Congressional New Year’s resolution: Listen to parents!

happy_new_year_2014This week’s federal education buzz included House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s threat to launch a Congressional investigation of the education polices of the new Mayor of New York.

Mayor Bill de Blasio ran and won on a platform of promoting neighborhood public schools, ending co-location of charter schools in neighborhood schools, and charging rent to charter schools.

Rep. Cantor was quoted as saying, “This move could devastate the growth of education opportunity in such a competitive real estate market like New York City.”

DeBlasio countered, “It’s a dangerous philosophy that turns its back on public education – and it has failed many times before. What public school parents want – and I know because I’m one of them – are real investments that lift up all our kids. That will take big, bold, progressive ideas. And that’s exactly what the people of New York City just voted for.”

We agree, and we just sent this fax to Rep. Cantor and the members of both the Senate and House Education Committees.You can download a copy here to share with your own Congressional representatives.

 

Resolved for 2014 – Listen to Parents!

 Parents oppose excessive, high-stakes testing, school closings and “choice”

Surveys consistently show that most parents want less testing, charter school expansion and school closings and more support for neighborhood public schools. The 2013 Gallup/PDK poll of public opinion about public education (http://pdkintl.org/noindex/2013_PDKGallup.pdf) showed some of the strongest public support in decades for public schools and teachers while rejecting many of the current education reform practices like high stakes testing, vouchers, and de-funding of schools.Parents Across America founding member Helen Gym, a Philadelphia public school parent, was a guest analyst for the PDK poll. She concluded that

Parents overwhelmingly believe in public schools. We want financial support and smaller class sizes. We want a focus on teaching and learning, not just test scores. Since education policy makers say parent support is a top indicator of school success, they would do well to act on what parents are saying.

Another 2013 poll (http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2013/072213b.cfm) found that:

Most parents with children in public schools do not support recent changes in education policy, from closing low-performing schools to shifting public dollars to charter schools to private school vouchers… Support for strong public schools over expanded vouchers and charters is widespread, with 77 percent supporting this approach, and that support cuts across political and class lines….And a 57 percent majority feel there is too much emphasis on testing today.

PAA’s position: This survey reinforces PAA’s approach as detailed in our position paper on ESEA reauthorization, “What Public School Parents Want in a New Federal Education Law” http://parentsacrossamerica.org/paa-reforming-esea/.

Overall, PAA opposes efforts to privatize public education through the expansion of charters, vouchers or other privately-run programs at the expense of regular public schools. We oppose the misuse and overuse of standardized tests to evaluate teachers, students or schools.

PAA recommends that Congress listen to parents and support policies and practices that have a track record of improving schools, and more reliable accountability and assessment practices. Specifically we suggest that a new ESEA include:

  • a focus on providing sufficient and equitable resources in all public schools, so that every child can receive a high-quality education,
  • improving schools rather than closing them, using evidence-based solutions backed by parents and other stakeholders,
  • less standardized testing and more reliable accountability and assessment practices,
  • programs that encourage the retention of professional, experienced teachers,
  • a full range of parent involvement opportunities, including a stronger, democratically-elected parent voice in decision making at the school, district, state, and national levels, and
  • the right of parents to opt their children out of standardized tests.

Fax sent 1-9-2014 For more information please visit us online at www.parentsacrossamerica.org

Posted on by Julie Woestehoff Posted in Misc

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