Let’s all Connect for Respect and Put a Stop to Bullying

As the parent of four, with two sons still in middle school, I have seen firsthand how bullying can hurt our students. For my wife, Teresa, and I this issue started with our youngest experiencing illness at home and school every day. He would wake up each day physically ill, not wanting to go to school, this coming from a child who was rarely ill and loved school. We started digging down and discovered that both of our sons had experienced being bullied.

Bullying has led to so many tragedies. We have seen news accounts where students have taken their own lives because they were bullied by others. Bullying causes so many issues; bad grades, health issues, self esteem issues; all harmful and negative for our children.

PTA members, parents and caregivers must get engaged in this conversation. We must help our children understand why these actions are wrong. We must help teachers and school administrators know that we will support their efforts in the school to combat issue. This is not a “kids will be kids” issue, this is serious! Kids are hurting kids and it must stop.

That’s why we’re proud to announce today the launch of a new bullying prevention campaign, called Connect for Respect. PTAs everywhere have supported bullying prevention for years and today, with this campaign, we are reaffirming our commitment to the cause.

We announced the launch of this initiative in a news release this morning, as well as during our participation today in the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention. It is our hope that PTAs across the country will get involved in raising awareness about this important issue with the parents, children and families they serve.

Through this initiative, PTAs can get involved by:
1. Hosting a Connect for Respect event in their communities and sharing resources with parents about bullying.
2. Encouraging parents to talk to their child about bullying and to advocate for policies and practices that will create a safe school climate for all children.
3.Providing resources for parents and PTAs to get involved. PTA has created five tip sheets to increase parents’ understanding of bullying, how to prevent it, and how to recognize if your child is the bully. PTA has also created some “how to” materials to support our PTAs in planning their own Connect for Respect event.

Please join us in this effort and don’t wait until this happens to your family. Visit www.PTA.org/bullying to help put a stop to bullying!

National PTA rolls out Parents’ Guide to Student Success

Advocacy can sometimes prove to be a challenge. Many say they don’t have the time, some just do not understand why. Then there is the PTA; an Association of parents, teachers, administrators and communities working to improve the educational experience of our students. Common Core State Standards has been an initiative of the PTA for more than a year now and it has taken our advocacy efforts to a new level.

For example, this week National PTA rolled out the Parents’ Guide to Student Success. Individual guides have been created for parents, in both English and Spanish, for grades K-8 and two for grades 9-12; one for English language arts/literacy and one for mathematics. Eleven Guides in all.

These Guides help parents better understand what their children should be learning in English language arts and math in each grade after their state implements the standards. At this writing more than 40 states have already adopted the standards. Although the standards will take some time to be fully implemented in most places (1-3 years), the time to act is now for PTA leaders.

The Guides are a powerful advocacy tool that State and Local PTA Presidents can use to partner with their state departments of education and their school districts to ensure that parents are knowledgeable about the standards and can support their implementation. With this tool, PTAs can stand ready to work with their education administrators to develop a plan to share the Parent Guides with parents in their communities once the standards are in place.

As a parent, I know these guides will be helpful to me once the standards are implemented in my home state. Not only will they help me know what to expect my child to learn, but will help me know what the most important topics my boys will learn about in each grade.

You can find the guides and more information about the Common Core State Standards at PTA.org/parentsguides.

Charles J. “Chuck” Saylors is the President of National PTA.