Posts Tagged ‘parent voice’

My letter in Sojourners Magazine re: real reform

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Sojourners Magazine just published a blog comment/letter to the editor I wrote in response to a previous article by Nicole Baker Fulgham, “Beyond ‘Superman,’” which referenced “Waiting for Superman” in recommending that meaningful reform must involve all stakeholders having a stronger, more meaningful voice in school decision-making.

Fulgham wrote: “As an African-American woman and a Christian, I have undergone my own process to unpack the unique and often deeply held beliefs of communities that have been historically marginalized and disenfranchised within public discourse. I’ve come to believe that we have to find authentic ways to give all stakeholders a voice in the dialogue and decision-making. Otherwise we run the risk of well-intentioned school reforms being viewed with heavy doses of skepticism by those left out of the process.”

Read more of her thoughtful piece here.

PSAT for 2-7-12: Get in on the Tuesday action!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

More groups are picking up on the idea of doing something every Tuesday to fight for our public schools – Public Schools Action Tuesday, PSAT!

Chicago’s Parents 4 Teachers group is continuing its Tuesday call-in campaign to CPS to stop school closings (see #1 below).

And next Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 9 pm EST, the Save Our Schools March is kicking off an every-Tuesday social media #SOSchat. The Valentine’s Day-appropriate topic? “What Do I LOVE About Public Schools?” More on that next week.

PURE’s PSAT actions for 2-7-12:

1) CALL IN – Parents 4 Teachers is asking everyone to call Chicago Public Schools CEO JC Brizard again this Tuesday and for the next two Tuesdays leading up to the February 22, 2012, Board of Education meeting, asking for a stop to school closings and turnarounds. Lots of calls were made last week – let’s keep the pressure on!


Parents 4 Teachers asks: If you’ve already called, thank you. Go ahead and call again and please commit to getting TWO more people to call. These school actions will have a devastating impact on students, families and their communities. CPS should be working to improve schools, not close them. Please forward this to everyone you know who’s committed to working for quality schools for ALL Chicago children.

2) SIGN – Dump Duncan! Chicago’s Arne Duncan has done what many thought was impossible – made the No Child Left Behind law even worse than it was under George W Bush. Here’s your chance to ask President Obama to give a sign that he gets it, and that he wants people who care about education to care again about voting for him. Sign the Dump Duncan petition!

3) QUESTION: Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force advisor Jackie Leavy notes that more hearing officer reports have been posted on the CPS web site. Apparently most of the reports “find” in favor of CPS’s proposals. How do the hearing officers’ reports line up with what was actually said in the hearings?

Jackie also mentions that a City Council Education Committee hearing on CPS school closings and other actions that was supposed to be held yesterday was cancelled. If your alderman is a member of this committee (and even if he/she is not) you may want to ask why, and let them know your opinion on these actions.

City Council Ed Committee chair is Latasha Thomas, and the vice-chair is Rey Colon. Committee members are:

Moreno, Dowell, Sawyer, Beale, Cardenas, O’Shea, Munoz, Solis, Maldonado, Burnett, Ervin, Waguespack,Laurino, P. O’Connor, M. O’Connor, Osterman

The Committee will be meeting this Thursday, Feb 9, at 10 am in Room 201A, on another topic, so that might be a good time to ask them what’s going on.

Here are some more great questions for policy makers from Diane Ravitch (“Do politicians know anything about schools and education? Anything?”).

4) READ/SHARE: Wonder why CPS can “listen” so much at so many hearings and yet “hear” nothing that parents, students, teachers, the community, other educators, research experts, and scientists are saying? You may be interested in reading through their playbook, “What’s Trust Got to do with it?,” a report by Public Agenda which was recently reviewed by the corporate reform myth-busters at the National Education Policy Center.

NEPC’s review is usefully titled, “Giving Parents the Run-around on School Turnarounds.” 

The press release for this review describes Public Agenda’s advice for officials dealing with community resistance to the drastic actions they are determined to impose on schools:

In the face of such reaction, the authors of What’s Trust Got to Do With It? focus on how to better sell the concept. They assume that resistant parents simply don’t understand “how bad” their local schools are….(T)he report never treats seriously the substantive concerns of resistant parents; it never questions the fundamental strategy that it proposes communicating about….The result is a document that’s “paternalistic and arrogant” in its “criticism of parents for not knowing what’s good for them.”




PAA wants US House Ed Committee to open debate

Thursday, February 10th, 2011
The Education and Workforce Committee of the US House of 
Representatives is holding hearings on "innovation" in education
policy today. The  list of witnesses completely excludes the people
who have the greatest stake in public school improvement - parents.
The witnesses also represent a single, ideologically driven approach 
to educational policy that has yet to produce significant benefits for
American schoolchildren.  

All four witnesses are pro-privatization: Dr. Tony Bennett, Indiana 
Superintendent of Public Instruction, a strong supporter of charter schools and "virtual charter school"
expansion; Lisa Graham Keegan of Education Breakthrough Network, a supporter of vouchers, high
stakes testing and charter schools; Andrew Coulson of the CATO Institute, yet another supporter of
charter expansion and vouchers; and Ted Mitchell, CEO of the New Schools Venture Fund, which funds
charter school expansion. 

The founding members of Parents Across America spoke out against this unbalanced hearing:  

"It is not in the best interests of children if House Committee members only hear testimony from 
people who support the current corporate agenda of further privatization, charter expansion, and 
high-stakes testing. The majority of public school parents oppose these strategies, and we know
that none of them have worked to improve schools in Chicago or anywhere else in the nation," 
said Julie Woestehoff of Chicago's PURE and a co-founder of PAA. "We call on the committee
to act responsibly and also hear other viewpoints including those of parents, who have the most at 
stake in these decisions." 

"Experimentation on children with unproven fads is not 'innovation,' " said PAA founding member
Caroline Grannan of San Francisco. "We need reforms that have been proven to work, like smaller 
classes, encouraging parent involvement, and meaningful assessment instead of battering our children
with endless bubble-in tests. Parents want reforms that improve schools rather than weakening them."

Leonie Haimson of New York City's Class Size Matters and Parents Across America concluded: 
"These points of view do not represent 'innovation' but privatization. The federal government seems
intent on large scale experimentation on our children without parent consent. We demand that public
school parents, as the most important stakeholders, be given a chance to testify at every Congressional
education hearing from now on. These are our children, and our voices must be heard." 
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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.