As a Fan of Golf, I’ve gone to Heaven!

Earlier this week, I had the privilege to attend an event hosted through the Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) which honored the late Payne Stewart. Anyone who has observed the game of golf for some time can remember Payne as a member of the PGA family who respected not only the game, but honored his family, his faith and his community.

As a much younger golf fan, I admired Payne’s commitment, his flair for life and his dress code. Following his passing, the PGA and the Payne Stewart Foundation established the Payne Stewart Award which is given annually to a member of the PGA family who represents the ideals of respect, tradition, heritage and charity.

During the awards event I had the opportunity to meet PGA greats like Nick Price, Jay Haas (from my home town of Greenville), Ernie Els, Hal Sutton, Brad Faxon, Kenny Perry and this year’s recipient Tom Lehman. I felt like a kid in a candy store! Beyond those moments of excitement I realized that PTA has an opportunity, to recognize the talents and dedication of male role models throughout our nation.

As part of his acceptance of this year’s honor, Tom Lehman said he had two heroes in his life; his wife and his father. Afterwards I told Mr. Lehman that he and I shared one common belief, our hero’s!

If you’re a dad; granddad; uncle or male role model, you’re a future hero. Take today’s opportunity to make sure the children in your life today see you as a hero tomorrow. Get engaged!

Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors,
National PTA President

A Personal Plea to Get Involved

The value of being an involved parent often comes in the form of smiles and hugs from your children. They show their appreciation for your involvement readily. Your involvement, even at the most basic level, demonstrates how much you care and that caring can produce a tremendous impact that extends beyond your kids.

I wish I could claim my presence as a chaperone on a field trip made the difference between David getting an A in some class rather than a B. I can’t. But I can say that my involvement in his and his brother’s school contributes to their positive attitudes about school. A positive attitude makes homework more tolerable and promotes a relaxed learning environment.

What I’ve also discovered is that I provide this support and uplift not just for my sons but the other children as well. Some of my children’s classmates lack a significant father figure. I fill that role even if it is just for a short time. The involvement of my wife and I inside and outside the classroom helps ensure students receive the attention and guidance they need and deserve.

Parent involvement helps the teachers, too. We all know they have a demanding job. Volunteers free teachers to do more. And teachers become motivated when they know parents care. That benefits the entire class.

I don’t speak only from experience. The importance of parent involvement is backed by research. A 2010 University of Chicago study identifies parent involvement as one of the five “key ingredients” for school improvement in low-income, urban schools. Other research clearly shows that when families are involved in their children’s learning, both at home and at school, their children do better academically.

Perhaps the biggest impact family involvement can have is that it often expands. I chaperoned one field trip and the next thing I knew I was coaching a girls basketball team. I made these commitments without hesitating. Sure, I’m as busy as any other working parent. But I find the time in my family’s schedule. It’s almost miraculous how the timing always seems to work out.

Unfortunately, men are underrepresented when it comes to getting involved in their children’s schools. That is changing. But it needs to change more. National PTA’s Million Hours of Power campaign aims to build on this momentum. We want at least 350,000 men to volunteer at least three hours service to children—in school, at community events, wherever men feel comfortable volunteering to help children. To help us reach that goal, we are pursuing a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh campaign. The top two vote-getters this month earn the grants.

We’ve moved up about 60 spots in the rankings for the Pepsi Rrefresh $250,000 grants and have already logged thousands of hours toward the Million Hours of Power. We need your help to reach these two goals.

We tend to see only our children. We miss the world of their peers and how the connections between our kids, their friends, their teachers, and the school weave together to form the complex tapestry that is your child’s educational experience.
So if you care about your kids…
If you care about their friends and classmates…
If you care about their teachers…
If you care about the state of education in America…
Then vote in the Pepsi Refresh campaign so PTA can put tools in place to help men get more involved. One man contributing three volunteer hours this year will produce positive results that resonate throughout the classroom, the school, the community.

Dad, Does Superman Exist?

Dad, Does Superman Exist?

Last night (September 15th) I had the opportunity to join several hundred government, education and community leaders in the DC area at the Red Carpet Premiere of “Waiting for Superman”, a documentary on the state of education in the United States. I didn’t sleep well afterwards. The message of this film kept running through my mind.

The film talks about several of the challenges that face public education, what should take place to correct these challenges and highlights some successful practices in communities related to educational environments, like charter schools. More importantly, this film shows viewers the challenging stories of five students (and their families) who want to attend a high quality school. It is a blunt, to the point film that calls it like it is; which I like!

Now you are probably asking, “What kept me awake last night?” Easy, the stories of these students and more specifically why their families are placed in such a position that they are pinning their educational hopes on a lottery, not for money but for one seat in a school that will provide a quality education.

