Monday, December 26, 2016

The Latest Tech Gadget Requires a Safety Talk with Your Kids

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

A LifeLock security expert and dad discusses why a conversation about tech safety with your kids is a must when gifting them the latest tech gadgets. He offers The Smart Talk as a fun, free, online tool to help facilitate the conversation.  

The holidays are here and most of us are busy looking for gifts. In fact 42 percent of parents with children under 18 plan to give their child a smart device as a holiday gift this year, according to a survey by Harris Poll conducted on behalf of LifeLock. Maybe it’s finally time for a smartphone or to purchase a new family computer or some other kind of connected device. There are a lot of things to choose from, and these days more and more of them involve having your kids online.

As you gift your child such a device, consider having a conversation about security with them. It’s important to your child’s safety, and while it may sound like a chore, it doesn’t have to be. The Smart Talk is a free, online tool to that’s here to help you facilitate a conversation.

The Smart Talk covers a range of topics, including:


Whether it’s texting with friends (or strangers), engaging in a video game chat room, or uploading pictures to servers halfway around the word, online safety should always be top of mind. It’s critical for your children to understand that it can be very hard to tell the difference between good people and bad.

In fact, anyone can pretend to be anything on the Internet.

Kids need to realize that online “friends” that they’ve never met are still strangers—strangers that may want to know more about their personal lives and habits. Predators may pretend to be a kid, and ask your child for photos of themselves. Kids should be in the habit of treating online “friends” the same as they would a stranger walking up to them on the street, for the same reasons.


Your kid is in her room, the door is closed, everyone else in the house is asleep. She shares personal thoughts on social media or she’s texting with friends, possibly sharing pictures. It feels private to them. The harsh reality is that what they are sharing is anything but private. Once something is available on the Internet, it’s pretty much staying there. As the saying goes, “the Internet never forgets”.

Maybe your kid wants to share a silly “selfie” with someone who promises to delete it. The supposed friend doesn’t delete it. In fact, they share it. Maybe someone gets ahold of your child’s smartphone (or her friend’s) while it’s unlocked, and starts going through the photos.

Help your kids understand the privacy isn’t something you can count on when sharing data online.


Online bullying through social media is a constant problem. It’s important to help your kids understand that it’s not okay to fully or be bullied. By having those conversations with your kids, they’ll feel more comfortable telling you about when something comes up. This includes video game chats, where your child may be exposed to all kinds of angry taunts and verbal abuse. If this is seen as “the norm,” it can be tempting for your child to join in or start their own attack later.

Another topic that goes beyond the trend of holiday gift giving, but that relates to connected devices your kids use is the Internet of Things.

More and more household devices and toys can connect to the internet. Toys want to download content from the internet—stories, new game modules, sounds, pictures. They also want to collect your kid’s name, maybe have your child take a picture of themselves with a built-in camera and display it as part of their online account. Some kids’ toys even have built-in Web browsers. They claim to have “child-safe filtering”, but earlier this month a security researcher demonstrated how to bypass the filtering on one toy tablet to access adult material. Frankly, it’s a mess.

Think twice about giving your child a toy that wants to go online. If you decide it’s worth it, spend time with your kids while they play with the toys and be alert for anything the device is doing (or asking your kids to do) that just doesn’t feel right.

Connected devices can open a whole new world for our kids. As parents, it’s our job to help them explore that world safely.

To have The Smart Talk with your kids, visit

Joe Gervais is a LifeLock cybersecurity expert.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tips You Need to Keep Kids Safe Online

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

Keeping your kids safe in the age of continuous internet access and social media is tougher than ever these days. My wife and I work in information security, but even we struggle to keep up with evolving technology, so staying safe online is a frequent dinner topic in our family.

With new websites and apps coming out every day, it’s easy to see how parents can feel a little overwhelmed. So what can you do to keep your kids safe? The biggest step is to start with a conversation. And the good news is, there’s an online tool to help!

The Smart Talk is a fun and simple way to develop tech ground rules with your kids. Developed by LifeLock and the National PTA, the interactive website enables families to create personalized technology ground rules together by discussing key online safety topics. These include safety and privacy, screen time, apps and downloads, texting and calling and social media and respect.

After agreeing on healthy limits together, your family will end up with a personalized and official family agreement that you can print, sign and post in your home for quick reference and revise throughout the year.

Our family recently had The Smart Talk, and there were many lessons learned all-around. Here are a few tips that may come handy when you have a safety tech talk with your kids.

