Saturday, February 6, 2016

Congratulations National PTA Advocacy Award Winners!

National PTA Honors Outstanding Advocacy Efforts for Children and Education

Parent and youth honorees to be recognized at 2016 National PTA Legislative Conference

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 5, 2016) — National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2016 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor parents and youth from across the country for their leadership and commitment to being a powerful voice for all children and a strong advocate for public education. The honorees will be recognized at the 2016 National PTA Legislative ConferenceWednesday, March 9 during a luncheon at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award – Massachusetts PTA
Committed to speaking up for every child, Massachusetts PTA dedicated its efforts over the past year to advocating for the education, health, safety and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth to ensure they have every opportunity to reach their full potential. As part of its efforts, Massachusetts PTA established a LGBTQ chair position on its Board of Directors and formed a committee comprised of LGBTQ students and parents. Massachusetts PTA also partnered with other local and national advocacy groups and secured a seat at the table to help shape policies impacting LGBTQ students and families. The association’s efforts and leadership contributed to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education unanimously passing a measure to update the school system’s handling of LGBTQ issues, which had not been updated since 1992. A key component of Massachusetts PTA’s LGBTQ advocacy plan also involved increasing family engagement and strengthening partnerships between PTAs, schools and the LGBTQ community across the state to ensure all families feel welcomed, supported and are empowered to support their children’s success.

  • Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award – Rochester Community PTA Council (Michigan)
Rochester Community PTA Council is being honored for its efforts to educate families throughout the community on legislative issues impacting children and schools and the importance of getting involved. The Rochester Community School District proposed a $185 million bond issue for inclusion on the ballot in the November 2015 election. The passage of the bond was essential for the district to make much needed renovations and upgrades to school facilities, technology and infrastructure to ensure students are provided a high-quality education and have a safe environment in which to thrive and learn. Among its many advocacy efforts, Rochester Community PTA Council worked to educate all PTA members and families communitywide on the specifics of the bond issue and the importance of getting out to vote. With the efforts and contributions of Rochester Community PTA Council, the bond issue passed with 73% support.  

  • Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award – Joy Grayson (South Carolina)  
Joy Grayson is a passionate advocate for education opportunity and equity for all of South Carolina’s children. As vice president of advocacy for South Carolina PTA, Grayson led the adoption of an annual legislative platform for the association; organized and moderated an annual state legislative conference; and revamped the state membership unit to become a state advocacy unit, engaging community members in PTA who had no affiliation with a local unit. The association also partnered with other education advocacy organizations in South Carolina to develop a Collaborative K-12 Public Education Policy platform. Under Grayson’s leadership, South Carolina PTA has had a significant presence at the table. Elected officials have asked for the association’s input on key issues, interest groups have attended meetings to present information, and state officials have participated in South Carolina PTA conventions and conferences. In addition to working at all levels to build and strengthen South Carolina PTA’s position as a compelling education advocate, Grayson has traveled throughout the state to empower all stakeholders to stand up for children.

  • Outstanding Youth Advocacy Award – Brian Rodriguez (Florida)
Brian Rodriguez has worked to promote civic engagement and increase community involvement among youth of all ages in the Miami area. As a member of the Miami-Dade County Youth Commission and the Miami Lakes Youth Activities Task Force, Rodriguez has collaborated with city officials and education and faith leaders to offer new approaches to provide youth with avenues to be actively involved in the community. Rodriguez’s passion, dedication and leadership have increased youth engagement in the community, helped families grow stronger and improved the local economy. Communities and constituents across the state of Florida have sought Rodriguez’s guidance to help strengthen youth engagement and create a bridge between students, families, schools and civic leaders.

“Advocacy is critical to improve education and the lives and futures of our nation’s children. Massachusetts PTA, Rochester Community PTA Council, Joy Grayson and Brian Rodriguez exemplify what it means to speak up and take action,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “Their efforts and leadership have truly made a difference for children, families, schools and communities. We are pleased to recognize them with the 2016 Outstanding Advocacy Awards.”

