Thank You, Congressman Platts!

United States Representative Todd Russell Platts (PA-19) announced last week that he will not seek re-election after six terms in office. Congressman Platts is best known as one of the last Members of Congress who refuses political action committee dollars, instead relying only on personal contributions to fund each of his congressional campaigns. He’s also well-known around the Capitol for his long daily commute to and from York, Pennsylvania – choosing to forgo the convenience of a DC apartment for evenings at home with his wife and two sons. What an incredible example of family engagement!

It comes as no surprise, then, that a steadfast commitment to children is a hallmark of Platts’ Congressional service; particularly, issues of educational equity and children’s health, both PTA priorities. As a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Congressman has been a loyal champion of public education. Platts was the lead Republican sponsor of Child Nutrition Reauthorization legislation in 2010 that significantly improved the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, a champion of special education funding, and has consistently bucked his own party in opposition of federal funds for private school scholarships.

During the 111th Congress, Platts teamed up with Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY/04), to secure bipartisan introduction of the Family Engagement in Education Act, serving as the lead Republican cosponsor of PTA’s signature piece of legislation. This Congress, despite a new majority and shifting political dynamic, Representative Platts assumed the lead, reintroducing the bill with Representative McCarthy by his side, in May of 2011. During committee efforts to reauthorize and improve the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, known as No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB) Congressman Platts has been a vocal advocate for family engagement, offering  and successfully securing adoption of an amendment to save Parent Information and Resource Centers (PIRCs). Most recently, he worked to ensure inclusion of key family engagement provisions in Chairman Kline’s (R-MN/06) draft reauthorization language.

In recognition of his ongoing commitment to children and families, Representative Platts was honored with the 2011 PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award.Thank You!

At the 2011 PTA Legislative Conference, the Congressman spoke of his family as inspiration for his public service, accepting the award in honor of his mother, who he credits with being an active participant in the education of him and his four siblings.

Our PTA tagline is every child. one voice. Upon learning that Congressman Platts will be taking a bow at the close of 2012 to spend more time with his own children, we wish to sincerely thank you, Congressman Platts, for being a true voice for every child over the course of your 12 years on Capitol Hill.

Engaging Families to Promote Early Literacy

Family engagement is a key factor in many child outcomes including social competence, positive child-adult relationships and academic achievement. In fact, children whose families are more involved display higher levels of literacy achievement than children whose families are less involved. Likewise, shared reading between children and parents is linked to strong academic achievement. Title I regulations recognize the importance of family engagement by providing specific guidelines that support literacy achievement. This workshop will feature research-driven practicesband resources that bond families around reading and creating meaningful connections with the public library. The session is presented by Holly Kreider, Director of Programs, Raising A Reader.

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Making The Common Core Connection! How to Avoid ‘Lowest Common Denominator’ Teaching

This session at the 2012 National Title I Conference is presented by Alan Sitomer, California’s 2007 Teacher of the Year. The coming adoption of the Common Core Standards will present a host of challenges for administrators, classroom teachers, and students. In this session, Alan Sitomer, three time Teacher of the Year and author of 16 books for both educators and young adults, will guide attendees through a proven means of 1) nailing the Common Core Standards, 2) delivering solid test scores, and 3) avoiding the de-evolution of our classroom curriculum into ‘lowest common denominator’ teaching.

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Systemic Family Engagement: Generating the Necessary Forces to Take Flight in High Poverty Schools

Understanding the mechanics of a soaring bird can seem overwhelming and even next to impossible! Yet, every day the mechanics all come together-the air flow around the wings is just right and we are privy to witness one the most beautiful events: birds soaring effortlessly. Join us on our journey of integrating Systemic Family Engagement; applying a system through partnerships that allows children to soar effortlessly in times when it seems next to impossible. We will share video from parents, liaisons and administrators, offer budget ideas, and share data regarding student achievement. This presentation at the 2012 National Title I Conference features Jenni Brasington, Maria Paredes, and Kimberly Tobey.

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Lesson from a Study of Highly Effective Title I Schools

In the spring of 2011, the Colorado Department of Education identified 11 effective Title I schools, based upon each of the school’s academic growth data. Nine of these highly diverse schools participated in a week-long comprehensive review by a team of six experienced educators. The schools’ practices were measured against a rubric organized around nine research-based standards. This same rubric is used with struggling Title I schools on Improvement. From these reviews, critical elements that contributed to the schools’ effectiveness were identified.These and other issues will be presented by Nazanin Mohajer-Nelson, Alyssa Pearson, and Trish Boland.

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National Title I Conference Keynote: Reality is Broken

In her engaging, forward-thinking session Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal makes the case that the gamer spirit — an attitude of fun, dedicated, collective problem-solving — is our greatest asset as we face the social, economic, and environmental problems of the 21st century. She argues that game designers are effectively happiness engineers, experts in making difficult tasks engaging, and that we should draw on their smarts as we frame the challenges of our time. According to world-renowned game designer Jane McGonigal, the reason for this mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In this groundbreaking exploration of the power and future of gaming, McGonigal reveals how we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.

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