Friday, April 7, 2017

Stakeholder Engagement: Early Challenges and Promising Practices

Source: PTA One Voice Blog

This post was originally published on the blog for the Learning First Alliance.

With the transition to a new presidential administration, change abounds in the federal education policy world. As we await action from a new Secretary of Education, we’ve also seen President Trump issue an executive order pausing the accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), followed by a move by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to overturn them. Those rules, finalized last November by the Obama administration, were intended to guide states in submitting their accountability plans to the federal government.

Despite the uncertainty that states are facing, work on these plans continues. And a key part of that work comes in the form of stakeholder engagement.

The stakeholder consultative process outlined in ESSA (and unimpacted by the president’s executive order) presents an important opportunity to fundamentally change how education policy is made. If implemented as intended, it will ensure that the expertise of the parents, educators and other leaders working with, and on behalf of, students every day informs the development of state and local policies and practices. In support of this process, we at the Learning First Alliance issued guiding principles to help states and districts as they began this important work.

But it is not easy. This level of stakeholder engagement is an entirely new way of doing business for most policymakers, particularly at the state level. And expecting all states and districts to get it right immediately is unrealistic. As with all new programs and policies, there will be a learning curve. What’s critical is that we—the collective “we,” including those in the education community that this process engages, the state and local policymakers charged with implementing it and the federal policymakers who legislated it—work through the challenges that come along. To avoid going back to business as usual, we need to commit to continuously improving in this endeavor.

The National Association of State Boards of Education recently released a policy update to help in these efforts. Drawn from reviews of 51 state education agency (SEA) websites and in-depth interviews with representatives from 15 SEAs, ESSA Stakeholder Engagement: Early Challenges and Promising Practices identifies five common challenges that states are facing in this work:
  • Identifying diverse stakeholders and casting a wider net
  • Overcoming time and resource constraints
  • Communicating effectively with stakeholders
  • Maximizing meetings’ impact
  • Organizing and incorporating feedback into a state plan

One especially interesting finding: Parents are cited as a particularly difficult group to engage. Noting that SEAs have much more experience reaching out to teachers and administrators, the authors acknowledge that parent and family engagement is new to many state officials.

So how should SEAs and local education agencies (LEAs, which are typically school districts), when they begin this work, address this concern? The brief offers a few promising practices related to the overall challenge of identifying diverse stakeholders and casting a wider net, including utilizing existing networks to expand the pool and allowing for a dynamic process so new stakeholders can be engaged even after the process as begun.

Speaking specifically regarding parents, Laura Bay, president of National PTA, notes that there are multiple aspects of conducting effective parental stakeholder engagement—such as transparency, inclusion, information sharing and multiple opportunities for input—and achieving perfection in all areas is challenging for any one state.

To help overcome it, Bay encourages SEAs and LEAs to partner with their state and local PTAs.

“PTAs want to be a part of the solution. PTAs are a trusted messenger and a valuable resource to be able to reach all families, encourage families to get involved and provide input and ensure all parent voices are heard,” Bay said.

National PTA has identified the following best practices for engaging parents in ESSA:
  • Ensure there is at least one dedicated parent representative on any ESSA state- or local-level committee
  • Partner with PTA to:
    • Disseminate information on ESSA and any meetings, forums or webinars
    • Co-host ESSA-related forums
    • Leverage parent and community leaders to gather input from other parents and families in the community
  • Show how parent input has been considered and/or incorporated in state plans and policies
  • Ask for specific input and feedback on topics and in parent-friendly language
  • Build in structures and opportunities for ongoing engagement and feedback
The association has also created a wide variety of resources accessible at to support states, districts and schools in engaging families in ESSA.

Monday, April 3, 2017

National PTA Announces the #ThankATeacher Contest to Celebrate Educators Nationwide

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (April 3, 2017)National PTA today announced the #ThankATeacher Contest, in which over $20,000 in prizes will be awarded to teachers across the country during Teacher Appreciation Week. The contest is now open and all schools and PTAs are encouraged to participate.