Every year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to explore the association’s public policy priorities and actively advocate for the education, health and well-being of every child.

During the conference — themed, “Family Engagement Drives Student Success” — attendees will hear from speakers and participate in interactive workshops and advocacy skill-building trainings. Attendees will also amplify their voices by meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 10. For more information, visit

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 parent involvement 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

How to Use Social Media to Market Your PTA (and increase membership)"

"How to Use Social Media to Market Your PTA"
If you missed the terrific November statewide communications committee conference call with National PTA media expert--Heidi Wilson--don’t miss out on this opportunity to interact and learn from her boss. 

SAVE THE DATE--Super Bowl Sunday, February 7th, 7 pm--statewide communications committee conference call featuring LaWanda Toney, Director, Strategic Communications for National PTA. 
Dial-in # (712) 775-7031 / Access Code: 276-129
This is the committee’s last statewide conference call for the 2015-2016 school year. Be sure to call in. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Senate Agriculture Committee Moves Forward on Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act

Posted: 04 Feb 2016 11:19 AM PST (Source: PTA One Voice Blog)
Last month, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry unanimously passed bipartisan legislation—Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act of 2016—to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act/Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act for five years.

The bipartisan reauthorization in the Senate comes after years of debate on how to move forward with school nutrition standards—even though the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in October that 97% of schools were successfully meeting updated nutrition standards.

As part of the bipartisan compromise, the bill would keep the current fruits and vegetables requirement intact—that all students must have at least a half cup of fruits and vegetables with every federally funded school meal. However, grain and sodium requirements are expected to change through USDA’s rulemaking process (instead of the legislative process) before the next school year.

The new regulations for rulemaking would consist of delaying target 2 sodium restrictions in schools from school year (SY) 2017-2018 to 2019-2020 and lowering whole grain-rich requirements from 100% of grains served in schools to 80%. Although National PTA is not in favor of these changes, our association is still in support of the overall bill.

The bipartisan compromise preserves the progress made on school nutrition standards as well as school breakfast and lunch programs while keeping the child nutrition reauthorization process moving forward.

The bill also contains many key elements of the School Food Modernizations Act (S. 540)—that National PTA supported. The reauthorization bill would establish loan assistance and grant programs to help school districts upgrade their food service facilities and assist with staff training opportunities.

The Senate child nutrition reauthorization bill would also require studies on the effects of serving children healthy and nutritious meals at school, which include research and reviews of:
  • Nutrition education best practices
  • State training and technical assistance for schools to serve healthy school meals
  • Effects of selling varieties of milk on milk consumption at school
  • Target sodium requirements for schools and the effect on childrens’ health and school nutrition programs
The Improving Child Nutrition Integrity and Access Act is expected to move to the Senate floor for consideration in the coming months. The House Education and the Workforce Committee has not released their reauthorization of the child nutrition act yet and the possibility of the House taking up the Senate bill is still unclear.

Sign-up to receive our PTA Takes Action e-newsletter and follow @NationalPTA on Twitter for updates on the bill and information on other National PTA legislative priorities.

Joshua Westfall is the government affairs manager at National PTA.

Upcoming Events/Deadlines

Communications Committee Conference Call
Super Bowl Sunday (2.7.16) 7 to 8 pm
Special Guest Speaker: LaWanda Toney, Director
Strategic Communications for National PTA
Topic: How to Use Social Media to Market Your PTA
Dial-in # (712) 775-7031 / Access Code: 276-129

Membership Conference Call
Thursday, February 11th, at 7:30 pm
Dial-in # (712) 775-7031 / Access Code: 124-091-395

Head to to enter to win Disney World vacation! NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.), Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands 21 years and older. Ends 2/16/16. To enter and for official rules, including odds and prize descriptions, visit Void where prohibited.

