Take Action: Urge Congress to Prioritize the Mental Health of Students by Passing the STANDUP Act

At the beginning of the school year, due to the continuing pandemic, families focused on their children’s safe return to class. However, this pandemic has exacerbated a crisis that existed prior. Across the country, local emergency departments are recording dramatic increases in all mental health emergencies, including suspected suicide attempts. Our country is currently witnessing soaring rates of mental health challenges among our children and it is inextricably tied to the stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Childhood mental health concerns and suicide rates have steadily risen in the last decade. By 2018, suicide became the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10-24. The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Children’s Hospital Association have officially declared a national emergency in children and adolescent mental health. Additionally, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory report to highlight the current youth mental health crisis in correlation with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Suicide Training and Awareness Nationally Delivered for Universal Prevention Act (STANDUP Act) is the first federal legislation providing uniform research-based suicide prevention and awareness standards in schools to address the mental health needs of students. The bill currently has 46 bipartisan sponsors (38 Democrats and 8 Republicans).

 

PTA calls on Congress and the Administration to immediately address the many factors that contribute to the mental health crisis in the United States. Our association strongly encourages efforts that establish comprehensive community mental health. In addition, our organization supports all programs and projects that educate and inform parents, students and the general public about youth suicide prevention and support services for survivors of a suicide attempt.

 

The STANDUP Act has already passed in the Senate. Now it is the House of Representatives’ turn to cast the final vote! Take action today and urge your representative to vote to prioritize youth suicide prevention and vote “Yes” on the STANDUP Act!


JC/DC Take Action – Infrastructure Funding for Public Schools

**IMMEDIATE ADVOCACY ACTION NEEDED** 
JC/DC Alert for Immediate Action to tell Congress to Support Critical Funding for School Infrastructure

National PTA and its members have long advocated to ensure schools have the proper resources needed to help children learn, grow and succeed to reach their full potential. Yet, historically, unlike roads and bridges, school facilities have received virtually no federal investment. However, every school day, nearly 50 million K-12 students and 6 million adults occupy close to 100,000 public school buildings in the United States. In more than 30% of public-school facilities, windows, plumbing and HVAC systems are considered in “fair” or “poor” condition. Given state budget shortfalls and the need for economic recovery, now is the time for the federal government to invest in school infrastructure. The long-term success of our nation depends on quality federal investments in our education system. 

Contact your Representative and Senators today to insist that schools be included in infrastructure funding!

Dear Senator/Representative ~

As your constituent and a parent/guardian, I urge you to invest in our children and ensure that at least $100 billion for schools are included in the budget resolution and instructions currently in development.

Researchers estimate that we should be spending about $112 billion per year on capital outlay for our public school facilities. And yet, historically school facilities have received virtually no federal investment. Every school day, nearly 50 million K-12 students and 6 million teachers and staff occupy close to 100,000 public school buildings in the United States. Our nation’s schools are outdated and now is the time for the federal government to invest in school infrastructure. 

As your constituent, I urge you to ensure that at least $100 billion is allocated for school improvements in the upcoming budget resolution and accompanying instructions. We must support long term investments in education and guarantee schools have the proper resources needed to help all children learn, grow and succeed.

Sincerely,

Your Name and PTA

Not sure how to contact your Federal legislators? Click here and insert your street address or 9-digit zip code.

Paula McKinney
Vice President of Legislation and Advocacy 
Missouri PTA


JCDC Action Alert: Urgent Action Needed – Contact Governor Parson Now

JC/DC ACTION ALERT: Contact Governor Parson Now –   

We OPPOSE Establishing Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program

HB 349 

Missouri PTA is opposed to bills establishing the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program 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.  The scholarships will be used in private schools effectively creating a voucher system in Missouri.  

The bill received several amendments and will now:

  • Offer $50 million in tax credits for donation to one or more nonprofit “education assistance organizations” (EAO). The amount will be increased based on inflation but capped at $75 million. Ninety percent goes to the scholarships, 2% to the state treasurer, and the rest can go to the EA) (up to $4 million).
  • The EAO issues scholarships to students who live in Clay, Jackson, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties or any city with a population of more than 30,000 to attend a home, private, virtual or public school. Map HB349CountiesCities.jpg
  • Any qualified student is eligible for these scholarships, but priority is given to 1) special education students or students eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 2) students whose household earning does not exceed twice the eligibility for free and reduced lunch ($96,940 For a family of 4).  To be qualified, a student must have attended a public school for a semester in the last 12 months or be first enrolling in school.
  • Scholarship funds can be used for a broad list of reasons:
    • Tuition and fees to a private or virtual school
    • Textbooks
    • Educational therapies or services from a licensed or accredited practitioner or provider including, but not limited to paraprofessionals or aides.
    • Tutoring
    • Curriculum
    • Testing fees
    • Fees for a firm to manage the scholarship account
    • Classes and extracurricular programs
    • Computer hardware or technological devices
    • Summer education programs and after-school programs
    • Transportation costs for mileage to and from school.
  • Scholarships are only available in fiscal years following a year where the legislature appropriates to transportation 40% of the 75% amount necessary to fully fund transportation in 2021.  In any year where the appropriation for transportation goes below that amount, no new scholarship accounts can be created, but the existing ones can continue. (Funds do not need to be received.)
  • For the first 5 years, if a student leaves a public school or charter school after receiving a scholarship, the school district may continue to count the student for state aid unless the student graduates, returns to a resident public school, or quits receiving the scholarship.

Time sensitive action needed!  Contact Governor Parson NOW and urge him to VETO HB349

Dear Governor Parson,

The Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program is not good for students and parents, taxpayers and Missouri’s public schools.

Missouri PTA opposes vouchers in any form because:

Schools receiving the funds are not held accountable for delivering an education.

Teachers are not required to be certified or even have a college degree.

Schools accepting these scholarships are not required to enroll all students.

Schools receiving the funds are not held financially accountable for taxpayer dollars.

Tax breaks already exist for donations to scholarship funds.

As your constituent and voter, I urge you to VETO HB349.  This proposed bill will create an unchecked new tax credit program in Missouri that would allow public dollars to be used for private education, without accountability to Missouri students, parents and taxpayers.  This program creates further government bureaucracy taking vital education dollars out of Missouri’s public schools that educate all students and strengthen communities.  

HB349 would allow any taxpayer who makes a qualifying contribution to the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program to claim a tax credit equal to 50 percent of the total contribution. The tax credit voucher program would begin at $50 million per year and includes an escalator that would grow the program unchecked with no oversight by the Missouri General Assembly.  

This new voucher program would allow for the creation of nonprofit organizations that would be allowed to defer state tax dollars that would normally go to the education of all students, steering resources away from the classroom toward bureaucratic administration. 

This legislation would impact every district in the state by limiting the amount of state revenue available to fund public education that serves all students across the state. Public tax dollars used to support all students’ needs including mental health access, classroom supports, and highly qualified teachers must be a priority for the legislature before creating programs that would defer money away from public education.

As your constituent I believe that all students deserve equal access to a free public education. The continuation of our free nation and its strength and well-being depend on our free public schools.

VETO on HB349.

I appreciate you considering this information as you work to support Missouri’s students, families and communities.

 

Sincerely,

Your name and PTA

You can cut and paste this letter in an email for Governor Parson. You can also mail this letter to:

Office of the Governor Michael L. Parson

P.O. Box 720

Jefferson City, MO 65102

 

Paula McKinney
Vice President of Legislation and Advocacy 
Missouri PTA

Vice President & Director of Legislation and Advocacy

paulam@mopta.org