“Teachers deliver so much to our students every day, and their work and impact extends far beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “Teacher Appreciation Week is the one week of the school year when teachers take center stage and are recognized for their impact on the lives and futures of students. We are thrilled to deliver our gratitude to teachers in a big way through the #ThankATeacher Contest.”  

The #ThankATeacher Contest encourages PTAs to share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram examples of how teachers deliver for the students in their school using #ThankATeacher. Two grand prize winners will be selected to each receive a Google Express shopping spree worth up to $4,500 to help spruce up their school’s teachers’ lounges. Four first place winners will receive either a snack or wellness delivery worth up to $2,500 each to help stock up their teachers’ break rooms. All winners, including 25 runner up winners, will receive a Google Home for their school.

“We are proud to partner with National PTA in celebrating and honoring our educators during Teacher Appreciation Week,” says Brian Elliott, general manager of Google Express. “Teachers play a pivotal role in shaping the future of our children, and we’re delighted to support them as a way of giving thanks.” Google Express is a shopping service that connects shoppers with big brand retailers for fast, convenient delivery of household items, groceries, school supplies and more.

Three PTAs will also be awarded a special visit to their school from an author or “I Can Read” costumed book character as well as an “I Can Read” book set from Harper Collins. Ten additional PTAs also will receive an “I Can Read” book set for their school. The contest runs through April 17, 2017, and the winners will be announced during Teacher Appreciation Week.

“Teachers make a profound difference in the well-being and long-term success of children. It is vital that they have our support, and that we give back to them,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of National PTA. “We are grateful to our sponsors Google Express and Harper Collins for helping us support and give back to teachers. We encourage everyone to join us in celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week and thanking the teachers in their lives.”

National PTA has also created a Teacher Appreciation Week toolkit for schools, PTAs and families, which features:

National PTA has celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week since 1984. For more information about Teacher Appreciation Week and the #ThankATeacher Contest, visit

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Federal Funding for Education Programs At Risk in Fiscal Year 2018

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

Education advocates work hard to increase funding for federal education programs to ensure all children receive a quality education. During tough political climates and hard economic times, these education advocates have always been able to at least maintain the current level of funding for education programs at 2% of the federal budget.

However, much of our progress to increase investments in education—or at a minimum maintain current levels of funding for education—have been put at-risk due to the release of President Trump’s “skinny budget” or “blueprint” for funding priorities in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. President Trump’s proposal would cut funding for public education programs by $9.2 billion.

From the information that is available in the skinny budget, National PTA has concerns about the following proposals:
  • An overall $9.2 billion cut to program under the U.S. Department of Education (13% cut)
  • New $250 million investment to expand private school choice options
  • Eliminate the 21st Century Community Learning Centers—also known as afterschool programs
  • Eliminate Title II state grants to support effective instruction for teachers, principals and other school leaders
  • Eliminate or reduce over 20 programs at the U.S. Department of Education (the full list of programs is not available)
National PTA hopes President Trump’s full budget request (to be released in May) will propose funding for Statewide Family Engagement Centers, Title I, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act state grants, Parent Training and Information Centers and Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants.

It’s important to note that the President’s budget request is simply that—a “request” outlining the President’s funding priorities. It is Congress that determines how much funding each federal agency and program will receive each year.

Members of Congress take the President’s budget request into consideration when they are making funding decisions, but constituent requests for certain programs to receive funding almost always take precedent in appropriations bills.

Here are two steps for PTA advocates to take to ensure that Congress adequately invests in public education programs:
  1. Take Action and send a letter to your members of Congress requesting for them to invest in public education and Statewide Family Engagement Centers.
  1. Sign up for National PTA’s Takes Action Newsletter and get the latest information on PTA’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and ways you can get involved.
While National PTA is disappointed that the budget proposal cuts vital funding for public education overall, the association is pleased to see the president maintain funding of $13 billion for special education grants through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

President Trump’s blue print proposes to designate an additional $1 billion for Title I—which aids schools with high percentages of children from low-income families. However, it is still unclear as to how the proposed increase in Title I funding would be used as the skinny budget mentions that the increase in Title I funding would be used to encourage Title I portability, which National PTA would not support.

