Every Child, One Voice…the Calling Card of PTA
As the 2017-2018 school year began, adults tended to reminisce about their child’s first day of school or even their own first day. Did they have to go to the doctor for that final immunization shot or that physical (that terrible day engrained in their minds)? Did they ride the bus to school? Did they attend kindergarten? Did they eat lunch in the cafeteria or take a book out of the library?
These experiences are a few that help to form a child’s attitude and perception toward school and ultimately education. But did you ever wonder how these things came to be? In 1897, Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst along with 2,000 other people converged on Washington DC in a call for action to eliminate threats that endangered children. This was the first of many meetings where problems were identified and strategies devised. After years of working hard, raising awareness, speaking to anyone and everyone the ideas became reality. The first Kindergarten was established, mandatory childhood immunizations were required. Child Labor Laws were passed protecting the children and giving them a chance to learn and live a longer and more productive life. The Juvenile Justice System was established and the first Nationwide School Lunch Program was created. These people fought long and hard thru campaigns, personal stories, and one-on-one meetings to make these happen. This advocating for children who didn’t have a voice was done by everyday people, like you. They were up against many hardships like not being able to communicate via phone or email or text or even being able to go to a meeting in the next town without it taking hours instead of minutes to travel there or even being heard because in those days women weren’t allowed to talk that was for the men only but these things didn’t stop them. They fought hard and never stayed quiet so that the children would be protected.
Today these programs are not only still in existence but are considered to be the right of a child to receive them and they have been expanded on. Kindergartens are now in almost every school whether they are half or full day and Pennsylvania is even working on making early childhood programs more readily available. The School Lunch Program now offers breakfast and is always being updated to follow the latest nutrition requirements. Our children are eating healthier and more often than they ever have. In 2017 Pennsylvania’s Childhood Immunizations Laws were changed to guarantee that children are immunized sooner rather than later by limiting the time that they can be in school without them but still helping parents to work on a plan to see that they are fully immunized. Schools are required to help engage families both in school and in their homes, anywhere that the child is becomes a learning place for them as well as for their families. ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) helps guide schools in this endeavor. These programs and many others would not be there if it wasn’t for a person recognizing that something was wrong in the life of a child and willing to speak up about it and keep talking, even yelling tell they were heard. This is what makes this association the nation’s greatest and oldest volunteer child advocacy group. It started with regular people with nothing to gain but a better life for children and today that fight has not waivered. Every Child, One Voice became the calling card of PTA. Individuals joining together to lift their voices to protect the children. One voice is all it takes to start the music!
Be that voice!! Advocate for the children, you are needed!!
Pennsylvania PTA Legislative Committee is appointed by the Pennsylvania PTA President and chaired by the Legislation and Advocacy Chairman. The committee’s primary responsibility is to review PTA’s Legislative Program and make recommendations to the state board of managers and other PTA leaders.The committee also works to increase PTA members’ participation in advocacy opportunities in Harrisburg as well as in local communities. The committee achieves this in a variety of ways.
Ø Action Alerts/E-Blasts – When immediate action is needed to effect change on legislative issues, Pennsylvania PTA sends out action alerts to its members. These time sensitive e-mails highlight legislation moving through the legislature that will affect issues important to PTA members.
Ø Writing and Reviewing of Resolutions - Resolutions are official documents outlining the opinion, will, or intent of the association to address problems, situations, or concerns that affect children and youth and require statewide action to seek resolution in the issue. The state PTA's Legislation and Advocacy committee’s responsibility is to review PTA’s resolutions and make recommendations to the state board of managers and other PTA leaders. The state PTA has adopted hundreds of resolutions on a wide variety of state education, health, and safety issues since its first convention. Over the past two years, the state PTA resolutions committee has submitted several new resolutions for consideration, including Pennsylvania Value-Added Assessment System (PVAAS), Privacy of Student Records-Military Recruiters, Sun Safety: Skin Cancer Prevention Measures at School, Pay-To-Play School Programs, The Importance of Early Care and Education On School Readiness, and Homework. In 2006, Pennsylvania PTA submitted our School Health Council Resolution to National PTA for consideration. The National PTA Board approved it for convention 2006 and it was adopted by the National PTA Convention delegates in June 2006 without question! Making this a Pennsylvania PTA first!
Times and issues have changed over the past century, but the idea of advocating for children statewide has not—Pennsylvania PTA is alive and well!