Tip 1: Talk, don’t lecture
Lecturing kids about online security works about as well as lecturing them about putting their socks away. They just tune out, hearing only, “Blah blah Internet blah blah chatrooms.” But when you’re able to have an actual conversation with your kids, and get on their level, they can begin relating what they do online and what their friends do online to the issues they hear about in the news.

Tip 2: Help your kids understand that the internet is not private
This false sense of privacy can lure kids into revealing far more than they should, with potentially devastating results (such as harassment and bullying, possibly even leading to assaults and suicide). Talk to your kids about what privacy means and remind them that anything shared over the internet or over a smartphone has the potential to be made public. Tell them:
  • Social media accounts can be seen by others
  • Text messages and “selfies” can be copied, forwarded and shared
  • Information can be accessed on an unlocked device or broken into and posted freely on the internet
  • Location data, commonly made available by devices, can reveal where the photos were taken or where they are located at that moment
Tip 3: Treat safety in the digital world the same as safety in the real world
When our kids are online, they’re connected with the entire world. Would you let your kids bring home random people off the street or from the shopping mall? Into your home, into their rooms? Of course not. Similar to how you teach your child to be self-aware in a mall, movie theater or amusement park—your kids need to learn safe behaviors in the online world.

Tip 4: Help your kids understand that anyone can pretend to be anything on the internet
With social media, video game chatrooms and other remote chat tools, strangers can become familiar, even though your child has never actually met them. Kids need to understand that people they meet online could be someone other than who they say they are. Teach your kids that unless you’ve met someone in person, they are a stranger. Any time a stranger attempts to convince your child to meet up unsupervised or share private information, your child should assume that’s not a nice or safe person.

Bring this lesson to life with a game: Ask your kid to list all of the things an alligator would say to convince a duck that they should meet up in the swamp at night. Then, connect the alligator’s motivations with a fraudster online that is trying to lure your kid into sharing information. It sounds silly, but such a game can help drive the point home.

Tip 5: Sharing is good until you share too much
You’ve seen the websites and apps that ask you to share your name, home address, age, birthdate, phone number and more. Kids grow up learning that sharing is caring, but what happens when sharing information could leave your kid vulnerable to identity theft?

When it comes to sharing sensitive information, teach your kids that the best answer is no answer. Your kids should also know that a majority of sites don’t need all of your sensitive information. Most times you don’t need to add all your private information. Have your child use their favorite movie character as their name and profile pic. Children are clever, creative and motivated. Give them a nudge and they’ll take it from there.

Remind your kids that their friends need to be safe online too. Kids are stronger when they’re looking out for each other, when they understand the problems and have a mindset to protect themselves.

Visit to learn more about having a conversation about these key ways to stay safe online.

Joe Gervais is the father of five children and the security communications director at LifeLock.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Start With Hello

Our new Know the Signs video has gone viral, and so has its powerful message: Gun violence is preventable, but it’s easy to miss the warning signs of violence if you don’t know what to look for and how to intervene.

That’s why our Start With Hello program is so important: It teaches students the skills to reach out to those dealing with social isolation – who feel lonely and invisible, and may be at risk of hurting themselves or others – to help prevent violence before it happens. 

This no-cost program empowers young people to reach out and create a culture of inclusion around them, and we hope you’ll join hundreds of other schools and youth organizations across the country and participate in next year’s Start With Hello Week, February 6-10

Click here to start empowering your students to know the signs and learn more about how to participate in Start With Hello Week, February 6-10. 

Bringing Start With Hello to your school or youth organization helps raise awareness about the social isolation that is a growing epidemic among young people today – and we know awareness and inclusion are powerful tools for helping to build safer, healthier schools and prevent bullying. 

We provide all the materials you’ll need to participate in our no-cost Start With Hello Week – all you need to do is click below to learn more and sign up: 

Click here to learn more about Start With Hello Week and how to bring this lifesaving program to your school or youth organization during the week of February 6-10.  

Please don’t hesitate to reply with any questions, and thank you for helping us build a safer, more inclusive world for our children. 

Paula Fynboh 
National Field Director 

P.S. If you haven’t watched the video yet, click here.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Call All Local Leaders!

