National PTA Honors Outstanding COVID-19 Pandemic and Racial Justice and Equity Advocacy Efforts

National PTA is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2021 Outstanding Advocacy Awards. The annual awards honor state, local and individual PTA advocates for taking action to improve the education, health, safety and well-being of every child. New this year, National PTA is also honoring a PTA for advocacy specifically in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. The honorees will be recognized during the 2021 National PTA Virtual Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 10.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award—New York State PTA

New York State PTA demonstrated outstanding dedication and leadership through their nimble and highly effective response to the many hardships wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. New York State PTA advocated on a multitude of issues relating to the pandemic and impacting students and families, while also forging new partnerships to ensure effective advocacy. Through a sustained and comprehensive communication, marketing and outreach strategy, New York State PTA members and non-members received multiple touchpoints and messages highlighting their advocacy efforts, detailing available resources, offering education on relevant topics, and targeting underserved communities and families. The advocacy plan was crafted to be holistic and serve all types of PTA units and members, including rural and urban communities, families with varying income levels, students with disabilities and their families, LGBTQ+ students, educators and their families, ELL students and families, documented and undocumented immigrant families, and other populations.

  • Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award—Fairfax County Special Education PTA (Virginia)

Fairfax County Special Education PTA demonstrated true dedication and leadership through their determined advocacy on the issue of restraint and seclusion in schools. The use of restraint and seclusion in schools has been shown to cause post-traumatic stress disorder, physical injury and even death. Additionally, these practices are disproportionately used against students with disabilities and students of color, making this an issue of racial equity as well as one of access to a free and appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. To advance their advocacy, Fairfax County Special Education PTA collaborated with partners and adopted a position statement, utilizing National PTA’s 2015 resolution on restraint and seclusion as well as National PTA’s endorsement of the 2020 Keeping All Students Safe Act. Fairfax County Special Education PTA also engaged their community to call upon their school board for massive reforms regarding the use and documentation of restraint and seclusion in Fairfax County Public Schools. As a result of their advocacy, a new policy was passed on Dec. 17, 2020, banning seclusion and limiting restraint use in Fairfax County Public Schools.

  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advocacy Award—Seattle Council PTSA (Washington)

Seattle Council PTSA demonstrated leadership and dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion through their advocacy for better school policy. Specifically, Seattle Council PTSA advocated for an anti-racism policy in Seattle Public Schools, as well as an anti-racism resolution from Washington State PTA that was adopted by the 2020 Legislative Assembly. To accomplish the goal of creating an anti-racism policy, Seattle Council PTSA conducted a series of well-publicized and successful community engagement sessions to discuss the policy. Additionally, Seattle Council PTSA facilitated listening sessions in English and Spanish for Black, Indigenous and people of color with the Seattle Education Association as well as King County Public Health Authorities. The policy has been the subject of intense interest and discussion by their school board and is expected to be passed by the school board.

  • Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award—Jenna Alexander (Hamilton, Va.) 

Jenna Alexander serves as vice president of advocacy for Virginia PTA. Throughout her term, she built an advocacy committee that includes representatives for each of Virginia’s active districts. During COVID-19, Alexander engaged the advocacy committee to focus on issues facing the community, organizing a series of webinars, developing a social media toolkit, initiating an email campaign directed toward the Virginia General Assembly and federal legislators, and launching a social media campaign and virtual rally to call on legislators to restore funding for education. Alexander makes sure that all voices are heard and valued. Her leadership, compassion and determination to make the lives of all children better is what makes her shine.

  • Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award—Bailey Proctor (Elmsford, N.Y.)

Through leadership, dedication and creativity, Bailey Proctor raised awareness of social justice and education equity policies in the Elmsford Union Free School District. Proctor created a student activism club called R.E.A.C.H., which stands for Raiders for Education, Action and Change, and helped organize a Black Lives Matter rally for the Elmsford community. She is a member of the student-only District Equity Team, and serves as the 2020-2021 student representative for Elmsford PTSA. Thanks to her leadership, the PTSA has seen an increase in student membership. Proctor’s determination has inspired Elmsford PTSA members to hold difficult conversations about the practices that stifle the community’s growth. She has modeled and empowered her peers and community to speak on the issues that impact student life.

