Friday, May 27, 2016

Parent toolkit for promoting water in schools

Please spread the word this week on the poisoning dangers of e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine to young children

Liquid nicotine has been in the news due to recently announced FDA regulations and a new study released in Pediatrics. With this media publicity and child-resistant packaging legislation taking effect in July, now is the perfect time to raise awareness about the poisoning risks associated with liquid nicotine. To reflect new data from the study, Prevent Child Injury has updated the liquid nicotine toolkit, which includes a customizable press release, newsletter/blog, FAQ for parents, social media posts, and a Pinterest board. Use these materials (or any of your own) to join the conversation about liquid nicotine.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Letter from Dr. Lonny J. Rivera Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction to Ohio PTA President

Far too many Ohioans know the heartache that comes from losing a loved one to a drug overdose. It’s a heartache that touches all of us when a neighbor, co-worker or classmate falls victim to this growing plague. The epidemic of abuse and addiction touches every community — urban, suburban or rural. No one is immune.
Letter from Dr. Lonny J. Rivera Interim Superintendent of Public Instruction

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Presidential Forum Thursday, May 26

National PTA is excited to announce that we are a sponsor of the Presidential Forum hosted by the Committee for Education Funding (CEF) on Thursday, May 26 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET. National PTA has been an active member of CEF for many years working with over 100 education organizations to support increased federal investments in education programs. The Presidential Forum will feature a unique opportunity to hear an in-depth analysis of each candidate’s education priorities from high-level representatives on their campaign teams.

Award-winning journalist Candy Crowley will moderate the event and give the audience a chance to ask questions about the importance of investing in education and what education policy might look like in a new administration. All PTA members are invited to watch the broadcast live from the Newseum in Washington, D.C. and participate in the forum by submitting questions for the speakers or tweet your question using #CEFpresForum.

We hope you can join the critical conversation and find out about each of the candidate’s education policy platforms in the 2016 race for the White House! The full agenda of speakers and times for the Presidential Forum is below. Please contact Joshua Westfall ( with any questions you may have about the Presidential Forum.

Please feel free to share widely with your state and local PTA networks and on social media.  National PTA and the Government Affairs staff will be tweeting during the event.

2016 CEF Presidential Forum Agenda

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM: Opening Remarks

10:15 AM – 11:00 AM: 1st Panel—Presidential Campaign Surrogates
  • Ann O’Leary, Senior Policy Advisor, Hillary Clinton Campaign
  • Donni Turner, Policy Advisor, Bernie Sanders Campaign
  • Policy Advisor from the Donald Trump Campaign (invited)

11:00 AM – 11:45 AM: 2nd Panel—Representatives from Education Think Tanks
  • Lindsey BurkeWill Skillman Fellow in Education, Institute for Family, Community, and Opportunity, The Heritage Foundation
  • Nat Malkus, Fellow in Education Policy Studies, American Enterprise Institute 
  • Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy, Center for American Progress

11:45 AM – 12:00 PM: Closing Remarks

End Bullying From #Day1

Day1-ImageAccording to, an average of 49% of youth in grades 4-12 are bullied (there is also bullying in preschool-grade 3). More than 70% of youth have witnessed bullying in their schools. Sadly, the old adage “Sticks and stones….” is a falsehood. The effects of bullying can lead to poor academic performance, depression and physical issues. This is an issue we can stop through proactive conversations with kids about treating people with respect and kindness. When bystanders intervene, instances of bullying stop 57% of the time.

To help communities start to have these critical conversations, the family of Tyler Clementi created a program in 2010 in response to the bullying their son endured as a freshman at Rutgers University by his roommate and others. A bright, talented and creative young man, Tyler became a victim of cyber-bullying in college which ultimately led to his death by suicide. Tyler’s family wanted to do something to stop any other person from being bullied. They formed the Tyler Clementi Foundation and spoke with experts, parents, educators and kids, who all told them that the best way to end bullying is through prevention. This led to the birth of the #Day1 Campaign to end bullying.

The #Day1 Campaign is a free, research-based and simple-to-use program that supports and ensures that everyone is on the same page when it comes to bullying behavior and expectations within school. It does so in the following ways:
  • Recognizes a person of leadership such as a teacher, principal or coach
  • Provides clear language that addresses specific harassing and bullying behavior
  • Offers tools for bystanders to become “upstanders”
  • Ensures there is verbal confirmation that the expectations are understood
This program is not intended to replace any current programming in a school. It simply outlines what bullying is and offers additional tools to end it. It’s been used by schools and community groups all over the U.S. to supplement their anti-bullying programs.