An Important Webinar on Child Poverty in Ohio

Join the Ohio PTA Directors of Advocacy (Tandra Rutledge), Education (Jackie Arendt), Family-School Partnership (Pam Bonnett) and Health, Welfare & Safety (Lisa Catalano) for an important must participate webinar. “Making Sense of Poverty: The real costs to education and PTA’s investment in children” will take place on Founders' Day (February 17th), at 8 pm. To register for the webinar, please email

Advocacy Award
PTA members can earn this award by taking part in advocacy activities at the local, state, and federal levels within an one‐year time period (March 1 –February 28).  PTA members who accumulate 150 or more advocacy‐ based points will earn an Ohio PTA Advocacy Award.  The award consists of a certificate, pin, and recognition at the Ohio PTA Convention and in the Ohio PTA Voice. Due March 1st
M.A.C.K. Award
Apply for the M.A.C.K. Award...due March 1st
Prose, poetry and drama are all accepted. The entry must relate to the program theme, “HOW A MALE POSITIVELY CHANGED/INFLUENCED MY LIFE.” Whether an entry uses a variety of techniques or a simple approach, it will be judged primarily on how well the student uses his or her artistic vision to portray the theme. There will be a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner chosen from each division – Primary (Preschool – Grade 2), Intermediate (Grades 3 – 5), Middle School (Grades 6 – 8), and High School (Grades 9 -12). The 1st place winners will receive $100.00; 2nd place winners will receive $50.00; and 3rd place winners will receive $25.00. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Every Student Succeeds Act

Posted: 03 Feb 2016 09:43 AM PST (Source: National PTA One Voice Blog)
The U.S. Department of Education released guidance to help states and districts improve the quality of assessments and eliminate redundant and misaligned tests. Of significance to PTA, the guidance encourages Title I schools to conduct assessment literacy nights to increase understanding and communication between families and schools about the use of assessments and how to use test results to support learning at home. Acting U.S. Secretary of Education, John B. King Jr., also released this video explaining more about the guidance.

National PTA acknowledges the important role that high-quality assessments play in promoting equity and improving the outcomes of all of our nation’s children. Assessments provide valuable information to parents, teachers and school leaders about the growth and achievement of their students. At the same time, National PTA recognizes the concerns many parents and educators have about the over-emphasis on testing and impact it has on student learning opportunities in the classroom. We applaud the Department’s guidance to help address the current challenges and provide actionable opportunities for states and districts to carry out the work of improving assessments.

The letter to Chief State School Officers by the Department of Education follows President Obama’s Testing Action Plan that was released in October 2015 and identifies key principles for good assessments. While the newly enacted Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) encourages movement away from high stakes testing, the Department’s new document provides immediate opportunities for states and districts to take advantage of current federal resources to reduce testing and support more effective assessment systems since the new law will not take full effect until the 2017–2018 school year.

National PTA recognizes that many states are still working to implement high quality assessment systems that seek to provide valuable information to parents, teachers and school leaders about the growth and achievement of their students. The National PTA Board of Directors recently adopted a position statement on assessment that outlines several recommendations that were highlighted in the Department’s guidance such as auditing of assessment systems to reduce unnecessary tests, ensuring appropriate development, reliability and implementation of high quality assessments, clear and multiple means of communication and engagement with families on assessment, improving the timeliness and comprehension of assessment results, and providing adequate professional development to educators on assessment.

As stated in the PTA Board of Directors adopted position statement, National PTA believes a sound and comprehensive assessment system should include multiple measures of student growth and achievement that reflect the depth and breadth of knowledge and skills that students are expected to acquire, as well as their capacity to perform critical competencies. The association has long held that neither one test, nor a single data point should ever be the sole determinant of a student’s academic or work future. High-quality assessments play a vital role in providing valuable information to parents, students and teachers on student progress.