“PTAs across the country have heard their community’s cry for help during the pandemic and for racial justice, and they have responded. We are advocating every day to safeguard the education, health and safety of our nation’s children and make sure students, families, schools and communities have what they need during this challenging time in our country,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “We are pleased to recognize the outstanding efforts of New York State PTA, Fairfax County Special Education PTA, Seattle Council PTSA, Jenna and Bailey, and we look forward to celebrating them during our virtual legislative conference.”

Every year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country to take action on the association’s public policy priorities.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Legislative Conference will be virtual. During the conference—themed “PTA Takes Action Together for Every Child”—attendees will hear from speakers and participate in workshops to expand their knowledge of federal law, grow their advocacy skills and learn how to shape public policy on Capitol Hill and at home. Participants will also hear PTA advocacy success stories and explore National PTA’s public policy priorities for the 117th Congress. Additionally, they will amplify their voices by meeting virtually with their federal representatives, Wednesday, March 10.

“National PTA will work with the 117th Congress, the U.S. Department of Education and the Biden/Harris Administration to ensure that every child has access to a fair and equitable education,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA Executive Director. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a bright light on and exacerbated inequities in our public education system. This next phase of ‘returning to school’ is an important chance to ensure every child has every opportunity to reach their fullest potential, regardless of their zip code.”


National PTA Diversity Awards Application Is Open

The application closes March 14, 2021 at 11PM EST/ 8PM PST.

Do you know of a PTA (including your own) who has made significant progress in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion – from diversifying its membership or leadership to creating a culture of belonging to ending discriminatory practices? National PTA is now accepting applications for the 2021 Jan Harp Domene Diversity and Inclusion Award. State, district/council/region, and local PTAs are eligible to apply and winners will receive a $1,000 award and recognition at the 2021 National PTA Convention and Expo!

As you know, we believe that equity drives our mission and that every PTA focusing on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion is critical to the success of our association at all levels. National PTA’s Diversity, Inclusion, and Outreach Committee hopes to raise awareness about this award and increase the number of applicants – can you help? Learn more, promote, and apply at www.pta.org/diversityaward and using the attached social media toolkit.

Jan Harp Domene served as National PTA President from 2007-2009 and was a champion for diversity and inclusion, ensuring that families of all backgrounds felt welcomed into the PTA family. National PTA established the Jan Harp Domene Award in 2012 to recognize outstanding PTAs across the country who have succeeded and continue to make diversity and inclusion a priority.

This year, the application process has been streamlined and applicants can apply in writing or by video submission and in English and Spanish at PTA.org/DiversityAward. A state, district/council/region, and local PTA will be chosen to receive the award, so please help promote it across your PTA networks. The application closes March 14, 2021 at 11PM EST/ 8PM PST.


Nextdoor Launches First-of-its-Kind National Campaign Empowering Neighbors to Raise Funds for Local Schools Who Need it Most

Nextdoor is launching a new national campaign and collaborating with National PTA to tap into neighborhoods to raise funds for schools and families as an unpredictable school year gets underway. From distance learning and food insecurities to technology access, school communities are facing unprecedented challenges. Through this collaboration, PTAs for the first time can instantly reach verified neighbors through Nextdoor to gain support for their mission and raise funds for students and schools in need—something they need now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With Nextdoor’s new Sell For Good feature, neighbors can support their local schools by simply buying and selling household items on Nextdoor’s For Sale & Free and donating the proceeds to their local PTAs.

“COVID-19 has presented significant challenges for so many students, families and schools, and PTAs across the country are working hard to help navigate these,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “We appreciate Nextdoor’s new way of supporting local PTAs and their communities’ challenges.”

Nextdoor and PTA are kicking off the collaboration and first-of-its kind campaign in Austin and Chicago. In Austin, neighbors can clean out their closets in support of the Austin Council of PTAs, and all proceeds donated via Sell For Good will go toward the Austin Fun + Learning project. In Chicago, proceeds will support grants awarded to Title I schools that are most in need.

“If there were ever a moment to connect with our neighborhoods on a deeper level, that time is now,” said Nextdoor CEO Sarah Friar. “We’re thrilled to team up with National PTA to provide a timely solution as neighbors unite to help provide educational resources for students in need this school year.”