How Can Your PTA Help?

Encourage school and community leaders to bring the #Day1 Campaign to your schools, community groups, teams and after-school groups. Parents, students and coaches have all used the #Day1 program with their communities and you can, too. Simply go to and download sample toolkit materials. They are available for all age groups so they’ll work for all schools. Feel free to make this program your own! As long as the wording stays the same, you can custom-fit the #Day1 Campaign for your school. After you use #Day1, let us know how it has made an impact!

No kid deserves to go through life being attacked. Through the collaboration of parents, faculty, staff and the community, we can address bullying and finally put an end to it from #Day1.
For more info, email us at or find our twitter @TylerClementi.

Katey Aquilina is the coordinator of the #Day1 Campaign of the Tyler Clementi Foundation.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Final Membership Committee Conference Call This School Year!

Thursday, May 26: We will have our monthly Membership Committee Conference Call at 8:00 p.m.
Call in number: 712-775-7031
Access Code: 124-091-395

Membership Committee Conference Call Agenda

Wrapping up Membership for this year

Planning Membership Drive for Next Year

Please plan to join us for the Membership Committee Conference Call this Thursday, May 26, at 8:00 p.m.! PLEASE NOTE that the date and time have changed. Thank you for all that you have done for Membership this year!

Thank you!
Angela Revay
Director of Membership
Ohio PTA

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003) / UPDATE!

The Government Affairs Department would like to share an update on yesterday’s (5/18/16) House Education and the Workforce markup of the child nutrition reauthorization bill­—Improving Child Nutrition and Education Act of 2016 (H.R. 5003). The bill passed out of committee on a 20-14 vote after 31 amendments were offered. National PTA sent this letter in opposition to the bill prior to yesterday’s markup. 

Below are few amendments we wanted to highlight:

  • Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-3) offered an amendment  to make “cultural foods” comply with whole grain-rich requirements in school meals which passed by voice vote. The original bill exempted “cultural foods” from whole grain-rich requirements in school meals.

  • Representative Susan Davis (D-CA-53) offered an amendment to delete language that would limit the number of times schools can contact families encouraging them to participate in the school meals program. This amendment was defeated by a 16-19 vote with all Democratic members voting in favor of the amendment as well as three Republicans—Representatives Joe Heck (R-NV-3), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) and Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21). Because the amendment was defeated, the bill retains language that limits the amount of times a school can contact families about the school meals program to two times per school year.

  • Representative Jared Polis (D-CO-2) offered an amendment that passed to add parents to the list of stakeholders involved in the three year review process of nutrition standards.

Since the bill has passed out of Committee, it needs to go to the House floor for further consideration. At this time we have not heard when and if it will go the House floor, however we will certainly keep you updated on the progress of the House and Senate child nutrition reauthorization bills.  The Senate passed their child nutrition reauthorization bill out of the Senate Agriculture Committee in February, but the Senate has not considered it on the Senate floor yet either.

A recording of the markup can be viewed at this link. A full list of amendments offered at the markup can be viewed at this link in 2-3 business day.

If you have any questions about either the House or Senate bills or the process, please reach out to Josh Westfall at or at 703-518-1249. 

Consider a “Digital Diet” for Your Family

As tablets, smartphones and other personal technology devices play an increasingly dominant role in all of our lives, finding a good balance seems to be a tricky endeavor in many American households. Both parents and teens log more than five hours a day on their devices (outside of work and school), often during family dinners and while spending leisure time together. Many people also use these devices for hours each day with earbuds or headphones.

Finding balance is critical for many reasons, including children’s communication health. Dedicated time for verbal exchange— listening, talking, reading and interacting face-to-face —is essential for young children’s speech and language development. It is critical that time spent alone with devices (even on educational apps!) does not take away from time for interaction with parents. This “talk time” is also a precursor for reading, academic and social success. The benefits extend to older children as well, whose brains are still developing throughout the teen years, as well as family relationships.

Too much time on digital devices doesn’t just negatively impact communication health and academic success, it also has an effect on physical health. There has been a tremendous increase in hearing loss among children recently. Noise-induced hearing loss is a preventable problem, but once it occurs, it is irreversible. Earbud and headphone misuse can be especially problematic.

