Friday, May 5, 2017

Free School Meals for All Children

Source: National PTA One Voice Blog
Sound too good to be true? It’s not! Alison Maurice from the Food Research Action Committee (FRAC) explains what the Community Eligibility Provision is, how to tell if your school is eligible, and how to advocate for CEP in your school.

How are schools able to offer meals to all of their students for free?
In the 2016–2017 school year, over 20,000 schools provided free school breakfast and lunch to nearly 10 million children in the United States through the Community Eligibility Provision. Community eligibility allows high-need schools and districts to offer meals at no cost to all students.

Community eligibility has only been available nationwide for three years. In that short time, nearly 55 percent of eligible schools have chosen to use community eligibility, because it increases the number of students benefiting from the school breakfast and lunch programs.

Why are schools so eager to participate in community eligibility?
Because it makes it easy to get meals to students! By offering meals to all students at no charge, community eligibility increases participation among all students which can help school nutrition finances.  Additionally, schools no longer need to qualify students for free or reduced-price school meals. This saves significant time and reduces paperwork for schools, so they can focus more resources on providing healthy meals for your children. Unpaid meal fees are no longer a concern with community eligibility, which decreases stress both on parents and school staff collecting them.

Community eligibility schools have increased participation in the school breakfast and lunch programs. More importantly, more students are eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, reducing hunger and improving nutrition status. School breakfast has shown to improve academic achievement, test scores, and behavior, and to reduce absenteeism and tardiness. Participating in school breakfast allows students to focus on learning, rather than their empty stomachs.

What makes a school or school district eligible?
A school, group of schools, or school district is eligible for community eligibility if at least 40 percent of the students are certified to receive free school meals. Schools identify students who qualify for free meals through other assistance program enrollment. No application is needed to be submitted by parents for schools to determine this.

What can I do to help my school?
On May 1, 2017, your state’s education agencies published a list of schools and school districts that qualify for community eligibility. It is easy to find out if your school or school district is eligible by using the Food Research & Action Center’s Community Eligibility Database. Here you can quickly search for schools by state and district and to determine if your school is eligible and participating or not.

If you find that a school or schools in your school district is eligible for community eligibility but is not using this program, start a conversation with your school administrators and nutrition department. Let them know that you would like them to consider community eligibility. The deadline to apply to use community eligibility in the 2017–2018 school year is June 30, 2017.

Last, but not least, pass these resources along to your school administrators or nutrition department to educate others about the benefits of community eligibility even further:
With these resources, you can help increase access to school meals for all students, giving them much-needed nutrition to succeed.

This blog was prepared by Alison Maurice, Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, at the Food Research & Action Center. For more information, feel free to email Alison at

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A Big Congratulations to our National PTA Reflections winners from OHIO!

Film Award of Excellence - Tyler Rice The Daily Struggle Kimpton Middle School
Film Award of Merit - Lila Culp Dogs Only Evening Street PTA

Literature Award of Merit -Sanchita Chardan New Story Revere Middle School
Literature Award of Merit - Marina Beigi Reunited Westerly Elementary

Photography Award of Excellence - Samantha Lee Reading Stories Phoenix Middle School

Visual Arts Outstanding Interpretation - Kassandra Burger The Story of My Life Mentor High School
Visual Arts Award of Excellence -Josh Luboski My Story Shore Middle School
Outstanding Interpretation Awards: 
  • An expense-paid trip for student honoree and one adult to showcase work at the National PTA Awards and Reflections Celebration
  • $800 Young Artist Scholarship
  • Gold medal and certificate
  • Recognition in the traveling art exhibit and online gallery
  • $200 Outstanding Local PTA Award
Awards of Excellence: 
  • $200 Young Artist Scholarship
  • Silver medal and certificate
  • Recognition in the traveling art exhibit and online gallery
Awards of Merit: 
  • Bronze medal and certificate
  • Recognition in the traveling art exhibit and online gallery

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

In his first public appearance since leaving office, President Barack Obama said, "The PTA is a perfect example of the kind of thing we want to encourage" when discussing ways to be engaged in communities.

