Archives for category: Parent Groups

A report from Melissa Westbrook, parent activist in Washington State:

“Here in Washington State, our state PTA is joining with…McDonald’s. We are supposed to believe that because McDonald’s now has apple slices that all their food is good for kids. They are even allowing the McDonald’s Director of Nutrition to speak at the state convention.
One other interesting thing is that several of our Seattle schools PTAs are weighing whether to leave the organization altogether and become PTOs (Parent Teacher Organizations). They just don’t support the state and national PTA actions and want to see their hard-earned fundraising dollars go to their school.”

Florida parents are united in opposition to a “parent trigger” bill that would advance the interests of charter corporations. Florida already has hundreds of charter schools, many of them run by for-profit corporations. Thus far, the Florida legislature has heard testimony from the California organization Parent Revolution (heavily funded by the pro-privatization Walton Family Foundation), but not a single Florida parent organization supports the “parent trigger.” It would be fair to call the bill the “Corporate Charter Enrichment Law,” because it will create more economic growth for charter corporations.

Florida parents are wise to what the game is.

Para Espanol, oprima el “click”The Parent Trigger controversy continues.  This Thursday, SB 862 Parent Empowerment/Parent Trigger by Sen. Kelli Stargel is on the agenda in the Senate Ed Appropriations Committee.

Click here to take action against the Parent Trigger right now.

Thanks to you, oposition to Parent Trigger is growing.   No Florida parent group supports Parent Trigger.  The alliance of over 1 million parents who oppose this divisive scheme are more committed than ever. Florida parents are standing shoulder to shoulder in rock solid opposition to Parent Trigger.

We will not be used to blindly pull the trigger with no guaranteed outcome just to transfer a valuable public asset to for-profit charter chain investors.

Florida Politicians stand alone in their desire to pass the Parent Trigger. They have misjudged us.

Tell Florida politicians to drop the Parent Trigger.  Tell them to stop talking about getting us a seat at a table that we already own lock, stock and barrel. 

Our children and their schools need us to take a stand against the divisive Parent Trigger scheme.

Your voices spoke truth last year and defeated the Parent Trigger.  It’s time to do it again.

Michelle Rhee will be speaking at New York City’s Cornell Club, to promote her new book “Radical”, on Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013 at 6 PM. (6 East 44th St (between 5th and Madison, map here.) ,

New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, Class Size Matters and other pro-public education parents and advocates will be there to protest Rhee’s destructive policies and proposals, including her push to eliminate ANY caps on class size. More on how Rhee wants to undermine and privatize our public schools, see the parent Rhee-port card here.

For more information about the rally by pro-education advocates, email .

New North Carolina Champions Investment in Public Education

Raleigh, NC—February 4, 2013—Public Schools First NC, a new statewide, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy group committed to high-quality public schools for North Carolina, has formed out of deep concern about the growing threat to privatize and weaken North Carolina’s public schools.  Despite the fact that most North Carolinians regard public education as the foundation of North Carolina’s economic future and our best investment, public school funding has declined year after year and our children are bearing the brunt.

“We believe that North Carolina’s families deserve a public education system that is inclusive, innovative, responsive, and flexible—a system that operates within a framework of fairness, sound planning and local public accountability for tax dollars,” said Nick Rhodes, Public Schools First NC Board of Directors. “Adequate and equitable funding for all schools, effective teacher and principal recruitment, retention and support, and rich educational experiences will allow North Carolina to keep its rightful place as a state that leads the nation in excellent schools.”

Public Schools First NC supports:

  • Adequate, equitable funding reflecting at least the national average for each of North Carolina’s 115 school districts.
  • Increased funding for pre-school, because research demonstrates that high quality, early childhood education is a wise investment for communities and has lifelong, positive results for children.
  •  Excellent educational environments that are partnerships between schools, families, teachers and the community.
  •  Programs that encourage the retention of professional experienced teachers.
  •  A limited number of truly innovative charter schools designed to work with local school districts, managed with careful local and state oversight.
  •  A broad education—including literature, mathematics, the arts, history, civics, science, foreign languages, physical education, vocational education and new technological innovations—that allows students to thrive in a challenging, changing, and competitive global economy.

Public Schools First NC opposes:

  • Vouchers, tax credits, education savings accounts or other similar plans that take resources from our public schools—with little public oversight and even less evidence of success for students.
  •  Overuse and misuse of high stakes testing. Time and resources should be spent on hands on learning, creative problem solving, and a holistic curriculum. Test scores should not be used to punitively grade schools or evaluate teachers but as one of many tools that inform instruction.
  •  Educational “strategies” that ignore the impact of poverty on student success and blame teachers and schools.  We will hold our elected officials accountable f or addressing the growing rates of childhood poverty in North Carolina.