May is Better Hearing & Speech Month, a great time for technology-dependent families to introduce some better habits. (The exception being for children who require assistive devices to communicate.) A recent survey from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) showed that once parents and teens learn more about the potential negative effects of tech overuse, they are willing to change their habits. Being mindful of balance is also key as we approach summer, when increased leisure time often means even more tech time for kids. Here are some “digital diet” tips from ASHA:
  1. Create a family technology plan—together. An agreed-upon set of rules is a good way to keep everyone on track. Schedule regular check-ins to determine whether you’re actually substituting tech time with more quality time together. Surprisingly, most teens whose parents set rules agree that the rules are fair—and parents report they work.
  1. Designate tech-free zones in the home. The kitchen, bedrooms, the family room…there may be one place in your home that you can keep devices out of, as a general rule. This helps with the temptation to constantly check your phone or jump at the sound of every incoming notification. It makes a difference to even have 30 minutes free from tech distractions.
  1. Talk instead of text, when possible. Texting offers tremendous convenience for parents to get in touch with their kids. But texting is not a replacement for verbal exchange. Tone, facial expressions and other nonverbal signals are just some of the ways in which texting falls short (and no, emojis don’t do the trick). Try to avoid texting your child when both of you are at home, as a start.
  1. Resist overreliance on technology to pacify boredom. Technology is an easy way to keep even the youngest children entertained. However, the best opportunities for conversation, learning and bonding are often found in situations that may be viewed as boring, such as while running errands or on a long car trip.
  1. Always practice safe listening, especially when using earbuds or headphones.Teach kids to keep the volume down (a good guide is half volume) and to take listening breaks. These are messages kids need to “hear” from their parents.
Remember, if you ever have concerns about your child’s hearing or speech/language skills, consult a certified audiologist or speech-language pathologist.

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Jaynee A. Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A is a pediatric audiologist and the 2016 ASHA president.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Digital Communication Best Practices: Leverage Digital Platforms to Enga...

Combating Sexual Harassment in Schools

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
genderbasedviolenceAs parents, we worry. It’s in our nature. Our kids’ very first day of school marks a milestone that signals the beginning of their academic career—a journey we are prepared to take with them. We relax as the days become weeks, months and years, but then that nagging anxiety begins to creep back in when our child is on the doorstep of high school.

Pushing through the double doors of high school means ratcheting up your vigilance. It means having more in-depth conversations about topics like the dangers of drug and alcohol consumption, driving while texting and yes, even sex. Sex might be the most difficult topic to speak frankly about, but it’s a conversation worth having, especially given the alarming numbers from the Centers for Disease Control. Among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2013:
  • 47% engaged in sexual intercourse
  • 34% engaged in sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these
  • 41% did not use a condom the last time they had sex
  • 15% had engaged in sex with four or more people during their life thus far
But there’s more to discuss than risky sexual behavior. The AAUW published findings of a survey in a report titled, Crossing the Line: Sexual Harassment in School conducted in the 2010-2011 school year. The survey questioned 1,965 public school students in grades 7-12 about sexual harassment in all its forms; bullying, teasing and touching.

The survey found that about 48% the students in grades 7–12 experienced some form of sexual harassment at school during the 2010–11 school year. Nearly half the students encountered sexual harassment in person and 30% encountered sexual harassment through texting, email, Facebook or other electronic channels. Many experienced sexual harassment both in person and electronically.

You may think once your child has graduated high school there’s less cause for alarm, but that’s unfortunately not true. The statistics for sexual assaults on college campuses are worse than those of high school and have garnered the attention and alarm of students, school administrators and elected officials like President Barack Obama. In response, more focus has been placed on supporting Title IX.

Title IX is a United States Education Amendment that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in federally-funded education programs and activities, which includes all public and private schools, colleges and universities receiving federal funds. A lesser-known part of Title IX requires that every public school designate a person to be the Title IX coordinator. This person should be visible and students and staff can reach out to this person in the event of a discriminatory incident. If a complaint is filed, the coordinator oversees the school’s response to comply with and carry out its responsibilities as laid out in Title IX. They also identify and address any patterns or systemic problems that rise to the surface. In order to do their job successfully, this person must understand the requirements of not only Title IX, but of the school’s policies and procedures on sex discrimination as well. To reduce sexual harassment incidents, training for students must be conducted on Title IX and sexual violence.
k12More and more high school students are actively addressing the issue of sexual harassment and assault through programs such as the SafeBAE program. The SafeBAE program encourages students to form an on-campus group to help educate students on this very sensitive topic. SafeBAE receives tweets from all corners of the country and posts the latest news on topics related to sexual assault. Other programs and resources for students, families and schools include NotAloneCoaching Boys into Men and Shifting Boundaries.

So, now we ask “What can parents do?”

