Today's PTA: It really isn’t about cupcakes and fundraising

Sunday, January 30, 2011

PTA members from around the state will converge on Olympia on February 21 to share their legislative priorities with Senators and Representatives.

by Sherry S. Marlin

There is a general thought among people when they hear the acronym, “PTA,” Parents and Teachers Association, “That is the group that raises money and bakes lots of cupcakes.” PTA was founded over 100 years ago as an advocacy organization and is still working hard to ensure that our children and youth have a better life. We continue this process here in Washington State by getting involved in local and state issues that affect all kids. One way we do this is by determining which issues we will focus on for the school year.

Members of the Washington State PTA, from all parts of the state, meet to choose their top priorities. This all takes place at the WSPTA Legislative Assembly. Attending delegates prepare for this important event by surveying their members at local units and councils on what is important to them.

2010-2011 WSPTA Top Six Priority Issues and Supported Issues

The Washington State PTA, through its annual grassroots process, adopted this legislative platform for the 2011 session of the Washington State Legislature.

1. Following up on Education Reform Efforts (HB 2261, HB 2776, SB 6696): The Washington State PTA shall initiate or and/or support legislative or policies that advance implementation of and/or provide funding for the realization of the basic education reform bills passed in 2009 and 2010, which describe our state’s plan for developing and phasing in system improvements to meet the educational needs of students in the 21st century.

2. Math and Science Education: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that strengthen math and science education to include but not be limited to: improving teacher pre-service training and recruitment, developing an Elementary Mathematics Specialty endorsement, increasing teacher professional development and supporting implementation of math and science standards.

3. Literacy Instruction: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that support the state-wide adoption of early phonological awareness screening, and the state-wide implementation of research-based, direct, explicit, and systematic literacy instruction in every classroom.

4. Teacher Reduction in Force: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that expand school district teacher “reduction in force” policies to include factors other than seniority, such as teacher effectiveness and the cohesiveness of school teams.

5. Fund Education First: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that fund education first. In order to implement Article IX of our state constitution which says “It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders”, education funding would be considered first in any budget process undertaken in the state legislature.

6. New Model for Teacher Compensation: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that lead to a new research-based state teacher compensation model that emphasizes rewarding teacher effectiveness in improving student learning.

7. School Breakfast and Lunch Programs: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that improve the quality and nutritional content of school breakfast and lunch programs.

8. Physical Education and Health: The Washington State PTA shall initiate and/or support legislation or policies that strengthen physical education and health to include but not be limited to 1) designating physical education and health as a core subject in the state of Washington and 2) adding physical education and health to the list of core subjects in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act- formally known as No Child Left Behind.

The WSPTA is the largest grassroots child advocacy organization in Washington State.

One benefit of PTA membership is the ability to sign up for opportunities to stay connected to issues that affect not only your children, but others across the state.

For information on signing up, email the State PTA office

Grassroots Connection
The Grassroots Connection is a one-way electronic update sent weekly when the legislature is in session. It will provide you with timely, pertinent public policy information on issues affecting children and youth. (Less frequent emails will be sent when the legislature is not in session to keep you informed about opportunities for advocacy year round.)

Legislative Contact Team 
Sign up to be contacted during legislative session, and agree to make a personal phone call or visit to your Senator or Representative. You will be contacted personally and asked to request specific support on bills, public hearing of a bill or other types of Legislative activity.

Legislative Action Alerts
This is a one-way electronic communication alerting you to fast-breaking happenings in Olympia and requesting you to call, email, or write a letter to your legislators on a specific issue. The Action Alerts are generated by staff and sent out during legislative sessions. They are structured with background, requested action, and a brief message for you to use as a template.

Legislative Listserv
This is a two-way listserv used by members to discuss advocacy topics impacting children and youth that are relevant to the mission of the WSPTA.

Shoreline resident Sherry S. Marlin has been Washington State PTA Treasurer, Region 6 Director, Region 6 Legislative Chair, Shoreline PTA Council Co-President, Shoreline PTA Council VP for Legislation and many local unit positions.


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