As PTA advocates, we encourage you and all parents and families to call, meet and email your member of Congress and request them to support robust investments in public education and Statewide Family Engagement Centers and oppose funding for any private school choice or voucher system that would divert funding from public schools.

Joshua Westfall is the Government Affairs Manager at National PTA.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ohio PTA Bylaws (Proposed Amendments -during OH PTA Convention)

Amendment #1 – Article IV: Constituent Organization, strike “Organization” and insert with “Association” to read:
                “Article IV: Constituent Association”

                Rationale: To align with National PTA’s bylaws

Amendment #2 – Article IV: Constituent Organization, section 1, strike “shall adopt such bylaws and other articles of organization as are in conformity with the bylaws of the National PTA” and insert “bylaws and other articles of organization shall not be in conflict with National PTA bylaws or Ohio non-profit corporate laws” to read:
                “The Ohio PTA is a constituent organization of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (National PTA). The Ohio PTA bylaws and other articles of organization shall not be in conflict with National PTA bylaws or Ohio non-profit corporate laws and shall comply with the National PTA Standards of Affiliation”

                Rationale: To align with National PTA’s bylaws

Amendment #3 –  Article VII: Nominations and Elections, section 4c, strike in its entirety and insert “Each candidate to be an officer shall have served at least 2 years as a member of the Board of Directors prior to taking office, except the President-elect, who shall have served at least 4 years on the Board of Directors prior to taking office. Proviso: Effective July 1, 2017”

                Rationale: To ensure that Ohio PTA Officers have adequate exposure to Ohio PTA best practices

Amendment #4 - Article XVII: Ohio PTA Memorial Scholarship Award Section 2a, strike in its entirety and insert “Ohio PTA General Scholarship: The recipient of the scholarship must be a student graduating from a public PTA/PTSA high school, from a school district with at least 2 PTA/PTSAs, or from a school district with a Community PTA/PTSA. These qualifying units must be in good standing with Ohio PTA.”

            Rationale: Ohio PTA scholarships should be awarded to students attending a high school within a district which continues to support the purposes of PTA. Additionally, all other Ohio PTA programs, for example Reflections, require units to be in good standing in order to participate. This amendment aligns to all other Ohio PTA program requirements.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Thank A Teacher

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Plan Now for Teacher Appreciation Week! 
National PTA's Teacher Appreciation week is May 8-12, 2017. We can't wait to celebrate our incredible teachers, who deliver their best to our children every day.
Teacher Appreciation Week is the perfect time to personally thank your child's teachers for making a positive impact on their education and lives. 
To help you #ThankATeacher, we've put together a few fun resources, available at There, you'll find: 
As we honor teachers during May 8-12, we encourage you to reach out to a former teacher in your life to say "Thanks!" Use #ThankATeacher to tell them what you've accomplished because of their influence. 
Teachers deliver so much to our students—Inspiration, Motivation, Knowledge and more. Sometimes a simple thanks is all a teacher needs to feel valued.
Share our Teacher Appreciation Week resources with your fellow PTA members and families.
Let's make our teachers feel extra special this Teacher Appreciation Week! Visit

Friday, March 24, 2017

IMPORTANT Convention Information

Ohio Partnership PTA Bylaws (Amendments)

Amendment #1 – Article V – Membership and Dues, section 4, strike “The News” and insert “The Voice” to read: “Additional membership options include annual dues of $15.00 which include a year subscription to the Ohio PTA The Voice”

Rationale: To reflect the current title of the Ohio PTA newsletter

Amendment #2 – Insert in entirety Article XIV – Electronic Technology/Procedure Integrity to read as follows:

Section 1. The Ohio Partnership PTA may place policy procedures, such as the Ohio PTA Bylaws, Ohio Partnership PTA bylaws and standing rules on password protected areas of the Ohio Partnership PTA website.

