National PTA Honors Outstanding Efforts in Taking Action for Kids

Honorees to be recognized at 2019 National PTA Legislative Conference

 ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Feb. 4, 2019)—National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2019 Outstanding Advocacy Awards, which honor parents and youth from across the country who have taken action on issues that affect the education, health, safety, well-being and long-term success of America’s children. The honorees will be recognized at the 2019 National PTA Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 13, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.
This year’s recipients are:

  • Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award—Missouri PTA

Prior to Missouri PTA’s advocacy efforts, Missouri was one of only five states that housed juveniles—some as young as nine—in adult facilities, even prior to their conviction. Missouri PTA worked with a coalition to plan and implement an initiative to support legislation that would make sure juveniles involved in the justice system are housed separately from adults. PTA members met with their local legislators, garnered the support of law enforcement and juvenile justice departments, and implemented a robust media campaign on the issue. Last year, after five years of concerted effort, Missouri PTA’s advocacy efforts saw success when SB 793 “Raise the Age” was signed into law. The new law requires that children be prosecuted in juvenile courts and ensures that no person under the age of 18 may be detained in an adult jail unless the person has been certified as an adult.

  • Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award—Austin Council of PTAs (Texas)

Austin Council of PTAs’ award-winning advocacy campaign began in spring 2018, when the district and the city’s public transportation authority announced a pilot program to make rides for students free for the summer. The PTA raised awareness about the free summer ride program and encouraged families, students, teachers and school staff to write letters to the transportation authority, as well as testify in person about the impact of free rides. Austin Council of PTAs’ advocacy efforts then turned toward support for a vote to make the free ride program permanent, to ensure every child in Austin has reliable access to schools. Members continued to reach out to students, parents, teachers, service providers and others, encouraging them to share their personal stories and to ensure that advocates were speaking loudly and with one voice. With the measure passing unanimously, Austin Council of PTAs successfully advocated making public transportation free for all K-12 students in their district.

  • Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award—Janelle Sperry (Bunker Hill, W.Va.) 

Janelle Sperry’s outstanding advocacy efforts span many roles and issue areas. Sperry has been a PTA member for 11 years and has served on the West Virginia PTA Board of Managers for seven years, including as president from 2015-2017 and currently as marketing chairperson. Among her many advocacy efforts, Sperry was instrumental in the formation of the West Virginia Coalition for Public Education, which is focused on preventing voucher legislation from being enacted in West Virginia. In this effort, Sperry met with the West Virginia state superintendent, associate superintendent of schools and the governor’s office as well as sent out letters to over 80 associations. Most recently, Sperry worked to draft a bill in West Virginia to define and establish the crime of cyberbullying. The bill was signed into law in 2018. Sperry has spent her entire life serving her community and continues to make the mission of PTA her focus by taking action to ensure every child receives a high-quality education.

  • Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award—Chloe Mattes (Racine, Wis.)

As Wisconsin PTA Youth Outreach Chair, Chloe Mattes decided to take action on an issue top of mind for most youth—college and career readiness. Through social media, Mattes reached out to students between the ages of 12-18 and their parents to spread the word about opportunities for students and their families to explore colleges, technical schools and career paths. She also interviewed high school students, teachers and college students about their college and career experiences. Using this footage, Mattes created YouTube videos and wrote articles that were sent to all local PTA leaders and community partners to raise awareness in Wisconsin about what it means to be college and career ready.

“Advocacy is critical to make advances for our nation’s youth and ensure every child has access to a high-quality public education in a learning environment that is healthy, safe and secure,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “We are looking forward to recognizing the best in PTA advocacy and celebrating these awardees’ efforts in taking action for kids at our legislative conference.”

Every year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to explore the association’s advocacy priorities and the federal policies that impact kids as well as actively advocate to create a better future for every child.

During the 2019 conference—themed “PTA Takes Action for Kids”—attendees will hear from speakers and participate in workshops to expand their knowledge of federal law and grow their advocacy skills. Attendees will use this knowledge to amplify their voices by meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, March 13.