Jacki Ball is the director of government affairs at National PTA.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Angela's Advice...Reaching Out to Past Award Recipients

Be sure to contact former staff and past award recipients from your building.  Often people think they are a lifetime member and do not realize they need to join every year.  Create an Associate or Supporting Partner Membership for just $5 for example.  This would be for people that are not going to be able to take advantage of the events your unit hosts but would still like to show their support.  If your building has a Founders Day event, be sure to invite these people to that as well and have your membership table set up.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Student Memberships

Milton High School is All in for our Students

Milton High School PTSA is committed to excellence. Colin Powell said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” Milton High School’s PTSA made a commitment to becoming a National PTA School of Excellence by strengthening our programs relative to our focus area goal from the National PTA School of Excellence Program as “Ensure Health & Safety of Students”, with the objective to support students’ emotional and mental well-being through our programs and events.
Milton PTSA student and parent volunteers are on hand for our orientation session.
Milton PTSA student and parent volunteers are on hand for our orientation session.
To accomplish this goal, we offer information, education, support and guidance for the growing community concerns over our teens’ mental health. Recognizing that the teen years are wrought with internal and external stressors, we provided a forum in the fall to discuss the topic via our Milton Mom’s and Dad’s luncheon featuring outside speaker John Trautwein of The Will to Live Foundation. During the second semester, Dr. Daniel Falor spoke to us about “Hormones, Brain Chemistry, and Depression in Teens”. One of our business partners, Whole Foods, hosted this event in memory of an employee/former MHS student and provided a demonstration of healthy nontoxic snack solutions suitable for the teen years. We welcomed all families within the community, including Milton parents as well as parents from other area high schools.
Milton students test their texting and driving skills on driving simulators during a "Don't Text and Drive" event running concurrently with AT&T's "It Can Wait" campaign.
Milton students test their texting and driving skills on driving simulators during a “Don’t Text and Drive” event running concurrently with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign.
We also shared power by promoting and supporting MHS Kindness Week, a student initiative to encourage random acts of kindness in the MHS community. Our support of finals week included a social media blast to encourage parents to text their student MHSWLVU and #RepTheM, striving to bolster their confidence and ease their stress over testing.
Our goal related to Speaking up for Every Child was to increase Safe Home Pledge rates by giving parents an opportunity to pledge their support. The pledge focuses on the prevention of underage drinking and drug use, with the parents pledging to provide a well-supervised environment that will combat possible occurrences of drug or alcohol use in their home. The pledge is printed on the backside of all bilingual PTSA membership forms and is available on the Milton High School and PTSA websites. All families are encouraged to sign the pledge, and those families are then listed on the PTSA website in the Safe Home Pledge page. Due to our efforts at communicating the importance of the Safe Home Pledge, we successfully recruited over 400 families to sign the Safe Home this year.
In addition to Supporting Student Success outside the academic realm, our family involvement committee hosted a “Don’t Text and Drive” event concurrent with AT&T’s “It Can Wait” campaign. Two driving simulators were staged in the cafeteria during all lunches and the students tested their texting and driving skills. The computer software used with the driving simulators reinforced to students that texting and driving is indeed dangerous. As a result, students pledged their commitment to not text and drive on a large banner that was prominently displayed in the hallway. [Read more…]

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Statewide Membership Call

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Don't miss the Statewide Membership Call with Director of Membership Angela Revay
Thursday, February 11th, at 7:30 PM
Call-In# 712-775-7031
Access code: 124-091-395

Engaging Your Membership Through Social Media

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If you missed the terrific November statewide communications committee conference call with National PTA media expert--Heidi Wilson--don't miss out on this opportunity to interact and learn from her boss. SAVE THE DATE--Sunday, February 7th, 7 pm--statewide communications committee conference call featuring LaWanda Toney, Director, Strategic Communications for National PTA. Dial-in # (712) 775-7031 / Access Code: 276-129
This is the committee's last statewide conference call for the 2015-2016 school year. Be sure to call in.