Section 2. The Ohio Partnership PTA will make every effort to ensure the website information is free from outside tampering so as to protect the integrity of the information and will alert users when breaches of security are identified.

Section 3. Use of the National PTA and Ohio PTA trade name and seal on a website is prohibited without written permission from the Ohio PTA.

Section 4. The Ohio Partnership PTA will make every effort to ensure web pages are accurate but assume no liability for errors or omissions.

Rationale: To align with Ohio PTA Bylaws standards
Note: The above-proposed changes are on the home page of the website

Proposed Ohio PTA Board of Directors 2017-2019 Slate 

President-Elect Ana ChapmanD 12 
VP Leadership Jackie Arendt D 12 
VP Field Service Lisa Weaver D 13 
Secretary/Treasurer Cindy Schanz D 13 

Director of Advocacy Debbie Tidwell D 11 
Director of Bylaws Linda Read D 13 
Director of Communications Venezuela Robinson D 11 
Director of Diversity & Inclusion Nicole Lesnick D 12 
Director of Education Katie Holcomb D 10 
Director of Events Maria Lang D 12 
Director of Family-School Partnership  
Director of Health, Welfare, & Safety 
Director of Membership Angela Revay D 12 

District 3 Lois Monroe 
District 6 Rebecka Adams 
District 7 Dana Paul 
District 10 
District 11 Carol Beasley 
District 12 Lisa Catalano 
District 13 Rebecca Gawsyszawski 
District 18 Shannon Webber


Nominations can be made from the floor at the Ohio PTA Convention. 
A copy of the qualifications of any nominee from the floor must be presented to the president, secretary, and nominating chair thirty (30) days prior to the convention.
Each of the nominees for that office shall have three minutes to address the delegates.
Nominees may furnish sufficient copies of their qualifications, not to exceed one sheet of 8 1/2’ x 11” paper printed on both sides, with no PTA letterhead, for distribution to the convention delegates. Distribution will be at the conclusion of General Meeting I.
No additional campaign materials will be permitted. 
BOGO deadline for convention is April 1st

Come Home to your Ohio PTA Homecoming Convention!   
111th Ohio PTA Convention 
April 28-30, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Legacy Room at National PTA Headquarters

Dear State Leaders,
LegacyRoomDoor.jpgIt gives me great pleasure to announce that we are opening the doors to the brand-new Legacy Room at our headquarters in Alexandria, Va., tonight. We will celebrate the opening with a private viewing and ribbon-cutting ceremony for our board members. 
The opening ceremony this evening marks the culmination of an idea that began many years ago. As you may know, a capital campaign, "Our Home, Our Legacy, Our Future," was enacted from 2011 to 2013 to raise funds to establish a new, permanent home for our incredible history.
The proceeds from that campaign were earmarked to establish a living legacy that memorializes our past and preserves important historic items. Volunteers and staff have been working to create an inventory of artifacts and documents, as well as archive them for future access.
A design plan was created during the campaign for a room to introduce visitors to our history, but it was set aside in 2015 while the association made some decisions about our property in the metro Washington, DC area and whether to refinance the building or pursue other options. I am happy to say we decided to stay in our current location, and construction on the Legacy Room began early this year. 
Now complete, the Legacy Room is a modern and multi-use space that blends seamlessly into the existing building. It features a dynamic wall timeline, which includes our historic milestones, beginning with the founding of our association in 1897. The room also features unique memorabilia and PTA artifacts from all over the country.
LegacyRoomMediaWall.jpgThe Legacy Room will be used as a meeting area, which showcases our rich history and allows us to reflect as we explore our future with partners, sponsors and PTA leaders. We are very proud of the board for their financial commitment and oversight throughout this process, our officers for their recommendations and feedback, and our staff for their execution to make this space a reality.
National PTA remains committed to preserving and sharing our history with our present and future members and partners in education and child welfare. We are indebted to volunteer leaders—past and present—who saw the need for creating a home for our artifacts, and took the initiative to raise and designate funds to support this project. We trust this work will anchor our future in a permanent, physical appreciation of our history.
Look out for images of the ribbon-cutting ceremony on social media in the coming weeks. We hope you will have the opportunity to visit this beautiful space. 
Best wishes,
Laura Bay,
National PTA President

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Leader in You

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

Did you know that PTAs are run by volunteers? From the local level to the National PTA board of directors, volunteers govern our PTA association. Have you ever wondered how you can get more involved in child advocacy or education-related work?