As our history shows, North Carolinians understand that education is the “great equalizer” for our citizens, and each child’s right to an excellent public education is guaranteed in our state constitution.

Public Schools First NC will be a voice to remind us all that our public schools are our first and best investment for North Carolina’s future.


About Public Schools First NC:

Public Schools First NC (PSFNC) is a group of citizens, parents, teachers, businesses and organizations joining together to advocate for a first-rate public education system for all North Carolinians. To learn more or to join our organization, please visit:


New Jersey Save Our Schools reminds us that “school choice” was closely associated with resistance to court-ordered school desegregation in the South. Not only vouchers but segregation academies (“schools of choice”) were havens for whites fleeing contact with blacks.

Save Our Schools NJ Statement on School Choice Week

This week, there will be a concerted national effort to use the idea of parental school choice to advance an entirely different agenda.

We want to remind our legislators and those marketing school choice that legitimate school choices:
• Ensure every child has access to a high-quality public school education;
• Do not segregate or discriminate against our children on the basis of income, English proficiency, special needs, race, gender, religion or sexual preference;
• Are transparent in the sources and uses of their funding and in their educational outcomes;
• Are democratically controlled by local communities.

Unfortunately, what is being promoted by “choice” advocates does not come even close to meeting these standards.

Vouchers arose in Southern states during the 1960s, as a method of perpetuating segregation. To prevent children of color from attending their all-white schools, some districts actually closed those public schools and issued vouchers to parents that were only good at privately segregated schools, known as segregation academies.

The more recent history of voucher use in other states confirms that they continue to increase segregation.

Unfortunately, many charter schools have the same segregating effect.

For example, the recent Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) study of New Jersey charter schools found that New Jersey’s traditional public schools served four and a half times as many students with Limited English Proficiency and one and a half times as many special-needs students as did the charter schools. Rutgers Professor Bruce Baker has documented that this segregation also includes income, with charter schools serving a wealthier population of students than comparable traditional public schools.

New Jersey Department of Education statistics confirm that a number of New Jersey charter schools are also segregated by race and ethnicity.

Until school choice advocates can ensure that greater options for some parents do not equal more segregation for all of our children, their claims of looking out for the needy do not ring true.

Joining an all-white country club is also a choice, but not one that we would ever support.


Save Our Schools NJ is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of parents and other concerned residents whose more than 10,000 members believe that all NJ children should have access to a high quality public education.

CPS Parents File Formal State Complaint Against UNO Charter Schools Updated

January 18, 2013 5:35pm | By Ted Cox, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

(DNAinfo/Ted Cox)

CHICAGO — Education-reform groups, including the president of a Pilsen Local School Council, have filed a formal complaint with the state against the UNO Charter Schools Network.

Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Parents United for Responsible Education, and Rosemary Sierra, president of the Pilsen Academy LSC, filed the complaint in Chicago Thursday asking Illinois Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza to probe UNO’s school finances.

The complaint charges that the United Neighborhood Organization, a Hispanic community group since the 1980s, has overleveraged its charter schools and is using more than $70 million in state-approved tax-exempt bonds in part to pay off private loans rather than fund education.

“I wondered what they were doing with all that money,” Woestehoff said Friday. “We found that they’re very overextended in their debt.”

The complaint cited $17.3 million in bonds for UNO and the Noble Charter Schools arranged through the Illinois Finance Authority in 2006. The IFA approved another $15.8 million in bonds for UNO in 2007 and an additional $35.9 million in 2011, which Woestehoff suggested went in part to pay interest on a reported $65 million loan UNO arranged with the help of Ald. Edward Burke (14th) in the darkest days of the financial collapse in 2008.

According to official nonprofit filings by UNO Charter Schools in 2011, it posted $69.6 million in overall assets and $71.2 million in liabilities for a net debt of $1.7 million. It claimed $61.9 million in mortgages and notes owed to third parties, with $2.9 million in interest paid for the year.

UNO has 13 charters in the Chicago Public Schools, and 12 received funding increases in the 2013 budget for a total outlay of $55.6 million. That’s tied directly to school attendance, but Woestehoff suggested that’s part of the problem, that UNO uses students as “collateral” in its loans.

Standard & Poor’s report in September 2011 gave the school bonds a BBB- rating, warning of “considerable growth risk with two schools opening.” It made clear that UNO’s ability to repay was based on school population.

“That money they’re getting that’s supposed to be for children is being used to pay their debt,” Woestehoff charged. “That doesn’t seem like a healthy situation.”

Asked to comment, UNO spokesman Ray Quintanilla invited media to visit the construction site of a new UNO high school on the South Side on Tuesday. “We will be happy to expand on other concrete measures UNO has taken to address student overcrowding at that time,” he added by text.