Overall Education Funding Decreases in New Federal Budget
shutterstock_544847110.jpgThis week Congress reached a deal to fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. Final passage of the funding bill is not expected until later in the week and if it passes as written, here's how the following education programs would be funded compared to fiscal year 2016:
  • U.S. Department of Education would be cut by $1 billion
  • Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) would not be funded
  • Funding for services for low-income and poor students (Title I) would receive a $100 million increase
  • Funding for services for students with disabilities (IDEA, Part B state grants) would receive a $90 million increase
  • Funding for well-rounded education, healthy and safe schools and education technology (Title IV, Part A block grants) would be funded at $400 million
Although National PTA is encouraged by some of the increases for education programs in the bill, we have strong concerns about the decrease in overall federal funding for education and no funding for SFECs. If you have not already, Take Action today and tell your members of Congress to invest in public education and family engagement programs in fiscal year 2018.
For more info on the federal funding bill, read the fiscal year 2017 appropriations bill and explanatory statement of the funding.
National PTA Advocate of the Month
JanelleSperryHeadshot.jpgJanelle Sperry, West Virginia PTA president, participated in a Senate Briefing on Capitol Hill April 28 to discuss the importance of the federal E-rate program. The E-rate program works to ensure all public libraries and K-12 public and private schools gain access to broadband connectivity and robust internal Wi-Fi.
During the briefing, Sperry declared that a student's geographic location shouldn't determine their internet access and academic opportunities, as every child deserves access to the internet to reach their full potential.
The briefing was hosted by the Education and Libraries Network Coalition (EdLiNC) and theNational Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET).
President Obama Encourages Joining PTA During First Speech Since Leaving Office
PresidentObama.jpgIn his first public appearance since leaving office, President Barack Obama said, "The PTA is a perfect example of the kind of thing we want to encourage" when discussing ways to be engaged in communities.
Joined on the stage at the University of Chicago by a diverse group of six former and current students from across the city, the former president discussed the importance of civic engagement and cultivating the next generation of leaders.
Watch the recording of the event on YouTube.
National PTA Endorses Five Bills in the 115th Congress: 
Recently, National PTA pledged support for five bills recently introduced in the 115th Congress. Each bill would work to improve the health, safety and overall well-being of children and aligns with the National PTA Legislative Checklist for the 115th Congress. Click the links below to read the text of each piece of legislation.
PTALive(1).jpgPTA Live! E-learning and National PTA's Strategic Plan
Watch this recording of our PTA Live on our Facebook page. National PTA's Director of Education and Leadership Development, Mary Pat King, discusses National PTA's expanded focus on leadership development in the Strategic Plan and how our new e-learning courses can help you during leadership transitions. 
Have an idea for a new e-learning course, or a question about e-learning in general? Leave a comment on the video
Webinar: Overview of Proposed Resolutions and Process at Convention
Webinar.jpgJoin National PTA's Resolutions Committee at 8 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, May 17, for a review of the 2017 proposed resolutions and the resolutions process at the upcomingNational PTA Convention & Expo in Las Vegas, June 22-25.
National PTA Joins 11 Other Child Welfare Groups to Call Out State Bills Attacking Trans Youth
HRCLogo.jpgLast month, National PTA joined 11 other child welfare organizations to call out state bills that would discriminate against transgender children.
"We, as organizations committed to serving the best interests of all youth, are deeply alarmed at the flurry of bills introduced in state legislatures around the country this year that would directly harm transgender people, and particularly transgender students," the letter states. "These appalling proposals would compromise the safety and well-being of the young people we all have the duty and obligation to support and protect."
Read the full letter.
Advocate for College and Career-Readiness!
The College and Career Readiness & Success Center's website provides a vast array of information and resources state PTAs can use to help advocate in their states.
It includes an interactive map and an interactive graphic intended to be a comprehensive and visual representation of the complexities of college and career readiness and success. Check out the website and these great resources!
Research Corner: Teacher Training Can Help Promote Parent Involvement
New research by Keith C. Herman and Wendy M. Reinke of the University of Missouri shows that teacher perceptions of parent involvement can be altered through training teachers on how to engage families more effectively.
The results indicate that if teachers are provided training that encourages them to examine their assumptions and biases about parents and to develop and/or repair relationships with challenging students and families, then their perceptions of parental contact and comfort with those parents change.
In a press statement, Herman stated "fortunately, this study shows that we can support teachers to improve their relationships with all parents, resulting in a better education for all children while also encouraging parents to become more involved in the education process." Read the full study.

Monday, May 1, 2017

National PTA Applauds 2017 National Teacher of the Year Sydney Chaffee

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (May 1, 2017)—National PTA congratulates Sydney Chaffee on her recognition as the 2017 National Teacher of the Year. Chaffee is a high school humanities teacher at Codman Academy public charter school in Boston. Chaffee has taught for 10 years and encourages her students to take risks, stand up for themselves and create change.

“Teachers like Sydney are the reason why so many children across the country have opportunities to turn their dreams into reality,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA congratulates Sydney on being named the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, and we applaud all of the 2017 State Teachers of the Year for making a lasting impact in their profession and in the lives and futures of our nation’s children.”

In the classroom, Chaffee strives to create lessons that demonstrate how education can be a transformative tool for social justice, and she encourages her students to see themselves as having the power to make change in the world today based on lessons from the past. As the 2017 National Teacher of the Year, Chaffee is looking forward to advocating for all teachers to take risks—on behalf of their students, each other and themselves—to create powerful, authentic learning that will allow students to grow and succeed. She is also committed to giving a voice to the issues that affect her students.

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. Each year, the National Teacher of the Year addresses attendees during National PTA’s Annual Convention & Expo.

National PTA also designates the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week to give thanks and give back to educators across the country who deliver so much to students every day.

“Teachers make a profound difference in the well-being and long-term success of children,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of National PTA. “We encourage everyone to join us in celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week and thanking teachers 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