PSAT for 11-29-11: Support PURE!

They wanted PURE to go away – but instead we went national!

It’s been a difficult few years for a scrappy, outspoken group like PURE in a city like Chicago, where it’s considered near-treason to question the emperor’s fashion sense.

Unfortunately, the Chicago “model” of high-stakes testing, teacher-bashing, failing to fund schools adequately, and attacking democratically-run local public education has gone national. Thanks to corporations looking to make profits off of our children, these policies and practices are making the already huge gap between the haves and the have-nots grow larger every day.

The Chicago policies that PURE has fought for years have become national mandates, so PURE is going after the head of the monster.

We need your help. If you appreciate PURE’s fighting spirit, 


Here’s what PURE is doing to protect our children.

  • A national voice and resource for parents: We co-founded Parents Across America (PAA), which is already a major national player in the fight for our public schools. PAA played a prominent role in this summer’s Save Our Schools national march on Washington. Our powerful PAA network put PURE ahead of the curve with critical information about newly-appointed CPS CEO J. C. Brizard which forced CPS and City Hall to stop making false claims about his track record.
  • A better ESEA: As chair of the PAA Legislative Committee, PURE’s executive director prepared a counter-proposal for reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which was featured in the Washington Post, endorsed by the SOS March, and called “best critique of ESEA yet” by noted education expert Diane Ravitch.
  • Solidarity with public school teachers: Honoring PURE’s history as a strong parent-teacher alliance, and in recognition of the unprecedented, highly-funded attack on teachers, PURE has been out front in support of the progressive leadership of the Chicago Teachers’ Union and the teaching profession in general.

If this fight is important to you, and you believe that PURE is needed in the fight,


But wait – there’s more!

  • Fighting high-stakes testing: PURE speaks out against high-stakes tests on a regular basis. We testified before U. S. Department of Education officials regarding our concerns about the new “Common Core” assessments. We submitted testimony to the Illinois State Board of Education and the state legislature about the dangers of tying teacher evaluation to student test scores. CPS’s test-based student retention policy is under investigation by the USDE’s Office for Civil Rights as a result of our discrimination complaint. Meanwhile, under pressure from PURE, the number of retained students in CPS has been cut in half and the promotion policy is on hold.
  • Challenging school privatization: We continue to bust myths and expose hype and falsehoods told about Chicago’s Renaissance 2010 program by people from local charter operators on up to Education Secretary Arne Duncan. We are currently working on an expose of charter discipline policies with a national advocacy group.
  • Support for parents: We continue to work with parents here in Chicago, supporting them at special education and discipline meetings and with general advice and referrals. We offer workshops for parents and local school councils as resources allow. We recently made community presentations for the Better Government Association.

The cost of speaking out: You may have noticed that PURE is often the only group quoted in news stories about CPS/City Hall education pronouncements. Few other groups or individuals are willing to go on the record with any criticism of the new mayor or the power-brokers on the Board of Education. We have been duly punished for our outspokenness. No Chicago foundation currently funds PURE. We are therefore even more grateful to the foundations which do support us: The W.W. Kellogg Foundation, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the 21st Century Foundation, and RESIST.

And it’s for that very reason that we cherish and so greatly appreciate you, our members and friends. You are our Chicago foundation (even if you don’t live here!! )

PURE has not sent out a general appeal for funds in three years. For a while we were not all that positive that we would survive. But we have survived, and we are stronger in many ways.

If you care about public education and you think that PURE plays a critical role in supporting better public schools for every child, PLEASE MAKE A GENEROUS DONATION NOW.

You may use our secure Donate button or mail a check or money order to Parents United for Responsible Education, 11 E Adams Street, Suite 1401, Chicago IL 60603.

Thank you!

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.