Ask the principal of your school:
  • Does my school have a Title IX coordinator?
  • Do the students know who this person is?
  • Does the school offer any training for teachers, students and parents?
  • What is the school’s policy on sexual harassment?
  • Do they discuss the sexual harassment policies in health classes?
Most importantly, have a frank discussion with your child. If we partner with our schools to educate our children earlier about the damaging emotional, educational and physical effects of sexual harassment in elementary and secondary schools, maybe we won’t have to worry so much about the first day of school in college.

Bonnie Cannon is a National PTA Board Member, National PTA Health and Safety Committee member and President of Park Hill High School PTA in Kansas City, MO.

Friday, May 6, 2016

How Do They Do It?

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

One hardworking local PTA meets the wide-ranging needs of 1,800 K-8 students and their families spread across four grade level centers.

Kim Mayton, a mom to seven-year-old twins, has a familiar story about how she ended up in a PTA leadership role. “When my kids were entering pre-K, the teacher told us parents that the class needed a Room Mom. I was interested in getting involved, but also intimidated. You couldn’t volunteer as a Room Mom unless you first joined the PTA. That made me pause. I had certain stereotypes in my head about the PTA and I definitely hesitated. But I wanted to help my kids transition well into school, so I went ahead and joined.” Kim laughs as she recalls, “It kind of snowballed from there.”

Kim now serves as the vice president of fundraising, co-chair of hospitality and chair of the school supply committee at Homewood PTA. Located 25 miles south of Chicago in the village of Homewood, Ill., this one hardworking PTA supports 1,800 K-8 students and their families spread across four grade level centers. “It definitely can be a challenge to have one PTA spanning multiple campuses,” remarks Kim. “We probably don’t run exactly like a traditional elementary school PTA but I’m betting we are more alike than different.”

Homewood PTA currently has their dues set at $10. With a little over 600 paid members and a typical annual operating budget of approximately $40,000, successful fundraisers are critical to ensuring they have adequate resources to deliver the depth and breadth of programs their PTA has become known for. “We simply cannot afford to have unsuccessful or underperforming fundraisers,” says Homewood PTA president Ann-Marie Webster. “We have to get this right to hit our budget. We carefully consider which fundraisers will yield the best results while not being a burden to our volunteers and families.”

So, that prompts the burning question: Which fundraisers does Homewood PTA choose?
A member of the Homewood PTA board was a longtime Schwan’s Home Service customer and advocated for the group to consider the Schwan’s Cares™ program (the charitable fundraising platform within Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.). When Homewood PTA discovered that Schwan’s Home Service delivers right to individual customers’ doors, instead of requiring a scheduled pick-up by families or requiring the PTA to accept and manage inventory for distribution, “We were thrilled!” says Kim.

Homewood PTA launched their first Schwan’s Cares campaign this school year. In addition to all the “usual” promotions, such as featuring the campaign on the PTA’s website, Facebook and sending home printed materials to families, they recognized that “tasting how great the food is would probably lead a lot more people to buy it.” So the PTA used a small amount of funds to purchase a selection ofSchwan’s® foods and encouraged tastings at two PTA general meetings. Kim notes, “I highly recommend offering samples for any food-based fundraiser based on this experience – even if you have to buy the sample food out of PTA funds. It really helped people decide what to order!”
The PTA took some additional steps to promote the fundraiser, including:
  • Passing out Schwan’s® catalogs (tagged with a sticker for the Homewood PTA fundraiser) at local libraries and senior centers, after receiving permission to do so at those locations
  • Collaborated with the secretaries at the four campuses to compose and send an e-blast to all families about the campaign
  • Making sure that fliers and catalogs are featured at any school events during the campaign
Ann-Marie cautions that the relationship with Schwan’s Home Service is new and they don’t yet have a full grasp on how profitable these campaigns will be, but she is optimistic based on how things are going. “Have you had Schwan’s® ice cream? It’s amazing. If people just order lots of that, we’re going to do fine.”

Advice for Fellow PTA Leaders
Given Homewood PTA’s success over the years, what advice does Kim and Ann-Marie have for other local PTAs?