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Calling All Local Leaders! 
The National PTA Communications Department is reviewing of all of its e-newsletters and we invite all local PTA leaders to assist us in this process by sharing your experiences with the Local Leader e-newsletter. 
Is the content we provide useful? What do you think of the ads? Your feedback will help us improve our e-newsletters: Take our brief survey now.
Every person who submits a completed survey will be entered to win a $25 Visa gift card! 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Learning Heroes 2016 Parent Research Insights

LearningHeroesLogo(1).pngPlease join one of our Proud National Sponsors, Learning Heroes, On Monday, Dec. 12 at 2 p.m. EST, as they review the key findings from their 2016 parent research.
You'll discover ways to help further engage parents in their child's academic success.
For more info, visit:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Political Process and PTA

Trump Begins the Presidential Transition Process

President-Elect Trump has begun the presidential transition process ahead of his Jan. 20, 2017 inauguration by nominating individuals for leadership and cabinet positions. Notably for PTA advocates, the President-Elect has nominated Betsy DeVos, former chair of the American Federation of Children, to lead the Department of Education. DeVos must go through a confirmation process in U.S. Senate before officially becoming the next Secretary of Education.
DeVos is known for her work to increase access to charter schools and school choice options in Michigan and across the country. National PTA supports high-quality public education for all students and has a long-standing position against diverting public funds for private school voucher programs. For over a century, PTA members have worked with all members of Congress and every administration to implement our public policy priorities and invest in our nation's children. Our association is committed to continuing this tradition to make sure every child has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Webinar: How Elections Shift Power in Congress—Identifying and Building New Relations in a New Congress
What does this new Congress mean for you as an advocate? Join National PTA and the Congressional Management Foundation on Dec. 12 at 8 p.m. EST for this exclusive webinar for PTA members on how to identify and build relationships with new members of Congress. Presented by President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation Brad Fitch, advocates will learn:
  • How to build relationships with new Members of Congress
  • The value of identifying key committee chairs (and why some are more important than others)
  • And CMF research on best practices for building relationships with new lawmakers back home.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ed. News - Dec. 8, 2016

Ed. News - Dec. 8, 2016

State Board of Education to Meet December 12-13 | Ohio Department of Education

State Board of Education to Meet December 12-13 | Ohio Department of Education

What is Your PTA Story?

Storytelling 101
When: Thursday, Dec. 15
Time: 1 p.m. EST

shutterstock_509386438.jpgEveryone loves a good story. The stories we tell provide inspiration, build relationships and create a sense of community. Every PTA member has a story about what brought them into the PTA family—or they have a story about how their PTA solved a problem, helped a family or improved children's education in their community. 

We want to help you figure out how to tell your story and show you how sharing your story will help drive our mission to make every child's potential a reality by engaging families and communities to support all children's success. 

Join us for Storytelling 101—a webinar that will help you find your voice and share your story. In this first of a three-part webinar series on storytelling, we will discuss: 
  • Why You Should Tell Your Story 
  • The Foundations of an Impactful Story 
  • How You Can Use Your Story 
Featured Speakers: 
  • Anna King, National PTA Board of Directors Member 
  • Dianna MacDonald, California State PTA President-Elect

Do You Know of a Great PTA Advocate?

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
As we approach National PTA’s 120 year anniversary, it is important to stop and celebrate some of our members’ accomplishments. PTA has been a leader in working to improve the lives of all children—advocating for everything from hot school lunches to universal kindergarten.

As the Vice President of Advocacy for National PTA, I have the pleasure of traveling across the country and hearing from PTA members about their advocacy efforts, challenges and successes. At National PTA’s 2017 Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, we want to honor the incredible accomplishments of PTAs and their members.

The Dec.18 deadline is fast approaching for nominations for the 2017 Advocacy Awards, so if you know of an outstanding youth or individual PTA advocate, or know of a local unit or state level PTA that has done great advocacy work, nominate them to receive an award for their efforts from National PTA.
As in previous years, advocates may also nominate themselves in the youth and individual categories. Local and state category-winning PTAs will receive a monetary award. Nominations must be for efforts made in the last year.

The 2016 advocacy award winners were some of the most impressive advocates I’ve seen in my years as a PTA member. Massachusetts PTA, the state PTA winner, advocated on behalf of LGBTQ youth. Their efforts led to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously passing a measure to update the school system’s policies related to LGBTQ youth, which hadn’t been updated since 1992.

The local PTA award winner, Rochester Community PTA Council, worked to educate all PTA members and families communitywide on the specifics of a $185 million bond issue to make much-needed renovations and upgrades to school facilities, technology and infrastructure. The improvements would ensure students in Rochester are provided a high-quality education and have a safe environment in which to thrive and learn. With the efforts and contributions of Rochester Community PTA Council, the bond issue passed with 73% support.

