Posts Tagged ‘PURE’

PSAT for 12-4-12: Give a PURE gift!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012


“They are watchdogs for public education in Chicago,

and they are fearless.

Every city should have a group like PURE.”

Diane Ravitch, May 26, 2012



PURE believes in promoting good solutions to the real problems of public education along with our diatribes against “reformers” bad ideas like reckless school closure/charter school expansion and misuse and overuse of standardized tests.

So, instead of talking about boycotting the bad guys on today’s Public Schools Action Tuesday, let’s talk about supporting one of the good guys, a corporation with a proven track record of positive contributions to public education in general and especially to the parents and families of Chicago school children.

That not-for-profit group is, of course, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), which incorporated in Illinois in the fall of 1987 – 25 years ago.

Give a PURE gift!

Give a tax-deductible gift to PURE using our DONATE button or snail mail (see below) – do it for yourself, for Chicago school children and their parents, or as a gift to a public school supporter that you care about. PURE will send you and your friend a gift card acknowledging the gift.

Over our 25 years of service, PURE has consistently and effectively spoken out against harmful education policies and practices, and promoted positive change. We have made sure that parents’ voices were heard, no matter who was in power or whether those in power wanted to listen or not.

In the mid-to-late 2000s, the corporate funding community in Chicago began to blackball groups that opposed Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010. Several citywide and local grass roots public school support groups were forced to close their doors, and many expected PURE to go away, too. But we didn’t. Although we currently receive no money at all from Chicago foundations, we have been able to access funds though progressive national foundations including W. K. Kellogg Foundation, the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the 21st Century Foundation, and RESIST. We are deeply grateful for this support.

But we also need the support of Chicago parents and others who care about our schools, both in Chicago and across the nation. That means you!

PURE success 2012

PURE is a still great investment! With our small budget and mostly volunteer staff, we have been able to do some amazing things in 2012! Some highlights:

  • PURE successfully called attention to the overly harsh discipline policies of one of the nation’s most highly-touted charter school networks. We helped organized a demonstration march and press conference. The story gained national attention, led a state senator to propose legislation against the school’s discipline fees, and inspired Cong. Danny Davis to order an investigation of the school’s approach. More parents are calling us with their stories about charter school abuses.
  • PURE exposed yet one more ridiculous standardized test question, helping the public better understand the tests’ limitations. We have organized a citywide coalition against excessive testing and developed new fact and tip sheets for parents to address testing problems.
  • Based on PURE’s input, our national network, Parents Across America, adopted the Local School Council model as our alternative to the corporate reformers’ unsound “parent trigger” concept. With PAA, we made national news debunking the parent trigger and the “Won’t Back Down” movie that was made to push this unsound idea.
  • PURE’s executive director, Julie Woestehoff, wrote a chapter in the book, “Education Courage,” which the Christian Science Monitor named one of the “15 must-read books about K-12 education in the US.” A web site dedicated to the book included links to several of PURE’s fact sheets.

So, give for the PURE joy of it! Give to PURE via our donate button or by sending a check or money order to PURE, co/Siegel and Assoc., 11 E Adams Street, Suite 1401, Chicago IL 60603.

Thank you!!!

PSAT for 11-29-11: Support PURE!

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

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!

Support PURE!
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.