Diane Ravitch: Calling All Parents!
Diane Ravitch’s blog, May 26, 2012
In an earlier post, I described how a parent organization called out Scantron, the testing company, for inserting a blatantly propagandistic item into its standardized tests. The reading passage was about the alleged superiority of charters as education reform and named a fictitious “multi-millionaire” who sends his own children to a charter. Public school students in Chicago were shown this advertising for charters, with no critical views included.
The parent group is called PURE, or Parents United for Responsible Education. They are watchdogs for public education in Chicago, and they are fearless. Every city should have a group like PURE. This parent group is an affiliate of Parents Across America, and Julie Woesterhoff–its leader–was a co-founder of PAA.
One important lesson to be learned from this episode is that parents can be powerful. Parents have the freedom that teachers don’t have to call out bad test items like this one, which was blatantly untrue. If a teacher called a press conference or put out a statement blasting a test item, the teacher might be fired for revealing what was on the test. Parents are not bound to remain silent.
And parents should not remain silent.
The best parent organization in the United States today is Parents Across America. Unlike the national PTA, which has taken sizable contributions from the Gates Foundation, PAA fights for children and public education. Like PURE in Chicago, PAA is fearless. Google it, and if you like what you see, join them. (I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that the National PTA–which should be staunch defenders of public schools–had a showing of “Waiting for ‘Superman’” at its 2011 national convention in Orlando.)
Or better yet, start a chapter of PAA in your town or city.