“For over 120 years, National PTA advocates have been at the heart of efforts that have forever changed the lives of our children—including the passage of child labor laws, the start of the school lunch program, improvements to the treatment of children in the justice system, and the implementation of universal kindergarten classes,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA Executive Director. “As throughout our history, we are committed to urging the 116th Congress to take action for kids and enact legislation that makes a difference for every child.”

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. For more information, visit

JC/DC ACTION ALERT: the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program

** PLACED ON CALENDAR FOR COMMITTEE HEARING** Please Contact the House Ways and Means Committee now!

SB 160 has been placed on the Senate Ways and Means Calendar.

SB 160 would establish the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program.

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is a particular concern for PTA because this program would create an account that would allow taxpayers to make a qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization and claim a tax credit, as described in the act. The tax credit is for one hundred percent of the amount of the contribution. The tax credit may be carried forward for four years and may be transferred, sold, or assigned. The scholarships will be used in private schools effectively creating a voucher system in Missouri.

Missouri PTA encourages you to send emails the Senate Ways and Means Committee to let them know your feelings on this bill.

Dear Senators,

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is not good for students and parents, taxpayers and Missouri’s public schools for the following reasons:

Irresponsible expansion of tax credits when the state is facing massive shortfalls in the current budget. 

This is a voucher in a bad disguise.  This bill attempts to funnel public funds to private schools and home schools.  It also allows these funds to be spent on for-profit schools, including virtual schools, with no oversight.  This bill is not about seeking quality education for students. This bill is not about choice but about killing public education as we know it, with no assurances that education will be delivered at all. 

Lack of financial oversight of the schools receiving the funds. There is no accountability required of the schools receiving these funds.  These entities are not required to be located in Missouri or governed by Missouri residents.  These entities can be for-profit institutions created solely to earn money off of the backs of Missouri students.  They could be fly-by-night organizations that deliver no actual education, but profit at the expense of Missouri taxpayers.

Lack of educational oversight of the schools receiving the funds. These schools are not required to administer the MAP, identify or educate students with disabilities, or be accredited by any organization.   Missouri tax dollars will be spent for students to be taught by teachers without certification or the specialized knowledge to identify learning disabilities, dyslexia, etc.   The teachers and education providers receiving the funds are not even required to undergo a criminal background check.  Missouri tax dollars could be spent on services and therapies that are not educationally sound.  The bill states that a school “shall not be required to alter its creed, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum in order to accept students” under a scholarship, which means students with disabilities could be denied enrollment and students with disabilities can be refused specialized education.  Schools could deny enrollment based on economic status or grades.

Expands education beyond the age of 21.  Unlike free public education, which expires once the student turns 21 or graduates high school, parents and students may continue to receive these scholarships indefinitely as long as the student does not complete high school or passes a test for admission to college. 166.705.2

Please oppose SB 160 by voting no.


You name and PTA

Not sure how to contact the Ways and Means Committee? Click here

Carla Wiese

President Elect

Missouri PTA

National PTA Statement on Partial Government Shutdown

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Jan. 24, 2019)—The following statement can be attributed to National PTA President Jim Accomando:

“The partial government shutdown is impacting families, students and schools across the country in all areas. National PTA urges Congress and the Administration to come together immediately to address the shutdown and enact a bipartisan compromise that ends this impasse.

“Among the areas impacted, the shutdown has trapped important funds for school meal programs in budget debates. The House-approved FY19 appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of Agriculture must be adopted so students do not go hungry in schools and have the critical resources they need to learn, grow and thrive. Student nutrition and learning should not be caught in the cross hairs of the federal shutdown.

“National PTA encourages our 4 million members to mobilize by reaching out to their members of Congress, urging them to begin negotiations to reopen the government and ensure programs are funded and investments are provided that are essential to the health and success of every child.”

Congress Passes Bipartisan Reauthorization of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)

For years PTA has asked Congress to reauthorize JJDPA. Each year it would pass one chamber or the other only to stall. Today it finally happened, this important piece of legislation protecting juveniles in the justice system was reauthorized. Coming behind our victory in MO with #18in18 this feels like an early Christmas present protecting some of our most vulnerable youth.  #mopta#ptaproud #moptaadvocacyinaction Why PTA? Because of this.  EVERY child, one voice!