Ann-Marie has plenty of suggestions. To start: “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. One or two people cannot run a PTA! If people indicate a willingness to serve in some way, actually ask them to serve! Delegate!” In addition, she suggests:
  • Homewood PTA prioritized having a modern website for their PTA and they keep it current so members will want to check it frequently and rely on it for information.
  • Use all forms of communication. Paper is fine, such as the typical PTA newsletter that goes home in the backpacks. But also use social media. Find parents who are really good at those and ask them to take responsibility for updating. Homewood PTA values social media because “it creates two-way dialogue.”
  • Show appreciation constantly to your volunteers, administrators and teachers. Homewood PTA has a strong bond with their campus principals and “they are amazing allies. They promote the value of PTA at all opportunities. They encourage all the teachers to join PTA and always are supporting us.”
  • Always talk about and “promote” what PTA is doing to support the students. “When individuals know all the things that PTA has been doing to benefit their kids and the community, they will pay dues and maybe even donate more than the dues.”
For more info about the fundraising opportunities and discounts available to schools and PTA members through the Schwan’s Cares™ program, visit

Kris Carey Prevatte is the Associate Director of Corporate Alliances for National PTA and a former local PTA president in Maryland.
Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. is a financial sponsor of National PTA. National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Frequently Asked Questions (ESSA)

The U.S. Department of Education posted an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Department has prepared these FAQs to support states and school districts in understanding expectations during the transition to full implementation of the ESSA. They recognize there are questions that are still not addressed in this document; but will continue to update and add to these FAQs over the coming months.
National PTA has posted these FAQs on National PTA’s ESSA webpage – along with other materials to help you, PTAs, and parents across the country understand the law and how they can be involved in the implementation process moving forward.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

National PTA Applauds 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes

National PTA Applauds 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes

Hayes and other educators from across the country honored at the White House

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (May 4, 2016) — Last evening, President Barack Obama honored Jahana Hayes as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year in a special ceremony at the White House. Hayes teaches history at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Conn. She was selected to receive the honor for her commitment to the importance of service-learning and ensuring students are prepared to achieve success in life. In addition to Hayes, other educators from across the country were also selected for personal recognition by President Obama, including Jennifer Doll-Fowler, a second-grade teacher in Omaha, Neb. and president of Nebraska PTA.

“Jahana, Jennifer and teachers like them across the country have an immense impact on the lives and futures of our nation’s children,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA congratulates Jahana on her recognition as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year and applauds her, Jennifer and all teachers for the hours they spend and efforts they make to ensure every child reaches his/her full potential and is prepared for long-term success.”

Hayes strives to send students into the world not just academically prepared but as conscientious and productive members of society. Connecting lessons learned in school to real life is an integral part of her instruction. As the 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Hayes is committed to engaging people who have not traditionally been part of the conversation to join in the effort to prepare well-rounded students for success—in school and beyond.

The National Teacher of the Year is chosen from among the State Teachers of the Year by a national selection committee representing leading education organizations, including National PTA. The National Teacher of the Year program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

In addition to being a part of the National Teacher of the Year program, National PTA designates the first week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week to thank, support and elevate these real life superheroes for their important contributions and the difference they make for children nationwide.

“Our teachers give so much,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of National PTA. “It is vital that teachers have our support and that we honor and thank them during Teacher Appreciation Week and all year round for going above and beyond for our kids.”

About National PTA
National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.

Media Contact
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA, (703) 518-1242

Mental Health Awareness Day

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog


One in five children in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition and research shows that about 50% of all mental disorders that happen in adulthood can be identified as early as the age of 14.

Learning that your child may have a mental disorder may be challenging, but it’s important to know that children can and do recover from such conditions. Early intervention and access to services and supports is key to supporting every child’s mental health.

Every year, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) hosts National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day to raise awareness about children’s mental health. The Awareness Day 2016 national event in Washington, DC— “Finding Help. Finding Hope.”—will explore how communities can improve access to behavioral health services and supports for children, youth and young adults with mental and substance use disorders and their families.

This year, parents and caregivers around the country will have the chance to interact with the national event through Awareness Day Live!—an opportunity for families to join the national conversation by viewing the event’s live webcast and posing questions to panelists on stage via digital and social media. You’ll hear from a teacher, a student and a parent about ways to connect with mental health services and supports through the school system.

The event takes place Thurs., May 5, in Washington, DC at 7 p.m. EST at The George Washington University School of Media & Public Affairs’ Jack Morton Auditorium. If you are in the district, you can register to attend.

If you can’t make it to the event in-person, here are a few ways you can participate in Awareness Day Live!:
  • Watch the live webcast on May 5 at 7 p.m. ESTView the national event webcast.
  • Use social media to join the onstage discussion via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using the hashtag #HeroesofHope.
  • Your children and youth can organize a group of friends to participate in the Awareness Day 2016 “Text, Talk, Act” discussion on May 5 by texting “START” to 89800. “Text, Talk, Act” is a text messaging platform that leads small groups through a conversation about mental health and how to help a friend in need.
  • View the on-demand version of the national event at a later date with a small group, and discuss how children with behavioral health conditions can be better supported in your school.
For more info about National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day or for mental health resources, please visit