Saturday, January 21, 2017

Is Your School Prepared for National Reading Month?

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

March is National Reading Month.
Celebrate with a Family Reading Experience!

In March 2017, thousands of schools will transform their National Reading Month event into a PTA Family Reading Experience – an interactive event that engages the whole family in reading activities.

Let Us Help You Plan an Unforgettable Family Reading Experience!
When families read together, they spark their imaginations, learn important lessons, start difficult conversations and make memories that last forever. National PTA and Kindle believe that family involvement is key to developing students who enjoy reading. That is why both groups are working together to engage families in reading through the PTA Family Reading Experience, a fun family literacy event hosted in schools nationwide.
Watch this slideshow and use the checklist below to help you plan your own event!
  • Choose a date and time that will allow the largest number of families to participate. Reserve an open space or a few classrooms for hosting reading stations. Coordinate with your school administrator to avoid conflicts with other activities.
  • Pick a theme, prepare reading station activities and print out take-home tips for parents. You can find options for these ready-made for you at
  • Recruit six reading leaders to facilitate station activities. Prepare each leader by sharing station instructions and reviewing your event schedule ahead of time. Be sure each station leader understands the importance of families participating in the activities with their children!
  • Invite your whole school community to attend! Send home an invitation using our templates at

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee held a confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos, an education advocate and philanthropist to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. Members from both sides of the aisle had the opportunity to ask Ms. DeVos questions about her positions and plans for the Department of Education (the Department) should she be nominated.

In a statement regarding the announcement of the confirmation hearing, Laura Bay, President of National PTA stated that “we respect the confirmation process and pending her confirmation, we stand ready to work with Ms. DeVos to ensure that the priorities of National PTA are included in the new administration’s education agenda.”

National PTA also joined with other leading organizations to express concerns regarding several previous education positions of Ms. DeVos in letters to the committee on Jan. 9 and 13, 2017.

During the hearing, many Democrats expressed concern about Ms. DeVos’ previous advocacy efforts on behalf of private school vouchers in addition to her lack of formal experience in the public education sector. Republicans, on the other hand, largely praised Ms. DeVos’ work and were encouraged by the potential opportunity of having a representative outside of the traditional public education sphere to bring different ideas to the Department.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chairman of the HELP Committee is expected to call for a vote on Ms. DeVos’ nomination on Tuesday, Jan. 24. The vote will likely fall along party lines with all Democrats voting against Ms. DeVos’ confirmation and all Republican Senators voting in favor. The vote will ironically coincide with National School Choice Week which now in its seventh year of advocating for education options. National PTA has a longstanding history of opposing any private school choice system—vouchers, tax credits or deductions—that would divert public school resources.

In addition to the diversion of public resources to private schools, National PTA will continue to oppose private school choice systems because many of these programs do not have the same civil rights, protections and services for all students — particularly those with special needs. Furthermore, recent studies confirm that school vouchers do not help students achieve better in school, and in fact, they can lead to lower academic achievement.

Learn more about private school vouchers and follow @NationalPTA on Twitter for federal education updates and advocacy efforts.

Lindsay Kubatzky is the Government Affairs Coordinator for National PTA.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Sandy Hook Promise Programs

Programs: Call to Action – Start With Hello Week, February 6 – 10!
Sandy Hook Promise’s Start With Hello Week is right around the corner. To date, over 1,250 schools and youth organizations across the country have signed up to bring Start With Hello to their classrooms or communities the week of February 6 – 10.
Together these schools and youth organizations will raise collective awareness and teach young people how to reduce social isolation, look out for one another and build more connected and inclusive classrooms, schools and communities.
Please take action by bringing Start With Hello Week to a school or youth organization in your community today. Click here for a sample message to send to schools and youth organizations in your community and a sample letter to newspaper editors.
Building Awareness: Your Hopes for 2017!
We want to hear from you. How do you plan to take action as a Promise Leader this year? What are your hopes for your community? What would you like to see decision-makers do this year to help prevent gun violence before it’s too late?
Please share your hopes with us by clicking here to take the survey.
Advocacy: Promise Leader Success Story!
Sarah is a young, bright and determined Promise Leader from New York. At 13 years old, Sarah is having her bat mitzvah this month, and as one of the ways that she will mark this important milestone, Sarah decided to lead a call to action to advance gun violence prevention policy with Sandy Hook Promise.
Sarah will set up a table at her bat mitzvah reception that allows her guests to learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and take personal action to support Sandy Hook Promise's policy agenda. She has preprinted postcards for her family and friends to sign and send a message to their statehouse in support of pending gun violence restraining order legislation. To raise awareness about gun violence at the national level, Sarah has provided template letters for her loved ones to write to the president-elect, the Senate and the House to urge progress and accountability on gun violence in this new year. She is also encouraging everyone to learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and bring our prevention programs to their communities.
We could not be more grateful to Sarah for her action and leadership. She is an inspiration to us all, and we congratulate her on her bat mitzvah this month!
Save the Date!
  • Promise Leader Conference Call:
    • Wednesday, January 11 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT/5 p.m. PT. Find out how you can bring Sandy Hook Promise programs – including Start With Hello Week – to a school or youth organization in your community. Click here to RSVP for tonight's call.

    • Wednesday, March 1 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT/6 p.m. MT/5 p.m. PT. Click here to RSVP. Our topic will be determined by the results of the Promise Leader survey – stay tuned!
Promise Leader Resources
For more information about how you can take action as a Promise Leader: