Secretary Duncan Announces Parents’ Set of Rights at National PTA Convention

arneduncan2015At National PTA’s Convention on Friday, June 26, the U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a set of rights that outline what families should be able to expect for their children’s education. The rights identify three aspects of high-quality educational opportunities that every parent should be able to obtain for their child.

To help prepare every student for success in life, families have a right to:

  • Access high quality preschool
  • A safe, supportive, well-resourced school with challenging academic standards
  • Affordable, quality, post-secondary education or training opportunities

During his remarks, Duncan emphasized that the set of rights take place during three pivotal stages of a student’s life. In addition, they prepare them for success in college and careers as engaged, productive citizens.

National PTA agrees that all parents should have access to high quality early learning opportunities for their children. Research shows that providing effective, targeted support and interventions to children and parents beginning at birth leads to higher levels of long term education and career achievement. Additional studies also point to the enormous benefits of early childhood education such as Head Start. For example, a study found that Head Start participants are about 8.5 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school, 6 percentage points more likely to have attempted at least one year of college, less likely to be unemployed, no longer enrolled in school or in poor health (Deming, 126, 2009). Early childhood education is not just a priority for our children and families; but it is the right investment to make..

National PTA also supports having high standards that demand a lot from students but are also consistent, articulate, and developed collaboratively with educators, parents and students. Yet, parents are acutely aware that their children cannot achieve to their full potential if they do not feel safe and supported at school. Policymakers and schools can and should do more to prevent bullying and school violence and prioritize education funding to provide the necessary resources to support teachers, counselors, and other school and instructional support staff.

Every parent should have the opportunity to ensure their children have acquired the necessary 21st century skills through high standards, access to post-secondary education and/or career training. These skills are critical to ensuring a strong economy and a vibrant future. Today’s workplace requires employees to be able to think on their feet, make decisions and solve problems. As the demand for highly skilled workers continues to increase, it is imperative that America’s youth are prepared with critical thinking and reasoning skills necessary to engage in our complex work environments and compete in our global economy.

Parents are not only an integral part in their children’s lives at home but are crucial to their success in school. Collectively, parents have the power to transform educational opportunity in this country.

National PTA remains committed to working with Secretary Duncan and the Department of Education to ensure every child has access to high-quality educational opportunities throughout their life and the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Join Secretary Duncan in a Twitter chat to continue the dialogue he started at National PTA’s Convention on family engagement in education on July 1 at 1:30 p.m., ET, using #PTChat.

Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator at National PTA.

Deming, D. (2009). Early Childhood Intervention and Life-Cycle Skill Development: Evidence from Head Start. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(3), 111-134.

Vacation and Read Together—Take the Family Reading Challenge!

FrancesFrost2012We’ve followed a boy who lives within the gears of a train station clock. Run with a boy turned superhero when struck by lightning. Solved puzzling cases with kids in a mysterious society. Cheered on a would-be prince restored to his throne. Cried through a first-love trip to Amsterdam. Looked for the lost class guinea pig with twin sisters.

We’ve done all of this from the blanket in the yard, cuddled up in bed and riding in the car on cross-state road trips.

Of course, it’s through the magic of books.

Since the kids were babies, I’ve read to and with them. I want my kids to share my love of reading, for the academic benefits, but also because it’s great entertainment. Books are available on every subject and about all kinds of people on different adventures. They can make you laugh, cry, think and dream. And they’re portable! Especially now with iPads, e-readers and mobile phones.

And summer is a great season to get the kids reading. The long days—hours by the pool, enjoying an ice cream—they all go well with a good book.

As we pack our suitcases for vacation, the kids have two book assignments:

  • Select a book to read—a paper book or e-book. The books have to be long enough to last past us pulling out of the driveway. It’s that easy! Reading is the perfect end-of-the-day, calming activity. Parents can read aloud and let the kids read too. Or everyone can read quietly, together.
  • Select an audio-book for travel time. When we do road trips, we like a story to help pass the hours and miles in the car. The book has to be something everyone will enjoy, so this causes the most discussion and negotiations. It also results in us driving around an extra block before parking, just to get to the end of the chapter and chit-chat waiting for dinner as we talk about what character we like (or don’t) and what we think will happen next.