The individual award winners were equally impressive. The Youth Advocate of the Year, Brian Rodriguez, worked to promote civic engagement and increase community involvement among youth of all ages in the Miami area. Joy Grayson, the 2016 Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year, led South Carolina PTA to adopt an annual legislative platform; organized and moderated an annual state legislative conference; and revamped the state membership unit to become a state advocacy unit, which engaged community members in PTA who had no affiliation with a local unit.

These two individual advocates and two state PTAs are just some of many examples of the incredible work that PTA members and PTAs are doing across the country.

That’s why we’re excited to hear about other standout PTA advocates and celebrate their efforts to improve the lives of all children with a 2017 Advocacy Award. For more info on how to nominate a person, PTA or yourself, visit or contact Lindsay Kubatzky. Deadline for submission is Dec. 18!

Shannon Sevier is the vice president of advocacy for National PTA.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ohio PTA Achievement Award for Someone Special!

Looking for a very special gift...for your Founders Day celebration...for an extraordinary volunteer...for an exceptional educator...for a splendid superintendent...or a posh principal???

How about an Ohio PTA Achievement Award?  The recipient will receive a certificate, pin, and a yearly subscription to our monthly newsletter.

Find out more about and to order an Achievement Award click here:
Achievement Award

Put in Your Order Today!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Statewide Membership Committee Conference Call

Monday, December 5: We will have our Statewide Membership Committee Conference call at 7:30 p.m.
Call in number: 712-775-7031
Access Code:   124-091-395

Membership Committee Call Agenda
  • Review Ohio Membership Totals To-Date
  • How Does Ohio Compare to Other States our Size
  • Highlight Units Exceeding Last Year's Total Members
  • Membership Incentive from Ohio PTA for January-March Turn Ins

Please plan to join us for the Membership Conference Call this Monday, December 5, at 7:30 p.m.  Thank you for all that you have done for Membership so far this year! Remember, Membership is a Year-Round Event!!

Thank you!
Angela Revay
Director of Membership
Ohio PTA

Why I Volunteer: An Ohio working mom's prospective involved in PTA...Woo Hoo!!!

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
Even at 40 years old, I still get scared. Driving out of town to a place I have never been before, going to exercise class for the first time, even flying on airplanes can give me a little anxiety. I say things to myself like:
  • You’re going to get lost.
  • You’re going to look stupid.
  • This plane could go down and there are still wet clothes in the washing machine.
But when my kids are scared I hear myself say things like:
  • This is an adventure!
  • You’ll make new friends!
  • Flying is safer than driving!
I know the right things to say to help them be brave, but I don’t say those things to myself.

The first time I volunteered to help with a PTA function, I was nervous. I had offered to help mount artwork for the Reflections program, only to find out the other volunteers were getting together at 11 a.m. at the school (But I work fulltime downtown?!).

I felt I couldn’t back out so I used vacation time. I got my orange “Volunteer” sticker at the office and met the other volunteers for the first time. They showed me where the PTA room was and we worked together for a couple of hours marveling at the little masterpieces. I remember finding my daughter’s painting in a pile with other kindergarten pieces and taping it to black paper. It was a fun day.

A few months later, I decided I would give volunteering another try. I showed up at the spring Carnival (not knowing anyone) and I was assigned to the cash register at the concessions table. I had worked the cash register one time as an employee at Bed, Bath & Beyond and I was a disaster (they kept me in the bedding department after that).

The cash register should have been the worst assignment at the PTA event. Except it wasn’t. Instead, I stood around and chatted with other moms and we all laughed every time I had to do math in my head and tried to count change. I made a lot of mistakes. But no one said I was stupid and they didn’t audit my register. People even thanked me for volunteering. After that, I knew I could do anything.

Fast forward five years and I still volunteer at most PTA events. And now that my kids are older, they always come with me. I still work full time, but I look forward to volunteering in the evening and on the weekends because I know I can bring my kids with me. I don’t have to sacrifice time with them in order to be involved at their school. And they can help too! (Or they can at least run around the cafeteria with their friends while the moms and dads are working.) Most importantly, I have made a lot of friends and my kids are friends with their kids.

If you have never volunteered for PTA, know this: It’s an adventure and you’ll make new friends! The wet clothes in the washing machine can wait.

Heather Zirke is the president of Grindstone PTA and mom to Aurelia, a fourth grader, and Kip, a second grader.