Today, thanks to YOU, NJJN’s fearless and robust advocacy community, Congress reauthorized the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act.  See our press statement below.
For Immediate Release
December 13, 2018
Melissa Coretz Goemann
Senior Policy Counsel, NJJN
(202) 630-3285
Congress Passes Bipartisan Reauthorization of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA)
New bill reauthorizes JJDPA and extends additional protections to children and youth in the juvenile justice system
Washington DC – Today, members Congress passed H.R. 6964, a bill to reauthorize and strengthen the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). This measure will promote fairness, ensure state compliance with safe treatment standards, and strengthen delinquency prevention measures.
“We’re thrilled that Congress has come together to take action to reauthorize the JJDPA, which is long overdue,” said Sarah Bryer, director of the National Juvenile Justice Network. “The leadership of Senators Grassley and Whitehouse and Representatives Lewis and Scott has helped to ensure that stronger federal standards and supports are in place for improving juvenile justice and delinquency prevention practices, and contributing to safeguards for youth, families and communities.”
For more than four decades the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) has had a profound impact on how our youth justice systems operate by providing federal guidance and standards on the safe and equitable treatment of youth in every state, U.S. territory, the District of Columbia, and tribes. The JJDPA was last reauthorized by Congress in 2002. H.R. 6964 helps update the law by strengthening the core protection requiring states to address racial and ethnic disparities and requiring states to extend, within 3 years, the jail removal and sight and sound core requirements to keep youth awaiting trial in criminal court out of adult lock-ups and to ensure sight and sound separation in the limited circumstances where they are held in adult facilities. The bill is also informed by new developments that have taken place in juvenile justice since it was last reauthorized. For example, it requires that the state plans be supported by or take into account scientific knowledge on adolescent brain development and behavior, and that plans provide alternatives to detention for status offenses, engage family members in the design and delivery of prevention and treatment services, use community-based services, and promote evidence-based and trauma-informed programs and practices. Finally, the bill requires states to develop and implement a plan to eliminate the use of restraints on pregnant, confined youth.
The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) leads a movement of state-based juvenile justice reform organizations and alumni of its Youth Justice Leadership Institute to fight for a fairer youth justice system that’s appropriate for youth and their families. NJJN advocates for policies and practices that treat youth in trouble with the law with dignity and humanity and which strengthen them, their families and their communities. Founded in 2005, NJJN is currently comprised of 53 organizational members in 43 states and the District of Columbia and a growing cadre of graduates from our Youth Justice Leadership Institute.
Thank you for your tireless advocacy to Reauthorize JJDPA! 

National PTA Releases Two NEW ESSA Resources and Social Media Toolkit

PTA Leaders,

We are pleased to share with you two new resources on local implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).  These two documents will live on our webpage. We hope you find them useful!

ESSA provides a unique opportunity for parents and families to give input on their children’s educational experience, and strengthen parent are family engagement.  As school districts and schools implement this new federal education law to improve outcomes for every student, National PTA believes parents should have a seat at the table when decisions are made—and districts and schools should work with parents and families as partners throughout the school year.

The first document, The Parent and Family Guide to Local Implementation of ESSA explains what to expect as the law is implemented in your community. The second one, What to Ask Your District and School Leaders About ESSAprovides questions to ask your district and school leaders as you take your seat at the table as an essential partner in education.

Additionally, we have created a social media toolkit for you to use to help promote these two resources throughout your networks. National PTA will be promoting these two new resources over the next few weeks and we greatly appreciate you sharing these as well and retweeting and reposting National PTA’s social.

You are find the direct links here:

The Parent and Family Guide to Local Implementation of ESSA

What to Ask Your District and School Leaders About ESSA

Thank you for your continued advocacy!

Jacki Ball | Director, Government Affairs
National PTA®
1250 N. Pitt Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
P: (703) 518-1243 | C: (703) 405-5206
[email protected] | | @balljacki