Summer may not seem like the time for academics, but reading is the perfect lazy day activity. And reading together makes it even more fun. So grab a book, gather the kids and enjoy.

Frances Frost is a wife, mom of four and a PTA leader. She is also an author and the blogger for Just Piddlin’ ( Follow her on Facebook—Just Piddlin with Frances—and Twitter @JustPiddlinBlog. Frances and her family are part of our inspiration for the PTA Family Reading Challenge. Watch this video to learn about how they—and other families—love to read together

PTA Family Reading Challenge

You can be a part of the reading fun this summer by joining the PTA Family Reading Challenge—a campaign to inspire families to keep learning alive by reading great books together.

In July, National PTA will empower families to read together by sharing tips and activities that encourage ongoing reading. Families can participate in the PTA Family Reading Challenge—and win great prizes—by sharing photos, videos and memories that demonstrate how and why reading together is a fun and treasured family activity.

“Girl Meets World” Actor Auggie Maturo’s Mom Opens Up About his Food Allergies

Maha Maturo and Auggie(Sponsored Post) Greetings! I am Maha Maturo. You may know my son, Auggie, from his role on “Girl Meets World.”

Together, we recently joined Mylan on an important initiative to share our personal story about a topic that affects Auggie and undoubtedly many people in your community: potentially life-threatening (severe) allergies.

Like an estimated one in every 13 kids in the U.S., Auggie has severe allergies and was diagnosed after he experienced a life-threatening allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, as a young child. I remember the day vividly; we were celebrating Easter with family when he tried a cashew for the first time. His lips began to swell, his throat began to close, and he started to vomit. We took him directly to the emergency room, where he was treated and released with a prescription for EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection) Auto-Injector. After that, we learned that Auggie is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts, sesame and coconut.

Since that experience, we have learned a lot about how to be prepared for a life-threatening allergic reaction – and even at the young age of 7 – Auggie has learned about the importance of being his own advocate and speaking up about his food allergies. So, we have joined the EpiPen® On Location™ initiative to help other families understand what we have learned; even with constant vigilance and avoidance of his allergic triggers, life happens so we have to be prepared with our own script:

  • Have an Anaphylaxis Action Plan: Auggie will be the first to tell you about our plan that includes 1) avoiding his allergic triggers, 2) recognizing the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, 3) having access to two EpiPen Jr® Auto-Injectors, at all times and 4) seeking immediate emergency medical care should anaphylaxis occur.
  • We Go Out – But We Plan Ahead: We, and Auggie, try as hard as we can to avoid exposure to his food allergens. When we’re heading out to a restaurant, we call ahead to make sure there will be options for him to eat; we also ask to speak to the chef once we arrive.
  • Location, Location, Location: We always have access to two EpiPen Jr® Auto-Injectors at all times, including at home, in my bag and with him while filming.

How you can get involved:

Along with the other EpiPen® On Location™ Ambassadors, “Project Runway” judge and Marie Claire Creative Director Nina Garcia and Chef Amanda Freitag, we are really happy to be helping to educate others about the importance of always having a plan.

Through a series of videos, each of us is sharing our personal story and connection to severe allergies. We encourage you to watch and share the videos at for a chance to win a Walt Disney World® Resort vacation from Mylan to visit the Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival this fall.

As part of the prize, if the winners travel between October 2 and 4 they will have the opportunity to attend a meet and greet with me and Auggie, as well as Chef Amanda Freitag. Winners will also receive an exclusive travel kit from Nina Garcia.

To enter, share our videos up to three times per week.

  • Be sure to add #OnLocationTips and #promo to your posts.
  • The contest closes on July 9, 2015, so start sharing today!
  • For the official sweepstakes rules, visit


EpiPen® (epinephrine injection) 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr® (epinephrine injection) 0.15 mg Auto-Injectors are for the emergency treatment of life-threatening allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) caused by allergens, exercise, or unknown triggers; and for people who are at increased risk for these reactions. EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr® are intended for immediate administration as emergency supportive therapy only. Seek immediate emergency medical help right away.

Important Safety Information

EpiPen® and EpiPen Jr® Auto-Injectors contain a single dose of epinephrine, which you (or your caregiver or others who may be in a position to administer EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®) inject into the middle of your outer thigh (upper leg) (through clothing, if necessary). Get emergency medical help right away. You may need further medical attention. Only a health care professional should give additional doses of epinephrine if you need more than two injections for a single anaphylactic episode. DO NOT INJECT INTO YOUR VEINS, BUTTOCKS, FINGERS, TOES, HANDS OR FEET. In case of accidental injection, please seek immediate medical treatment. Epinephrine should be used with caution if you have heart disease or are taking certain medicines that can cause heart-related (cardiac) symptoms.

Tell your doctor if you have certain medical conditions such as asthma, depression, thyroid disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease, have any other medical conditions, are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Be sure to also tell your doctor all the medicines you take, especially medicines for asthma. If you have certain medical conditions, or take certain medicines, your condition may get worse or you may have longer lasting side effects when you use EpiPen® or EpiPen Jr®.

The most common side effects may include increase in heart rate, stronger or irregular heartbeat, sweating, nausea or vomiting, difficulty breathing, paleness, dizziness, weakness, shakiness, headache, apprehension, nervousness or anxiety. These side effects may go away if you rest. Tell your health care professional if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Please see the full Prescribing Information and Patient Information.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.
Visit or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

For additional information, please contact us at 800-395-3376.

All my best,
Maha Maturo

Auggie Maturo and his parents, Nina Garcia, and Amanda Freitag are paid spokespeople of Mylan.

Mylan is a financial sponsor of National NPA, and has been invited to submit a blog post as part of their engagement with PTA. National NPTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product, or service, and no endorsement is implied by this content.

EpiPen®, EpiPen Jr®, EpiPen 2-Pak® and EpiPen Jr 2-Pak®  are registered trademarks of Mylan Inc. licensed exclusively to its wholly-owned subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P. ON LOCATION™ is a trademark of Mylan Inc. Walt Disney World® Resort and Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival are registered trademarks of Disney. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2015 Mylan Specialty L.P. All rights reserved. EPI-2015-0467


Enjoy Your Time in Charlotte!

This year’s National PTA Convention & Expo will be held on June 25-28 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte is home to many cultural, entertaining and fun attractions for all ages. If you have some free time outside of #PTAconv15, take a cab or hop on the LYNX—it’s time to go on an excursion of the Queen City!

Photo Credit: by

Photo Credit: by

Racing Capital of the World
Charlotte is, of course, home of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. This exciting tourist hotspot offers artifacts and interactive exhibits of some of NASCAR’s greatest icons and original racing cars. Get a first-hand look at the Hall’s Racing Simulators and check out special events at the High Octane Theater. No stranger to life in the fast lane, the city is filled with other racing venues such as The Speedpark, the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience and Victory Lane Indoor Karting Center. Vroom vroom!

Outdoor Fun!
Take an outdoor tour at the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Discover the outdoors and agricultural heritage in the region. Charlotte also offers super fun segway tours, bicycle tours and walking ones, too. Explore around the city while riding one through the beautiful greenways and neighborhoods. There are also other unique tours such as Charlotte’s local history and ghost tour. Reserve a tour today!

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Arts & Culture
Care to spend time at a show or musical performance? The city’s vibrant arts and culture scene is growing and bustling with entertaining concerts, festivals and more. Check out ABC’s Dancing with the Stars Live! perform at Ovens Auditorium on June 28 and Discovery Place’s brand new GUITAR exhibit. There also museums that are worth your time, such as the Mint Museum Uptown, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and Levine Museum of the New South.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Kid-Friendly Entertainment
A PTA convention wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Carowind’s Amusement and Water Park. Visit Planet Snoopy, Dinosaurs Alive and some of the park’s most thrilling rollercoaster rides! You can also check out Children’s Theatre of Charlotte for family fun educational activities and bring reading to life at ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center!

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

Foodie Galore
If you’re getting hungry after all of this fun and excitement, be sure to check out downtown’s EpiCentre, offering a wide range of appetizing eateries and restaurants. Stop by one of Charlotte’s historic spots, the McNinch House, for a lovely treat. The menu has a variety of unique and beautiful dishes. Once an old, abandoned and worn-down building and now a beautiful, sophisticated hotspot for dining. Other options? Try one of Charlotte’s top 25 restaurants.

Find more things to do during your #PTAconv15 trip in Charlotte here.

Homepage photo credit:

Co-authored by National PTA’s digital communications specialist Catherine Llamido and media relations intern Jessica Burton.

ESEA Reauthorization Needs Stronger Family Engagement Provisions

Otha_Headshot_SMLast week, the education magazine Education Week published an article on the rise of family engagement as a priority for schools and districts across the country. The article spotlights states and districts in which family engagement initiatives are part of long-term, integrated and high-impact strategies to bolster student achievement. It is an important piece to help underscore the critical role family engagement and family-school partnerships play in children’s learning and growth. The article also is timely considering the pending reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB) and National PTA’s work to include stronger family engagement provisions in the bill.

One of PTA’s founding principles is its dedication to advocating for and engaging parents in the education of their children. The association firmly believes that family engagement is at the core of student success and school improvement.

ESEA/NCLB has been up for reauthorization since 2007. National PTA has consistently advocated for bipartisan reauthorization of the law and the inclusion of robust family engagement provisions. Currently, the U.S. Senate has a bipartisan reauthorization bill, the Every Child Achieves Act (S. 1177), that is expected to be debated and voted on in the next few weeks. At this time, the bill does not include critical improvements that prioritize family engagement.

More than 40 years of research shows – no matter a family’s income or socioeconomic background – family engagement in education is essential for student success. Students whose families are involved attend school more regularly, earn better grades, enroll in higher-level programs and have higher graduation rates.

Research also shows that family engagement is essential for school improvement as well as plays a key role in helping communities grow strong and thrive.

National PTA calls on the Senate to include provisions in the Every Child Achieves Act that would provide states and districts the capacity and necessary resources to support effective family engagement strategies in every school for every child and family.

As a parent and the leader of the nation’s oldest and largest child advocacy association, I have seen firsthand the positive impact of family engagement on school improvement and students’ academic achievement. I also have witnessed the ability of engaged families and schools to come together and make true, meaningful improvement at the local level. It is essential that the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB provide for family engagement as it is proven to make a difference for children, schools and communities.

We will need PTA advocates to gear up for action on the Senate floor to strengthen family engagement provisions. Stay tuned for more updates on the reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB through the One Voice Blog and by following @NationalPTA on Twitter.

Together, we can take action to help every child succeed academically and reach his or her full potential.

Otha Thornton is president of National PTA.

Wear Orange: First Annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day

National PTA staff members show their support for gun violence prevention by wearing orange apparel on June 2.

National PTA staff members show their support for gun violence prevention by wearing orange apparel on June 2.

Every student deserves to learn and grow in an environment that is safe. Sadly, the threat of violence for students – including gun violence – has grown across the country. To raise awareness of the issue and the importance of preventing and eliminating gun violence in schools and communities, June 2 marked the first annual National Gun Violence Awareness Day. As part of the day, people nationwide were encouraged to “Wear Orange” in support of gun violence prevention.

National PTA is committed to eliminating violence in schools, communities and at home. It is a top priority of the association to bring together parents, teachers, administrators, community leaders and elected officials to make meaningful changes and find the most effective ways to ensure that all students have a safe environment in which to thrive and learn.

To help prevent gun-related incidents, National PTA advocates for:

  • Ensuring gun safety locks and other safety devices are implemented at home;
  • Establishing education programs for teachers, parents and other community members about violence prevention and gun safety;
  • Restricting internet gun sales, including items that enhance and modify firearms;
  • Providing alternative educational settings for youth who have brought a firearm to school, along with appropriate evaluation and counseling;
  • Enforcing state and federal age requirements for handgun purchases;
  • Raising the minimum age to 21 to be allowed to buy a handgun from non-licensed dealers; and
  • Preventing juveniles who commit violent crimes from buying guns as adults.

In addition to the association’s support of National Gun Violence Awareness Day, National PTA has joined other organizations in supporting the ASK (Asking Saves Kids) Campaign. The campaign encourages families to be proactive and ask others if there is an unlocked gun in an area where their children play, which can help reduce the chances of gun-related accidents. Sunday, June 21 has been designated National ASK Day. National PTA urges families nationwide to join the association in spreading the ASK message on Facebook and Twitter.