I also fought in my mind the question of, “What does a quality teacher look like?” That’s not easy to address because it is a tough question. First, anyone who is willing to serve as a teacher should be respected for their desire to help children succeed; but teaching is a profession and not a job. There is no time clock, the production line is a mind; a child’s future. Second, not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. That’s just a fact of life, so what do we do to address that issue? Pay for performance? Eliminate tenure where it exists? Do teachers unions help or hurt? And more importantly, “When will parents get off the couch and get engaged in the conversation?”

PTA has long been the leader in helping see that teachers and schools have the resources they need to be successful, but even with millions of members there are still millions more who don’t care or don’t believe they have the time to get engaged in this conversation. Why? More specifically, “What are we going to do to get these parents involved in the conversation?”

The rules must change! Our elected officials need to step up and provide the regulatory support, not just the funds, for school districts to attract the best teachers; and deal with those who should explore a job elsewhere. We should pay quality teachers a salary commensurate with quality performance. We should also have a school building that is safe, secure, healthy and technologically equipped to meet the needs of students today. No parent should be placed in a position of passing three public schools (that they see as failing) to enroll their children in a private school. That itself sends a sad message. So what is it going to take? When are our parents, and others, going to get off the couch?

My first suggestion is to see this film when it arrives in your community. If you leave the theater without a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you have bigger issues to address. And more importantly, begin frank discussion with all stakeholders about how we provide every child with a quality education.

This film should touch your heart and more especially, make you think. The time has arrived for parents and the broader public to ask these critical questions. The time is now to get off the couch and stop waiting for Superman?

Check to see when “Waiting for Superman” opens in a theater near you.

Yours in PTA!
Chuck Saylors
National PTA President

How Dad Is Involved

Welcome to back to school time. I love the fall of the year. The weather is great (even better when you can drive a convertible), you can sleep with the windows open at night and then there’s FOOTBALL! Not pro, I’m talking High School and College. This past week Tyler (14), William (11), my wife Teresa and I attended one of our neighborhood’s longest standing rivalry games; Eastside High (blue) and Wade Hampton High (red/white). As a way of background, our two oldest (Matthew and Jennifer) attended Eastside and our two youngest will attend Wade Hampton, talk about a house divided…

Now how does this tie into Dads, Grandfathers, Uncles or any male role model supporting a student’s “back to school” adventure? Simple, you’re together!

Study after study show that when one parent is engaged in a child’s education that child is successful but when both parents are engaged that same student is even more successful.

For years we have heard from the male role models in a child’s life that “I’m not so sure I have the time to volunteer . . .” Well, has PTA got a plan for you!

This year the National PTA launched “The Million Hours of Power” campaign where we are asking 350,000 men to offer a minimum of three hours of volunteer time for their child’s school, or a local school in your neighborhood. Even if you do not have a child in school you can still take part. Now I can hear it from here, “I’m not sure I can give three hours?” OK, so let me ask you two simple questions. 1) Can you leave home go to a movie and return in less than 180 minutes? and 2) Can you at least give it a try? We’re only talking about 3 hours for the entire school year. Not 3 hours a week or a month, the entire year.

Through the “Million Hours of Power” PTA is planning to highlight new and exciting opportunities, and ideas, for getting more men engaged. It’s that simple! Can we count on you? PTA has incredible opportunities for all families; in this case we need every interested man to get engaged.

Take a minute and visit pta.org and see what the “Million Hours of Power” campaign provides. While on the computer please take an additional moment and go to the Pepsi Refresh Project and vote for the “Million Hours of Power”

As we move into this school year take a few minutes for your child and their education. I can assure you that it is time well spent!

PTA and Arts in Education Week

Well, I am guessing by now we have all returned to school and the summer break has come to an end. I know that here in the Saylors household my two sons are excited to get back with their friends.

As we start this new school year we will be honoring a number of mile stones in education.

The first is “Arts in Education Week” which will be held on the week of September 12-18, 2010. This is a new recognition program within our schools and was sponsored by Representative Jackie Speier of CA, along with over 100 co-sponsors in Congress. The rally came from PTA friend and Broadway legend Carol Channing who has been working to see that the Arts are still honored throughout our country, and our schools. Carol, along with her husband Harry, were with state and national PTA leaders at our recent National Governance Retreat where they both spoke on the importance of arts in education.
(Dr. Carol Channing and husband Harry addressing National Governance Retreat Aug. 2010)
Our friends at the Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) have also joined the cause making this a global event. Alice Hixson, Hope Matthews and Jim Hashman are all leading the charge around the globe to help see that the children of our service personnel are involved as well.

We all know that studying the arts; visual, music or written; is a great way to help increase critical thinking in our students. Skills like problem solving and creativity are all connected to the arts, so why not support this cause? This is why PTA is so appreciative of the efforts of Representative Speier and Dr. Channing for keeping the subject of arts in education alive.

Take a look at this exciting video, Dr. Channing and her friends put together to support arts in education

Carol Channing & Friends for the Arts – ChanningArts.org

As we start “Arts in Education Week” please help us make sure that every student has the Arts as part of their educational experience. Start now planning your Reflections program. Start planning today and above all, have fun!