Radical Scholarship” and has published many important books on the corporate takeover of education, parental choice, teaching and learning, etc.

Registration has not yet been set up for this event but we will keep you posted, and meanwhile, save the date!

April 24-26: Network for Public Education Conference

You have two more days to register early at reduced prices for the NPE conference! This is the best annual get-together for public school advocates, and it’s in Chicago this year. Sign up now!

Looking way ahead….
PAA annual conference in DC

We have set tentative dates for our annual conference in DC – July 21-24, 2015. Pencil us in!

PAA and PAAers in the News

Charter gag order?

Our wonderful PAA affiliate leader, Julie Sass Rubin, of SOS-New Jersey, has taken some flak from charter proponents after she and a colleague published a report showing that charter schools in New Jersey educate significantly smaller percentages of poor students, special education students and students from non-English speaking families than the public school districts in which they are located.

Here’s how Diane Ravitch explained it:

The New Jersey Charter School Association filed an ethics complaint against Rutgers professor Julia Sass Rubin, because she identified herself as a Rutgers professor when speaking and writing critically about charter schools. She and doctoral student Mark Weber published a research paper about the demographics and test scores of charters. She has been an active member of Save Our Schools New Jersey. The charter association claims that she should not acknowledge her professional identity when writing or speaking. This would be laughable were it not an effort to intimidate her.

The flap was widely covered including articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the

New Jersey Star-Ledger, as well as NJ Spotlight and Non-Profit Quarterly.

It’s likely that the charter school group’s move has only served to bring more daylight to the facts about charter school enrollment policies.

At any rate, they have definitely opened themselves up to ridicule. For example,
teacherbiz mentions that the charter school organization’s public relations person has been called the “Darth Vader” of PR. He is apparently better know for fronting for toxic waste businesses, an irony not lost on curmudgucation.

But the best may be our friend Marie Corfield’s take:

When the facts aren’t on your side…
When you’re up against the wall…
When you’ve been caught with your hand in the cookie jar…
You take the cheap shot.

Why not take a minute to like Julia on Facebook?

Je suis Julia!

 Washington State Dems reject Common Core
Dora Taylor and David Spring of Parents Across America Seattle played an important role in getting the following resolution opposing Common Core passed by the Washington State Democratic Party on Saturday January 24 2015. This makes the Washington State Democratic Party the first state Democratic Party in the nation to oppose Common Core.They have written an article about how they accomplished this and how interested groups in other states can get their state party organizations to pass a resolution opposing Common Core. Of course, Washington State is the home state of the promoter of Common Core – Bill Gates. So if they can do it there, it can be done in any state.

Thank you PAA Seattle and thank you Washington State Democratic Party delegates – who voted overwhelmingly to get rid of Common Core here in Washington State!

We have posted their press release and a copy of the resolution here on the PAA site.

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
Standardized in Philly

PAA Suburban Philadelphia leader Danielle Arnold Schwartz reports that they will be supporting a local screening and Q&A of the documentary, Standardized: Lies, Money, and Civil Rights on 2/25/15.

Here’s a great new post from Danielle. She writes: “It reflects on the memories of the first strip mall colleges and the blitz of cyber school ads that sprinkle our states. Remember how odd they seemed at first? Now we are used to them, whether we like them or not. It is a call to suburban public school supporters to realize that if, perhaps, the cities were the appetizers of ed. reform, the suburbs could be the main course.”

A change in high-stakes graduation requirements
for Texas?

Jennifer Collins, leader of PAA-Northeast Texas, sends an update on Texas SB149 which would create individual graduation committees for high school students who are unable to pass the 5 required EOC exams under the current STAAR system. Currently, 1 in 10 high school seniors who are ineligible to receive a diploma in June based on one or more EOC exam. This affects 28,000 students in Texas, many of whom will likely drop out without receiving their diploma.
On Tuesday,SB149 was referred to the Senate Education Committee.PAA-Northeast Texas is asking parents, teachers, and community members to contact Chairman Larry Taylor and ask that he schedule a quick hearing on this bill. Sen. Taylor’s email address is larry.taylor@senate.state.tx.us.

Here’s more information about the bill. You can also contact Jennifer at

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

For more….

If you have questions, comments, suggestions or stories to share, please e-mail us at info@parentsacrossamerica.org or visithttp://www.parentsacrossamerica.org.
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