Why Teachers Deserve Our Praise and Our Support

This week has been designated Teacher Appreciation Week, in honor of teachers and the important contributions they make to ensure every child succeeds in school and beyond.

While our public education system has changed a lot over the years, two factors remain—teachers are essential to student growth and achievement, and it is vital that they have our support.

Check out the infographic below on teachers and the importance of family engagement in education and family-school partnerships. Don’t forget to visit PTA.org/ThankATeacher for additional resources.

2015 TAW_Infographic_v6

Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.

New Resource for Parents on Student Data Privacy

privacy-header-cropTechnology and the Internet have created countless new opportunities for learning. Students can now read about virtually any subject from anywhere and can connect with people and places around the world. Teachers are harnessing the power of the technology to bring curriculum alive and modify instruction to meet the unique needs of every child.

With the advent of increasingly innovative ways to learn, National PTA believes that making learning via technology and the Internet safe for students should be a top priority. Toward the end of 2014, National PTA became involved in identifying best practices for safeguarding and managing student data and ensuring parents have appropriate notification and consent as to what and how children’s data is collected and used.

As part of its efforts, National PTA has collaborated with the Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely to develop a free, digital guide to help parents understand the laws that protect student data as well as students’ and parents’ rights under the laws.

Among the information provided, the guide answers the following questions:

  • Who has access to personal information about my child?
  • What is the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and when does it apply to information from students?
  • When do I have the choice to “opt-out” of my child’s information being shared?
  • How do I gain access, make corrections or request deletions to my child’s data?

Schools have always held a wide range of data about children and families. Name, address, names of parents or guardians, date of birth, grades, attendance, disciplinary records, eligibility for lunch programs, special needs and the like are all necessary for basic administration and instruction. Teachers and school officials use this information for lots of reasons, including to assess how well students at a school are progressing, how effective teachers are at teaching, and how well a school performs compared to other schools. State departments of education also collect and aggregate data to help guide policy decisions and plan budgets.

Guaranteeing the effective use of students’ information while keeping this information protected remains paramount.

To download the guide and learn more about privacy rights for students and parents, visit ferpasherpa.org.

Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.

Celebrating PTA Family Reading Experience During National Reading Month

Copyright 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios

Copyright 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios

March is National Reading Month, a time to celebrate the importance of reading, foster children’s growth as readers and inspire a lifelong love of literature.

In celebration of National Reading Month, National PTA and Amazon hosted a PTA Family Reading Experience, Powered by Kindle event at Strathmore Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md.

During the event, National PTA President-Elect Laura Bay announced the great news that 1,000 Kindles will be donated to PTAs across the country in low-income schools where 40% or more of enrolled students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. She then introduced Kwame Alexander, author of The Crossover and recipient of the 2015 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award, who shared his own experiences reading with his family and why he feels it is so important for students to connect with loved ones through books.

Families also participated in fun, interactive activities highlighting and reinforcing core skills of literacy—phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, comprehension and vocabulary—using both physical books and Kindle e-books.

Copyright 2015 Lifetouch National School Studios

Special thanks to Strathmore Elementary School Principal Tivinia Nelson and PTA leaders in Maryland for coordinating the event: Ray Leone, Maryland State PTA President; Frances Frost, Montgomery County PTA Council President; Laura Miller, Strathmore PTA President/Bel Pre PTA Vice President; and Brenda Quinlisk, Bel Pre PTA President/Strathmore PTA Vice President.

In addition to the PTA Family Reading Experience event at Strathmore Elementary School, author Kwame Alexander worked with Amazon Kindle to conduct a satellite media tour, during which he was interviewed by radio and TV stations across the country about the importance of family reading and the PTA Family Reading Experience program. Watch an interview that aired on WTVR-TV in Richmond, Va. and an interview that aired on WTVW-TV in Evansville, Ind.

For more information about the PTA Family Reading Experience program and the application process to receive a set of Kindles, visit PTA.org/familyreading.

You can also view photos from this event on our PTA Flickr.

Heidi May Wilson is the media relations manager at National PTA.

National PTA Advocates on Capitol Hill for Family Engagement and Reauthorization of the ESEA

National PTA President Otha Thornton discusses the association’s recommendations for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

National PTA President Otha Thornton discusses the association’s recommendations for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).

National PTA’s 2015 Legislative Conference brought together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country March 10-12 to discuss PTA’s public policy priorities and actively advocate for the education, health and welfare of every child. As part of the conference, National PTA President Otha Thornton brought the voice of millions of parents, teachers, students and families to Capitol Hill, meeting with Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA), two key Congressional leaders.

Senator Alexander is Chairman of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) and is working to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/No Child Left Behind (ESEA/NCLB), a key legislative priority of National PTA, with Senator Murray, Ranking Member of the Senate HELP Committee. During the meetings, President Thornton discussed National PTA’s recommendations for reauthorization of the law, specifically, improvements that prioritize family engagement and address the needs of our nation’s most vulnerable children.

More than 200 state and local PTA volunteers also met with their Congressional leaders to discuss key issues impacting our nation’s children, including the importance of family engagement in education and comprehensive reauthorization of the ESEA/NCLB.

In addition to meeting with Congressional leaders, participants in this year’s Legislative Conference heard from Roberto J. Rodríguez, Deputy Assistant to the President for Education, and John King, Senior Advisor Delegated Duties of Deputy Secretary of Education. Attendees also participated in interactive workshops and skill-building trainings on a variety of topics, including ESEA/NCLB reauthorization, family engagement, student data privacy, juvenile justice and delinquency prevention, early childhood education, school safety and school nutrition.

The Legislative Conference and meetings on Capitol Hill were an important opportunity to speak up and advocate for the children National PTA serves. They demonstrated the essential role PTA and families play in supporting schools and student success as well as the association’s commitment to work at every level to improve education for all students and ensure every child has the opportunity to reach his or her full potential.

Heidi May Wilson is media relations manager for National PTA.