Saturday, August 19, 2017

Take the #STOPCutsToClassrooms Social Media Challenge

Take the #STOPCutsToClassrooms Social Media Challenge
StopCutsSocialChallengePic.jpg62% of voters believe the federal government spends too little on public education (it accounts for just 2% of the budget).
Do you agree? Join National PTA in telling Congress to #STOPCutsToClassrooms.
Sign our petition, print out our official sign and challenge your friends to do the same!
To get the full instructions, visit
PTA Our Children Magazine
10-Day Countdown to School Readiness
shutterstock_388630444.jpgDespite the best of intentions, reading and writing often take a back seat to other activities over the summer—speech-language pathologists working in schools often see a literacy lag as students return to the classroom. Don't panic! Instead, plan to use the 10 days before school starts to get your child up to speed. Read more
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National PTA's Parents' Guides to Student Success
Dad-cooking-while-mom-helps-son-with-homework.jpgWhether they are just starting elementary school or are getting ready to graduate high school, every parent wants their child to have the knowledge they need to be successful in the future. However, sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of everything your child needs to know. That's why National PTA created the Parents’ Guides to Student Success. Read more
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Anaphylaxis: How to Be Aware, Prepared and Ready to Respond
Doctor-Writing-Allergy.jpgAugust is always a stressful time for parents sending their kids back to school, especially for parents of children with severe allergies. Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening allergic reaction resulting from exposure to allergens. Whether your child has a severe allergy or not, it is up to all of us to make sure that we keep schools as safe as possible for all children. Read more.
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Go Back-to-School with USA TODAY
USATBTSMAG2017.jpg Get ready for the school year by checking out the USA TODAY Back to School Magazine.
Find everything from school supplies to creative snack ideas by visiting
What Makes a Good ESSA Report Card?
Did you know that there are four different kinds of report cards? It's true! Student, School, District and State Report Cards are required by ESSA, the new K-12 education law. 
Watch this recorded webinar to learn how these report cards equip parents to make better decisions concerning their children's educational opportunities and become more effective advocates. Watch now!
Become a Monthly Donor to National PTA!
PTAMonthlyDonor.jpgFor 120 years, National PTA has been a powerful voice and advocate for all children. Become a monthly donor and you can make a difference in the education, health and welfare of children across the country. For more info, visit
Sponsored Content
$1 Million Available from Tom's of Maine for Green Classroom Projects

TomsofMaine_BTS(1).jpg This back-to-school season, tell your school's teachers how they can help kids learn about and care for the planet through the Tom's of Maine Green Your School Fund.  
$1 million is available to public schools nationwide—teachers can learn more and submit a project at
HRB_206x150.pngThe Right Part-Time Job May Be Just Around the Corner
Flexible, part-time schedules. Family-like environment. Career growth and opportunities to earn additional income. Consider a career at H&R Block!
Learn more about the Income Tax Course and H&R Block at
National PTA Headquarters
1250 N. Pitt Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Phone: (703) 518-1200
Toll Free: (800) 307-4782
Fax: (703) 836-0942

Friday, August 18, 2017

Start the School Year Right With Healthy Habits

Source: PTA One Voice Blog
Posted: 15 Aug 2017 09:54 AM PDT

(Sponsored Post) Help Protect Your Children From Germs This Back-To-School Season
With school bells ringing and teachers diving into their lesson plans, help your children focus on what matters most during the school year – learning! As part of the Healthy Habits Program, Lysol alongside the National Parent Teacher Association hope to spread the word on healthy habits, starting with simple yet effective tips to help keep germs at bay and help prevent your children from getting sick, whether in the classroom or at home!
Set your children up for a successful and healthy school year with the following tips:
  • Kick-Off The Year and The Germs: Start the 2017 school year by stocking classrooms with disinfectant cleaning product. Using Lysol products, such as Lysol Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol Disinfectant Spray, kill bacteria and viruses on hard surfaces in your home and classroom. If you’re one of many parents who collect Box Tops for your children’s school, you’re in luck! Now all Lysol products are eligible for Box Tops for Education redemption, so you can continue to help earn cash for your school.
  • Get A Good Night Sleep: With homework, soccer practice and science projects filling up your children’s schedule, it’s important that they get an adequate amount of sleep each night. A good rule of thumb is 9 to 12 hours for children ages 6-12, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.[1]
  • Reinforce Healthy Habits: The third week of September marks Healthy Habits Week. Use this time as your reminder to start the school year off on a healthy note by teaching your children to use proper etiquette for sneezing and coughing to help keep sick days to a minimum! Make sure they’re frequently handwashing at home and at school too –use warm water and soap to create a nice lather – scrubbing for at least 20 seconds!
Visit for more information and tips to help keep your family healthy and always check with your school before bringing products to the classroom.