National PTA also supports public policy solutions that prevent and address childhood exposure to violence and trauma. In the past year, National PTA contributed to the Safe, Healthy and Ready to Learn policy paper, led by Futures Without Violence, which outlined seven goals to help provide children an environment free of violence and trauma. The coalition examined research, consulted with experts across the country and convened a multi-disciplinary working group, of which National PTA participated, to develop a comprehensive set of seven recommendations designed to combat this silent epidemic.

The protection of students is of utmost importance. For ways PTAs can help prevent violence in schools and advocate for school safety click here.

Lindsay Kubatzky is a Government Affairs Coordinator for National PTA.

Student Data Privacy Legislation

shutterstock_163124264Many states have passed laws or introduced bills regarding this important issue for parents and kids.  Most of the laws and bills focus on third party vendor restrictions on using student data for commercial purposes, such as advertising to kids, selling data or creating non-education related profiles.  Typically, the burden of administering the privacy protections falls upon an education entity, such as a Department of Education or school district.  Challenges for education entities include limited resources or expertise for establishment of standards, administration and enforcement.

Oregon’s Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum submitted Senate Bill 187 and amendments modeled after a California law, which provides privacy protections for students, enforceable under Oregon’s unlawful business and trade practices laws.  The amendments place the compliance burden on “operators” of Internet websites, online services and/or online or mobile applications used for K-12 educational purposes.

Oregon PTA was one of the groups the Department of Justice reached out to regarding the proposal, and testified in support of the bill before the Senate Education Committee, and after the bill passed the Senate, the House Education Committee. Senate Bill 187A is scheduled for another hearing and possible work session on June 3.

Oregon PTA also participated as a member of a state level Student Data Privacy work group, and provided input regarding several bills sponsored by Rep. Lew Frederick.  We testified in support of the bills before the House Education Committee.

Learn more about Oregon’s bills on the Senate Bill 187A and House Committee on Education. You could also search your state legislature’s website to find legislative proposals related to student data privacy, or state and local educational entities’ website for opportunities to weigh in on this important issue.

Betty Reynolds, Ph.D. is the vice president for legislation at Oregon PTA.

Why We Need Dads

The following blog post was originally posted on the website for Westchester Magazine. To view the original article, click here.

Elijah-and-David-(1024x681)-(1024x681)Thirteen-year-old Donovan had always been a good student. But when he hit the seventh grade, his grades started slipping, and he began getting detentions. One day, his mother, who was raising her son alone after leaving an abusive marriage, received a call from his principal: Donovan had punched a classmate in the eye and was going to be suspended. Like many children without an actively engaged father or father figure, Donovan had begun tuning out—and acting up.

“Children who are well-bonded and loved and whose fathers are involved tend to have fewer behavioral problems, are more likely to have higher self-esteem, and develop better relationships both with their peers and romantically,” says psychotherapist Alison Varianides, executive director of Westchester Psychotherapy in Sleepy Hollow.

Study after study bears this out, and “when you look at the [academic] achievement measurements, you find in every study that when a male [parent or father figure] is actively engaged, those measuring sticks come out a little higher,” says Lex Kessler, male engagement chair for the Westchester-East Putnam Region (W-EPR) PTA.

According to research from the US Department of Education, children with actively involved fathers are 43 percent more likely to earn A’s in school and 33 percent less likely to repeat a grade than those without engaged dads. Other studies have shown that children with involved fathers graduate at higher rates, score higher on standardized tests, and have a more positive attitude towards school.

They’re also less likely to have problems with drugs or alcohol, and, according to a study published in the UK journal The Lancet in 2003, children of single-parent homes are more than twice as likely to commit suicide. According to the US Census Bureau, 90 percent of homeless children and runaways are from fatherless homes, and, according to the Center for Disease Control, 85 percent of kids who exhibit behavior disorders come from fatherless homes. Studies have also shown that kids with a positive father figure are 80 percent less likely to land in jail and 75 percent less likely to conceive a child outside of marriage. Even when a child is grown, having had an actively involved male figure during childhood continues to pay dividends, leading to higher levels of success in their careers; a better chance of having a strong, lasting marriage; and the ability to handle stress.

