A Conference Success

Well, the National PTA 2010 Legislative Conference is now in the history books and what an event to remember.

As you know, we were honored to have our First Lady, Michelle Obama, join us to talk about children’s health and her “Let’s Move” campaign. The delegates in attendance took her message to heart about a healthier lifestyle, one that I would hope anyone could embrace. In addition to this special moment in time, PTA members were able to hear from leaders in various fields regarding Common Core Standards, the Child Nutrition Act and ESEA re-authorization.

More importantly, this conference is an opportunity for your voices to be heard by our decision makers in Congress. It was remarkable to walk through the halls of the House and Senate office buildings and see so many PTA advocates. One of the key strengths of PTA is our collective voices; a fact that was noticed by the Congressional members who took the time to meet with PTA leaders.

Regardless of anyone’s political points of view, PTA is seen as a voice for reason; one that all elected officials should respect. Case in point is a statement made by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY). During an awards ceremony during the conference where Senator Enzi and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) were both recognized for their leadership on children’s issues, Senator Enzi stated “When he was alive, Ted Kennedy was rated as the most liberal member of the Senate. During that same time, I was rated as the most conservative. Now, if Ted Kennedy and I can work closely together, anyone can.”

A perfect point! Working together is an important task. One that PTA will continue to encourage as we face the tough conversations on the tough issues of today.

Our thanks to the National PTA Staff and Legislative Committee for making our 2010 Conference such a tremendous success!

Until next time.
Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors- president, National PTA

We need Statesmen, not Politicians!

I have a pop quiz for you! Name one community that is not facing serious funding issues with their educational system?

Educational funding is the focus of the day. As parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and supporters of education, we all share a common concern, when will the bleeding stop?

When we band together and seek support from our decision makers, usually those who serve in our state legislatures, we receive little comfort. In most cases we hear our elected leaders say “I don’t know what to do.” They say we have no money, yet they continue to fund local projects or cut taxes even more. An example from my state of South Carolina, a short time ago the state legislature traded a property tax source for a penny sales tax increase. This legislation, called Act 388, has been a disaster for education. School districts have suffered several multi-million dollar hits to our budget which, left un-addressed, will eventually have a painful impact on the classroom.

When we try to resolve these issues with the decision makers in our state capitals, we usually hear, “we need to use all available funds for economic development.” What in the world is a high quality learning environment? Is it not seen as economic development?

You’ve probably heard me say this before, but . . .

When a business looks to build in a community, its leadership looks at the schools and roads. If both are not top quality they look elsewhere. Employers know that their employees are going to look for the best schools. They are going to look for a school that is safe; secure; healthy; technologically equal and modern; an environment that helps make learning fun and successful. That’s economic development. Support schools and support growth.

Now, how does this tie into the title? The answer is easy. For far too many years we have been forced to elect politicians who choose to ignore the toughest issues of today. They would rather point fingers, and blame. Long gone are the days when we elected elder statesmen who would find solutions, not excuses. We, as parents and community supporters of education, need to start today in finding those who will take on the hard topics of today and deal with them. We need to elect officials who care more about dealing with problems head-on and not the next election or fund-raiser. Until we collectively address these issues year after year we’re going to see education take a back seat to other interests. If left un-addressed everyone will suffer.

Find a statesman!

Until next time,
Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors- president, National PTA