It starts by raising your hand and getting involved. That’s what I’ve done, and it’s taken me from my local unit all the way up to the national level. At each level, my skills and knowledge in PTA, nonprofit governance and leadership grew. Here’s my story:

I first became interested in PTA when my daughter entered kindergarten. Even though I was a Girl Scout leader and served on the board of directors for the preschool, I had never attended a PTA meeting in those first two years. However, at the end of the second year, I noticed that the PTA had a vacancy in the office of president. I figured that it was a great opportunity for me to grow my communication and people skills and serve others, especially children and families.

I was elected and decided to attend my state PTA’s summer leadership conference to learn more about PTA, as well as my duties and responsibilities. This became a defining moment in my PTA journey—I was in awe! More than 700 individuals were in attendance at the conference, all focused on a mission to better the lives of students and their families. I was able to network with other like-minded volunteers and learn from state leaders about the structure and history of PTA. I knew then that I wanted to be part of this movement where parents, families, and educators work together to advocate for children and youth.

After two years as a local leader, I moved up to the council level, where I first served as the vice president and then president. It was at this time that I experienced how effective and important PTA’s advocacy efforts were in my county and throughout the state. While attending our elementary school PTA meeting, I learned that the school’s playground needed to be replaced. Our council worked tirelessly to present testimony to show the school board all the elementary school playground equipment and the disparities between the schools. Based on our efforts, the school board decided that the county would take on the expense of the playgrounds.

My leadership journey continued as I served as the first vice-president and then president of Maryland PTA. There was a great deal to learn in running a nonprofit business with staff while managing local units and fulfilling the PTA mission. Working with staff was a new experience for me, with oversight and direction as well as hiring and firing. Part of the work also involved working with local units to talk about the PTA programs and learn about nonprofit governance. All of these experiences added to my skill set and cemented my passion for child advocacy.

It was while volunteering with Maryland PTA that I learned about National PTA’s advocacy efforts, nonprofit laws and business management. I remember attending my first Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, where I learned about the important issues and met our state legislators when we went to PTA day on the Hill. To this day, I am excited to attend the conference and am proud to participate in advocating on behalf of our members to the legislators. I believe this is an important part of our mission.

Two years after my term as president of Maryland PTA ended, I was elected to the National PTA board of directors, which I served on from 2009 to 2011. During that time, I gained a greater awareness of the diversity we have in our education system and how rural states operate.

I believe in PTA so much, that I am now on staff as a national service representative where I’ve been on staff for over three years.

My volunteer PTA leadership journey has offered many experiences and opportunities to learn and grow, both personally and professionally. Throughout the years, I’ve made many lifelong friends and gone on adventures that I would have never dreamed possible. I have been involved in important advocacy work for the children, families, and educators fulfilling the mission of PTA. I treasure the work I’ve done and what I’ve learned along my journey. I hope you take the opportunity to raise your hand and start your own.

Mary Jo Neil is a National Service Representative at National PTA.