A Model Dad
Fathers influence their kids’ lives in many ways—first and foremost by being a role model. “The role of a father, especially when it comes to boys, is teaching what it means to be a man and providing a good, healthy model for the child,” says Bob Milich, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Croton-on-Hudson. “Somebody who can be effective at discipline, but not necessarily punishment—setting limits and being consistent in a warm, supportive manner.”

It is well known that a child, especially a son, will emulate and explore his father’s interests in things like sports teams and personal style. But Varianides believes a father’s greatest impact on his son’s life may be in the child’s emotional development. “Boys look to their fathers for how they share their emotions and what they should do in terms of masculinity,” she says.

Dr. Milich agrees. “A father’s role in teaching, especially boys, appropriate emotional expression is very important,” he says.

Likewise, “If you have a father who is not a good role model, then that is what a child will integrate,” says Dr. Milich. “They will follow in those steps.”  Alex Gonzales-Harsha, a Port Chester resident, former Somers High School student, and Cornell graduate who is now in graduate school at Rutgers, says that a father who’s a great role model “leaves no doubt in your mind that you can also become a good man, and also leaves no doubt that he will support you along the way.”

A father can be very involved in his child’s life, even if he doesn’t live under the same roof, as in the case of divorced parents. “As a divorced parent that has a successful co-parenting relationship with my ex-husband, I see how having my son’s father as an active and involved dad truly benefits my son,” says Antoinette Darden-Cintron, W-ERP PTA region director, whose 13-year-old son, Elijah, is a student at Woodlands Middle School in Greenburgh.  “My son is well-rounded, smart, fun, and a great student. Having his father involved in his school life is integral to his development.”

But what about fathers who are abusive or neglectful, or divorced mothers who don’t have such cordial relationships with their ex-husbands? “I would say it is better for a child to not have a father figure at all rather than a negative one,” says Varianides. “While the absence of something leaves you questioning and trying to figure out how you’re supposed to create these relationships and roles, that’s better than growing up in an abusive household or having a father with substance abuse [problems]. Growing up with that can lead to a host of issues.”

Daddys’ Girls
A father’s job as role model for his children is not limited to his son, says Kessler. “A father is just as important in a daughter’s life.”

Girls look to their fathers for protection, and also to see how a man should treat a woman, according to Varianides. “The first relationship they see is Mom and Dad. If a young girl sees her father always being respectful of her mother, always being there and loving her, then she will want that in a relationship as well,” she says. “But if she grows up without a father figure, she’s left to figure it out on her own and may end up in an abusive relationship because she doesn’t know what a good one looks like.”

Kessler concurs: “Even prior to kindergarten, the father is providing that role model of a healthy, loving, respectful relationship that a woman will be searching for later in life.”

What Makes Men Different?
“There is an emotional difference in the way fathers parent,” says Stacey Slater, a child psychologist in Chappaqua. “They often have a more matter-of-fact approach” than mothers. This is why fathers tend to hold children to limits and often play the role of disciplinarian.

“The father’s ability to build character and model character traits [can be] different than the mother’s. In most relationships, the father and mother have complementary character traits,” says Kessler. “Males are generally a little more black-and-white and women are a lot more in the gray.”

Ultimately, it’s the partnership of the mother and father that can have the strongest effect. “When a father is involved in a child’s education, even just to the extent of saying, ‘How’d you do on the test?’ at the dinner table, those children will do better in school,” says Kessler. “This is a scientific fact that’s been proven and re-proven.”

Today’s Dads
According to a 2011 Census Bureau report, only 20 percent of American households were married couples with children, down from approximately 25 percent in 2000 and 43 percent in 1950. These days, kids may have a stay-at-home dad, a single dad, two full-time working parents, or a stepdad. Or a child may have two dads. “American families are changing so much that kids are looking to both of their parents [equally] now for how they should develop and what roles they should have,” says Varianides. “Fathers are becoming as involved and as important a part of everyday family life as mothers.”

It’s a whole different dynamic, according to Kessler. “Now I’ve got two parents both involved. That’s a huge statement, rather than,  ‘one of my parents cares and one doesn’t.’”

David Neilsen is a PTA dad.