Sunday, July 31, 2016

National PTA Survey

The National PTA is currently conducting a survey of members.  It asks a few early questions about how members use PTA and then asks about what members know about "advocacy" work.
They then ask about interest in webinars on
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  • National PTA's Advocacy Toolkit
  • Common Core standards
  • Special Education Toolkit
They aren't asking members for their input on these issues but rather, do members want to hear what PTA thinks.

Then they ask about the "2016 Election" and various activities.

It's curious because they ask if members are interested in hosting a voter registration event "if your PTA was provided a guide/planning tool on how to do it."  I find that interesting because I honestly have not heard of many/any Seattle PTAs doing this.

Then they get to "National PTA Legislation Committee Focus."  They list:
  • mental health care access and early intervention 
  • lead in school water systems/playgrounds
  • climate change
  • pre-K teacher credentials
  • pre-K teacher pay scale
  • pre-K funding
  • kindergarten funding
  • recess
  • virtual charter schools
  • gun safety and violence prevention
Why so many pre-K issues?  I'm baffled on that one.  And virtual charter schools?  Why not all charter schools?

I'll note that this page at their website, 2016 National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda does not have the same list.  It lists:
  • Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Special Education
  • Federal Investments in Education
  • Early Learning and Childhood Education
  • Child Health and Safety
  • Gun Safety and Violence Prevention
  • Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
  • Education Technology and Student Data Privacy
  • Postsecondary Access and Opportunity
 I'll have to call them this week and ask about the difference between what the website says versus their survey.  I should also ask them why most of their briefs on these issues are from 2011 or later (the one on Special Education is from 2009.)

They then have a "other issues not listed" in the survey.  You mean like:

- class size
- data privacy
- testing
- overall school funding
- personalized learning
- charter schools

PTA supports charter schools (with lots of oversight but yes, they support them.)  I'm still unclear whether there are PTAs in very many charter schools. 

I did learn something I had not been aware of:
On March 02, 2015 the Family Engagement in Education Act of 2015 (S. 622/H.R. 1194) was introduced by U.S. Senators Jack Reed (D-RI), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Representatives Glenn Thompson (R-PA) and Mark Desaulnier (D-CA). Read a summary of this important legislation that is intended to strengthen families' engagement in their education of their children.
Interestingly, there seems to be a mighty push for religion freedom in PTA.  They passed a resolution in support of PTAs exercising their right to "free exercise of religion." (partial)
PTAs may continue their own inspirational exercises within their own meetings.  Whether or not they meet in school buildings, PTAs are voluntary and private associations, and determine for themselves the observances that will meet their needs.
Recognizing the diversity of beliefs and religious denominations among our nation's families, the responsibility for these matters must rest with the home and family.  PTA members should accept the responsibility for the moral and spiritual education of their children and youth, noting that the spiritual strength and moral growth sought for our young people may be achieved through careful precept and example as well as through religious exercises.
In yet another resolution on  the Role of Religion in Publicly Funded Educational and Social Services (partial):
National PTA supports instruction about religion, in the context of literature, philosophy, and history as well as in the comparative study of religions. National PTA believes that public schools shall not, however, engage in religious instruction, whether it is instruction in specific religious practices, or imposing religious values in curriculum. National PTA opposes programs, whether they are taught by public school employees or third parties engaged by the schools, that include religious worship, instruction, or indoctrination. The responsibility for a child’s religious upbringing rests exclusively in the home and with the religious instructors designated by the family.

National PTA supports the right of children to pray individually or in groups, to read religious texts, and to discuss their religious views with their peers, so long as they are not disruptive. National PTA believes the right to engage in voluntary worship or religious study or conversation, however, does not include the right to have a captive audience or to compel other students to participate. National PTA opposes mandatory or organized prayer or religious worship at official public school functions, whether led by a school official or student.

National PTA supports policies that foster parent involvement including decision- making, however, no one parent should be allowed to determine the curriculum or services that shall be available to children other than his or her own. If a parent determines that particular lessons substantially contradict his or her values or beliefs, and there is no compelling interest in requiring attendance, National PTA supports allowing his or her child to be excused from those specific lessons, with no negative academic consequences.

National PTA believes that the autonomy of religious organizations depends on freedom from government intrusion, and that accountability would require an unconstitutional intrusion in the administration of religious organization.
That section in red - wouldn't that apply to testing?  In Washington state, students don't have to take the state test (except in high school).

That last paragraph I find curious given they are talking about public schools where religion is generally not a part of the curriculum or function of schools.

They also passed a resolution at their convention in July 2016 in support of protections for LGBTQ youth in schools. 

The National PTA is a group that has somewhat mixed messages. 

1 comment:

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