Friday, February 10, 2017

National PTA Bylaws / Amendments


A Message from the National PTA Bylaws and Policy Committee
PTA delegates adopted revised bylaws for National PTA at the 2016 Convention & Expo. This revision updated National PTA's governing document to better serve the association.
This summer, the National PTA Bylaws and Policy Committee will propose several amendments to the bylaws at the 2017 National PTA Convention & Expo, which include:
  • The addition of a new Article IX: Executive Committee;
  • Provisions for a vacancy in one or more of the officer positions;
  • Inclusion of the Elections Committee as a Standing Committee of the National PTA;
  • Amendments to Article X: National Constituent Association Advisory Council (NCAAC)
    • Section 2. Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary with defined duties and
    • Section 4. Meetings with a process for scheduling regular and additional meetings;
  • The addition of a new Article IV: Constituent Associations, Section 7. Dissolution
  • Provisions for anyone wishing to support the National PTA mission, purposes and principals with a mechanism to do so as a supporting member
For those wishing to learn more about the proposed amendments to the National PTA Bylaws, the National PTA Bylaws and Policy Committee will host a webinar Thursday, Feb. 23 at 8 p.m. EST. The Committee will review each amendment and its rationale for those attending the webinar.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Suicide Prevention Foundation

The Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation (OSPF) is excited to offer free, online, self-paced suicide prevention trainings for Elementary, Middle, & High School personnel. Watch our upcoming webinar to learn how you can champion the trainings in your schools!
OSPF is offering Kognito gatekeeper trainings for Ohio School teachers, staff, and administrators. These trainings educate school personnel on how to recognize and help students who are in distress through online simulations and conversations.
Kognito trainings offered:
-        At-Risk for High School
-        At Risk for Middle School
-        At-Risk for Elementary School
-        Step-In, Speak Up
All trainings use online avatars to equip school personnel with lessons on recognizing warning signs of distress in students, initiating and holding helpful conversations, identifying when further help for students is needed, and referring youth to appropriate services.
For more information on the trainings visit:
For those interested in promoting these trainings in their schools, a webinar will be hosted on February 9th at 12:00pm.
To register for the webinar follow this link:

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ohio's DRAFT ESSA Plan

The Ohio Department of Education is proud to release the draft state plan and the technical submission of Ohio’s Every Student Succeeds Act state plan with appendicesThere is still time for you to weigh in. You are invited to review and provide comment on the draft state plan and technical submission through March 6. The Department will continue to incorporate input throughout the development of the final Ohio plan.

Ohio’s plan takes a detailed look at the state’s education system and makes important improvements based on the feedback of our stakeholders and requirements in the law.

National PTA Statement on Betsy DeVos’ Confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 7, 2017)—The following statement can be attributed to National PTA President Laura Bay:
“Today, Betsy DeVos was confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Education. Throughout the confirmation process, National PTA joined other education, civil rights, disabilities and community organizations in expressing strong concerns for Secretary DeVos’ lack of experience with public education; unfamiliarity with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s public school students, families and educators; and support of programs that divert critical public school resources.
“National PTA looks forward to informing Secretary DeVos on all of our public policy priorities, including equitable public education for all, healthy and safe schools, protections for our nation’s most vulnerable youth and the importance of family engagement in education. Where we are in alignment, we stand ready to work together, however, policies of the administration that attempt to weaken public education will continue to meet National PTA’s opposition.
“National PTA has long stood and advocated for high-quality public education to ensure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Our association remains steadfast in our belief that public education must be strengthened with the support of adequate funding and continue to be governed by public officials. We oppose any private school choice system—vouchers, tax credits or deductions—that would divert public school resources.
“In addition to investing in public education, National PTA urges Secretary DeVos to improve the Department of Education’s role in advancing family engagement as a tool to increase student achievement and transform schools and communities. We strongly encourage the administration to carefully consider how family engagement can be integrated into all appropriate policy initiatives that it advances or supports. In particular, we urge the administration to fund the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) program and for the Department to utilize the appropriate resources to assist in the dissemination of research and best practices to support family engagement in local communities.
“Furthermore, National PTA hopes that Secretary DeVos will ensure continued implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). We also hope she will continue to prioritize stakeholder engagement in the implementation of the law. It is essential that parents and other stakeholders have a seat at the table as states and districts develop new education plans to provide valuable input and hold them accountable.
“National PTA is committed to working collaboratively with Secretary DeVos and the Department of Education to implement these recommendations and advance policies that ensure all children reach their highest potential. Critical progress has been made to improve education, provide educational equity for all children and make sure every child is prepared for long-term success. We cannot go backward.”
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