PTAs interested in learning more can visit nextdoor.com/nonprofit. Sell for Good is free to use and available for all Nextdoor members in the United States at nextdoor.com/good or by visiting the For Sale & Free section in your Nextdoor app.

National PTA does not endorse any commercial product, entity or service. No endorsement of Nextdoor is implied. 


National PTA Designates Sept. 14-18 ‘Back-to-School Week’

National PTA has designated Sept. 14-18 Back-to-School Week to support families, teachers and PTA leaders as schools reopen across the country. Throughout the week, National PTA will share information and resources on social media using #PTABackToSchool and at PTA.org/BackToSchool to help school communities navigate the new school year and address the challenges that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The association will also launch the third season of its Notes from the Backpack podcast. National PTA’s Back-to-School Week is sponsored by PTA Proud National Sponsor Office Depot.

 

“This is a school year like no other as the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “Whether school communities are returning to classrooms in person, virtually or a hybrid of both, we want to make sure everyone gets a great start; support families, teachers and students’ success; and ensure the critical needs of every child are met.” 

 

Each day of Back-to-School Week, National PTA will share resources for:

 

  • PTA Leaders in Action
  • Learning at Home
  • Family-School Partnerships
  • Teacher Support

 

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, National PTA will launch the third season of Notes from the Backpack. The season will feature nationally acclaimed guests and episodes about digital learning, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education and the importance of civic engagement. Episodes will be released every week this fall and will be available to stream at PTA.org/BackpackNotes. The first episode will feature the award-winning children’s book author Kwame Alexander.

 

“Since our founding, National PTA has been committed to supporting students, families and teachers; promoting the health, safety and well-being of all children and youth; and making sure every child has the resources they need to learn, grow and thrive,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “We are pleased to launch another season of our podcast and mark our Back-to-School Week to help make this unique school year a success.”

 

National PTA has also compiled resources, tools and information at PTA.org/COVID19 to support families and educators during the pandemic. National PTA has also provided over $1 million in grants to local and district/council/region PTAs to help meet critical needs of students, families and teachers during this challenging time. In addition, the association continues to call on Congress to provide more resources immediately to schools.


National PTA 50th Anniversary Unification Webinar

National PTA is holding a special event on August 20th, 2020 at 10:00 AM (Central) to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the unification of  the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers (NCCPT) and the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (NCPT) to form National PTA.

“In these unprecedented times, we must be unified in our advocacy for all.  Please join and learn how it all started, as we continue to make advancements in diversity, equity, and inclusion so that everybody feels a sense of belonging within PTA.” – Steven Cook, Missouri PTA Diversity Outreach & Engagement Chair, Vice-President Elect & Director of Membership

See the following letter from National PTA President Leslie Boggs for more information about the event:


As many of you know, 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the unification of the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers (NCCPT) and the National Congress of Parents and Teachers (NCPT) to form National PTA. We have decided to celebrate this momentous occasion all year in 2020 – from Founder’s Day recognition to virtual Convention highlights of Selena Sloan Butler and more.

To further honor this anniversary, next week on Thursday, August 20th at 11:00 AM EST we are holding a special webinar:

“PTA History 101: The National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers and Unification.” In it, we will hear from Dr. Christine Woyshner of Temple University and author of the book

National PTA, Race, and Civic Engagement: 1897-1970 about the history of the NCCPT and the behind-the-scenes process that led to the unification of our two Congresses to form today’s PTA.  I will also be joined by Anna King, President-Elect and Sylvia R. Reyna, Chair of the Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach Committee, to reflect on Dr. Woyshner’s research and the lessons learned from this important history.

This history is critical for every PTA leader, so we hope that you will join us and help promote it within your networks. The webinar will be recorded and available to anyone who registers. You can register here:

https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/8875535345124786447?fbclid=IwAR0tMtSpd92Be9FV4rIXhzT-6PYP6vJ7qDFaqxsL7GAU89NrD2eqBfT55ws

I know how committed all of you are to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion so that everybody feels a sense of belonging within PTA and are able to contribute to making our mission a reality. Thank you again for your service.

Warm wishes,

Leslie Boggs