» Julie Woestehoff

PSAT for 12-6-11: Principals, Unite!

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Last night we watched a charming movie, “Amreeka,” about a Palestinian mom and her son who emigrate to Illinois the same week the US invaded Iraq. Not surprisingly, they encounter some challenges. Somewhat surprisingly, one of the film’s heroes is the mild-mannered principal of the local high school. School principals are popularly portrayed as creeps, crooks, or idiots (anyone besides me remember Osgood Conklyn in Our Miss Brooks? OK, how about Glee’s Principal Figgins?). My own experience of principals in …

PSAT for 11-22-11: Give thanks for teachers

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Today’s Public Schools Action Tuesday (PSAT) action is an easy one since everyone’s busy cooking and cleaning (and working) this week! To start Thanksgiving a little early, please give thanks for teachers. The Use Your Teacher Voice web site is a good place to start. You’ll hear from a variety of teachers like David, from Social Justice High School, who explains the link between poverty and student learning difficulties. I am so grateful to the teachers in my own family. …

PAA letter to Senate HELP Committee: ESEA needs parent input!

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Today, Parents Across America sent a letter to the members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee after noting that panelists testifying this morning at a committee hearing on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education law included no parent representatives. PAA has reached out to the HELP committee repeatedly with our concern that parent voices are being left out of this critical discussion of the federal laws which will impact our children’s education for years to come. …

ESEA moving in HELP committee

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Update stories from Ed Week here and here on the status of ESEA in the Senate HELP committee, which has set a hearing on the proposal for November 8: …the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the committee, and Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., reached an agreement with Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., so that action on the bill could move forward. …the biggest loser is the Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s plan to offer states waivers from some …

PSAT: Tell your senator what you think about more charter schools

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It’s Public Schools Action Tuesday (PSAT)! Illinois Senator Mark Kirk is asking his constituents to answer this question about charter schools: “Should Congress use its educational funds to support the expansion of Charter Schools?” In the post, Kirk declares that he “strongly supports charter schools.” The post is headlined with the incorrect statement that 9 of top 10 High Schools in Chicago are Charter Schools. Here’s a video demonstrating how some CPS high school students called candidate Rahm Emanuel out …

US House to vote on bad charter bill today

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Please call your congressman today and ask him/her to vote NO on HR 2218 (see press release below). This bill is called the Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools bill, but we believe that it only serves to empower charter school operators and not parents or students. Look at the list of endorsers if you doubt who is behind this. Parents Across America has taken a position against HR 2218. Because the vote is happening today, you need to keep …

PSAT for 9-6-11: Commit to valuing all children

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Today is the traditional first day of school across the US. That tradition has eroded in many places due to so-called year-round school schedules, experiments like Paul Vallas’s short-term effort to game state tests by adding a few weeks in at the beginning of the school year, and a host of local variables. Another tradition that seems to have eroded (if it ever truly existed) is that of valuing all children. These days, politicians and media types are boldly yammering …

Next target of ed "reformers" – democracy

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“Reformers” next target: “one-size-fits-all” democracy Now that they’ve had some success destroying public education, the school reform privateers are setting their sights on something even more precious and fundamental to our nation – our democracy. You see, democracy is “messy” and “one-size-fits-all” and has a pesky habit of getting in the way of even more mega profits and oligarchic* control, which the Bill Gateses and Eli Broads feel is their due. Last week, former Chicago Tribune honcho James Warren wrote …

PSAT for 8-23-11: Twitter Arne

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From the USDE: The Department of Education announced today that Secretary Arne Duncan will participate in the first-ever #AskArne Twitter Town Hall on August 24, 2011 at 1:30 p.m. EDT. Veteran education journalist John Merrow will moderate the town hall that will also be broadcast live on ED’s ustream channel. Twitter users can submit questions to the Secretary using the hashtag #AskArne. #### For Public Schools Action Tuesday today, why not send in a question for Arne? In addition to …

PSAT for 8-2-11: Take the Matt Damon test

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Are you as well-informed about education issues as Matt Damon? Check out his interview with Gotham Schools here and his SOS March speech here. Did you know all that? Why is he so smart about school issues? Well, apparently he’s actually really smart. Also, he has a smart mom who is a professor of early childhood education and hangs around with Diane Ravitch. But all of us can get smart, and we have started hanging around with Diane R., too, …