There is a crisp breeze coming through my windows today, and the last ofleaves are slowing drifting off the trees……autumn is most certainly here. This is most definitely my favorite time of the year! Harvest season, and especially Thanksgiving, holds special childhood memories for me. Growing up as the daughter of an Arkansas farmer, I learned a greater appreciation for this time of the year. On many a Thanksgiving holidays, my father left the table to return to the field—there were soybeans yet to harvest.  At our Thanksgiving table, we gave thanks not only for our family, but also for a bountiful harvest.

During the next few days, as you reflect on your many blessings, I have a question for you to consider. Are we thankful for our beloved association, for PTA? Our families are what we are most thankful for, of course, but in our everyday lives, we each volunteer a good deal of time and energy to the causes of education, our communities’ schools, and PTA.

Are we thankful for PTA?

Are we thankful for the dream of a few to make a significant difference in the welfare of this nation’s children in a time when women did not even have the right to vote? The National Congress of Mothers put into motion an organization that 115 years later is recognized as the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the United States. We have a rich heritage of advocacy and more importantly, a history of success.

Today, our voice is 5 million strong. We are active in the halls in Congress and in state houses across this country. We can be found at school board and community meetings raising our voices on behalf of those who have no voice. But are we thankful?

There is a quote that perfectly sums up how I feel about this incredible association. It is one that most of you are very familiar with: “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove….but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” Making a difference for our children—all children—deeply matters to me, and PTA has given me the training, support, and opportunities to fulfill my passion. Am I thankful for PTA? Most definitely!

Over the next few days and weeks as we are busy with holiday preparations, let us give real thought to why we believe in this association. Please take a few moments out of your busy schedule and put those thoughts into words. It is important that as we count our many blessings, we remember to think about the intangible things in our lives that make a difference.  PTA makes a difference each and every day, and you drive the possibility of that difference!

May you and your families enjoy a bountiful Thanksgiving! You are a blessing to the millions of children across this nation and around the world.

Never forget—you are their voice.

Healthy Lifestyles Month Helps Our Nation Get Active and Eat Healthier One PTA at a Time

Healthy Lifestyles Month Helps Our Nation Get Active and Eat Healthier One PTA at a Time
By Betsy Landers

It is November… Happy PTA Healthy Lifestyles Month! November signifies a special time of year for PTAs across the country as tens of thousands of students and families participate in the launch year-round efforts to promote good nutrition and physical activity.

Why is this important? Statistics show that childhood obesity continues to grow and one in three children is overweight. Also, research shows that a child’s physical well-being has a significant effect on their learning. So we are proud of all the PTAs and school communities that are making child health and wellness a priority.

With the help of Malt-O-Meal, a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA and the sole sponsor of National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Program, we presented 10 PTAs with grants of up to $1,000 in funding to engage families, teachers, administrators and students in creative programs that encourage the school community to be active and eat healthier. Don’t worry, if you didn’t have a chance to submit an application for a grant this year, all PTAs will have a chance to apply for a grant next year but don’t wait until then to get your PTA active and eating healthy.

Is your PTA doing anything to help promote physical activity and healthy eating? Share photos, videos and messages with us on our Facebook page or Tweet us on Twitter. Let’s show the country that we are building healthy communities one PTA at a time!

Help us keep families moving and healthy. Keep up the great work!

Aunt Bebe is working for you…

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National Call-In Day: I’ve Called, Have You?

Today, parents, family members, teachers, and champions of children everywhere are urging Congress to invest in family engagement for student achievement as part of the National Call-In Day for Parental Information and Resource Center (PIRC) Funding.

I know … in between work, soccer practice, piano lessons, homework, work, (did I mention work) and everything else under the sun, it’s sometimes hard to find the time to participate in action alerts.  I’ve been there, reading the email on my BlackBerry, thinking to myself “I should call,” and meaning (but failing) to take action.   I’m here to tell you that your voice is needed today, more than ever.   Congress is making some tough decisions, and as we are  all well aware, Capitol Hill is tightening its belt.  We must ensure that belt-tightening doesn’t happen at the expense of children.

Why is your call important?

Everyone agrees – family and parent involvement is key to student success.   Believe it or not, PIRCs are the ONLY federal program dedicated to increasing family engagement in education.  In other wordsthe 62 PIRCs, which operate in every state and US territory, comprise the only program infrastructure for assisting local school districts and state educational agencies in building capacity to meaningfully engage parents. They often serve in the poorest and lowest-performing districts where family engagement is traditionally lacking.  All school districts are required to comply with sections of No Child Left Behind that mandate parental involvement, yet many districts struggle to do so.  This is where PIRCs come in – supporting activities like teacher and school staff training in family engagement and cultural competencies, parent leadership academies, and technical assistance in implementing research-based policies and practices to increase family engagement.

The status quo—where  meaningful family engagement and two-way communication between schools and parents exists only in select school districts—is  not acceptable.  Family engagement is key, not only to turning around struggling schools, but also to ensuring that every student reaches his or her academic potential. We MUST safeguard funding to increase capacity for family engagement as Congress reauthorizes (or “fixes”) NCLB, or we stand the very real chance of losing federal support for this work entirely.   PIRCs are the vehicle by which we must fight for the cause of family engagement, as the future of this line item in reauthorization relies heavily on our ability to secure FY2012 PIRC funding.

PTA is the nation’s oldest and largest child advocacy group.  Our motto of “every child, one voice” means that we champion all children – especially those who have no parent voice of their own.   While your son or daughter’s school might not be the direct beneficiary of PIRC services and programming, chances are there is a school nearby that is – or one that could greatly benefit from programs designed to engage parents and families.  Every child deserves a champion; — at home and in the classroom!

Join with me and thousands of other advocates  in fighting for every child with one voice – Call your members of Congress TODAY!

National PTA—a Commitment to Building Healthy Families

Malt-O-Meal – just the name brings wonderful memories of warm breakfasts on cold winter mornings! From our memories as children to raising our own children, Malt-O-Meal has been a part of our lives, which is why it is exciting for me as National PTA president to announce our new partnership with Malt-O-Meal as a sponsor for our National PTA’s Healthy Lifestyles Grant Program!

We all know that children are ready to learn when they are well-rested, well-nourished and physically fit.  Malt-O-Meal joins National PTA in our commitment to building healthy families and helping educate parents and students on the importance of eating healthy and staying active.  Along with Malt-O-Meal’s support, we are excited to launch another year of our Healthy Lifestyles program and to be able to offer grants to schools for programs that help promote better nutrition and increased physical activity.  Through our Healthy Lifestyles program, your PTA can apply for grants up to $1,000 to help support programs that can have a long-term impact on students and families, as well as promote family engagement.

Yes, it is definitely a natural fit – National PTA and Malt-O-Meal – because of their focus on providing access to a nutritious breakfast for all families and their commitment to helping make our planet a healthier place for us all.

Plan to celebrate Healthy Lifestyles Month in November and be sure to visit  to learn more about best practices and how to apply for your grant. Your PTA could be one of this year’s grant recipients!