Rory Tait is the Marketing Director at Lysol. He drives the Lysol Healthy Habits campaign, a program focused on educating parents across the country on the importance of healthy habits and good hygiene practices.
Box Tops for Education and associated words and designs are trademarks of General Mills, used under license. ©General Mills
[1] “Are you getting enough sleep?” (April 24, 2017)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Helping America’s Children Understand What “Two Sides to a Story” Really Means

Helping America’s Children Understand What “Two Sides to a Story” Really Means 

By Kent Pekel, Ed.D., Search Institute President and CEO

At a press conference on Tuesday (8/15/17), the President of the United States said for the second time that “both sides” were to blame for the violent events that occurred at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. He argued that there were “two sides to a story” that ended in one woman’s death and injuries to many others.

As I listened to the President’s remarks, I thought back to the years I spent as a high school social studies teacher at the start of my career in education and youth development. When I entered South Boston High School for the first time as a student teacher, twenty-five years ago this fall, one of my stated objectives was to help young people understand that, to quote the President, “there are two sides to every story.” I tried to do that by helping my students at Southie (as that school is called in Boston and elsewhere) understand both sides of the battle that had made their school ground zero in the national war over school busing two decades earlier.

The following fall, when I started teaching global studies at a high school in Minnesota, I worked even harder to help my students understand both sides of the stories we studied. One of my favorite ways to do that was to ask students to role play people who had differing perspectives on what should be done at critical moments in history and current events. I created fairly elaborate scenarios within which students studied and pretended to be people who disagreed on issues of war and peace, race and culture, poverty and affluence, environmental protection and economic growth, and other big issues of the past and present. 

The role plays I created were effective ways to help students learn about and become interested in the subjects we were studying. As a new teacher, I thought that was a solid achievement because it got a wide range of students actively engaged in reading history and watching current events.

I also learned, however, that the classroom role plays I worked so hard to construct often devolved into shouting matches or ended in stalemates.

In some cases, those stalemates were appropriate because there were no clear or quick solutions to the problems we were trying to solve. In other cases, however, the stalemates were evidence that I had not adequately enabled my students to tell right from wrong.

That happened most memorably when my class was studying apartheid in South Africa. I asked students to participate in a role play that asked decision makers to decide if the South African government should free Nelson Mandela from jail. I will never forget how the group of students charged with arguing the position of the South African government became so convinced that Nelson Mandela should stay in jail that they seemed to forget that our role play was a historical one and Mandela had actually been freed four years earlier and had just become the president of the nation that had imprisoned him for decades (which was why I was teaching the role play in the first place).

Over time, I learned that the role plays I taught as a new teacher were creating false equivalence in situations where none existed. In an effort to deepen my students’ understanding of the complexity of the issues we were studying, I was unintentionally setting up situations in which students were reaching stalemates in what they saw as battles between right and right when they should have been presented with opportunities to choose between right and wrong.  

I tried to fix this design flaw in the role plays I taught in a number of ways, from asking each of the opposing sides to put themselves in the shoes of their opponents (i.e. to practice empathy) to creating a separate group of students who would serve as observers and final judges of the debates being role played. Those efforts mitigated but did not resolve the false equivalencies I was unintentionally teaching.

This discussion of false equivalencies brings me back, of course, to President Trump’s statements today and in recent days. The false equivalence he found between people who proactively planned a rally for racism in Charlottesville and people who showed up in that city to resist their subjugation and the subjugation of others is wrong first because it lets the people who incited and inflicted violence off the hook and suggests that the victims of that violence are to blame for the injustice they experienced.

The President’s assertion of equivalence in Charlottesville is also wrong because it suggests to young people that nothing is ever objectively right or wrong. It suggests that as long as some people embrace an idea, that idea is valid and must be respected. 

As someone who has studied and taught history, it is amazing to me that we are discussing and debating these questions in 2017. And yet, as someone who has studied and taught history, I should not be surprised about that at all.

History will repeat itself unless and until we choose to break from the path that history seems destined to repeat. The first and the best thing we can do to depart from that presumed path is to teach our children to understand all sides of a story while also recognizing that one side can be fundamentally (if not entirely) right and one side can be equally (if not entirely) wrong.

In recent days the President of the United States has deeply confused right and wrong, and I hope that every parent, educator, and youth worker who cares about kids will help them understand and move beyond the President’s false equivalence to develop the capacity to recognize right from wrong in the world in which they will live their lives.  

Monday, August 14, 2017

PTA Live Events!

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PTALiveSidebarSmall(1).jpgSave the Date: Two PTA Live! Events
Mark your calendars for two PTA Live! events on Facebook. Both events highlight the 2017-2018 National PTA Back-to-School Kit.
Join us THIS WEEK for an overview of the website, registration and a look at the Recruitment Tool and calendar that all registrants will receive in the mail. 
Join our Director of Education & Leadership Development, Mary Pat King, as she highlights brand new sections, content and explains why this year's kit is even easier to use than before.
Be sure to have your questions and comments ready for both PTA Live! events.  And don't forget to register for the 2017-2018 Back-to-School kit at