Ald. Daniel Solis (25th) is an UNO co-founder, and the agency has abundant political ties.

As a nonprofit agency, UNO is not allowed to play a role in political campaigns, but Chief Executive Officer Juan Rangel has skirted that by saying he makes endorsements as a private citizen, not as an UNO representative. He was co-chairman of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign in 2011, and he backed Burke’s brother, Dan, in his state representative campaign against Rudy Lozano, Jr., with Rangel citing Lozano’s opposition to charter schools.

According to 2011 non-profit filings, Rangel has a salary of $207,000, and UNO’s chief operating officer, senior vice president, vice president and director of operations all make more than $100,000 each. They’re cited as officers with the UNO Charter Schools as well, which also pays two school directors over $100,000. The filing for UNO that year also posted $125,000 paid to the Edelman public relations firm for consulting.

UNO received $98 million from the state in 2009, the largest taxpayer subsidy to a single charter network. “There are no other charter networks getting anywhere near that money,” Woestehoff said.

According to Woestehoff, UNO was up for another $35 million state grant during the recent lame-duck session of the General Assembly, but it didn’t go through, although it’s pending. She said her complaint was filed in part to draw attention to UNO and encourage legislators to reconsider their support.

Cole Kain, chief of staff in the Office of Executive Inspector General, said he was forbidden to comment on any complaint filings or ongoing investigations.

“We have watched them grow into a political powerhouse,” Woestehoff said of UNO. “We looked at how they started and got into the charter school business, and when I say business, I mean business.”

Spring is coming.

People are standing up and speaking up.

Teachers at Garfield High in Seattle say “no more.”

Teachers at Ballard High School support their colleagues at Garfield.

The Seattle Education Association supports the Garfield and Ballard teachers.

Randi Weingarten tweeted her support.

Superintendents, one after another, are saying the testing obsession is out of control.

The principals of New York State stand together to demand professional evaluation, not trial by testing.

Parents are defending their children by supporting their teachers and their community schools.

The PTA of Niagara County in New York say hands off our public schools.

Communities are opposing school closings and corporate takeovers.

Students are speaking out because they know what is happening to them is not right.

Journalists are starting to recognize that the “reformers” are not real reformers but privatizers.

It is starting to happen.

We will put education back into the hands of educators and parents and communities.

We will work to make our schools better than ever, not by competition, but by collaboration.

Last year, someone emailed and asked me to create and lead the movement to stop the corporate reformers, and I said I couldn’t do it, that all I can do is write and speak.

That truly is all I can do, but when I started this blog in late April, it turned into a platform for the movement, and leaders are emerging all over the country, and learning about each other. They are communicating.

I am not the leader, I am the facilitator. You are the leaders.

A Néw York City parent organization has created a report card for Michelle Rhee. Good read.

Here is a great new parent and community group supporting strong public schools in Tennessee.

Please check it out.

Are there active parent groups in Memphis? Chatanooga? Knoxville? Other cities and towns?

Please write to let us know.

As I travel the country, I am often astonished to see how discouraged educators and parents are by the unproven schemes foisted on their schools by politicians.

The worst of these schemes come from radical politicians who think that government should get out of the business of providing public education.

They want education to be a commodity that you pick up whenever you want, wherever you want.

That is their ideal, though they are far from accomplishing it because it is fundamentally a very idiotic idea.

Governor Bobby Jindal is on that track in Louisiana.

Governor Rick Snyder is pushing hard in Michigan to ensure that education is available “any time, any place, anywhere, anyhow,” or words to that effect.

He doesn’t see to see any purpose or value in public education or public schools.

He recently got a report from a pretentiously named group of faithful right-wing operatives who call themselves the “Oxford Foundation,” even though they have nothing to do with Oxford University and they are not a foundation. They are Republican party wonks, cranking out what the governor wants.

The basic idea behind many of the radical deregulatory schemes is to strap the money to the child’s back (usually called either “fair student funding” or “weighted student funding” or some variation thereof) and then let the student take the money anywhere.

To a local public school; to a religious school; to a for-profit virtual charter; to a trade school; to anyone who hangs out a shingle or advertises on TV. In time, there would be no limits on what sort of institution fits the rubric of “any place, any time.”

Yes, there is pushback. I recently met with a group of superintendents in Michigan whose districts encompass nearly half the children in the state: They are not happy. They are discouraged. In private, one said this whole approach is “educational malpractice.”

And the parents are organizing.

I recently received this excellent post from Michigan Parents for Schools.

The parents understand that what is happening will destroy their schools and their communities.

They know more about their children and about education than Governor Snyder and the “Oxford Foundation.”

The best way to stop this madness is to educate the public. Educate parents.

Bottom line: Vote the rascals out.


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