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Monday, March 15, 2010

A Conference Success



Well, the National PTA 2010 Legislative Conference is now in the history books and what an event to remember.

As you know, we were honored to have our First Lady, Michelle Obama, join us to talk about children’s health and her “Let’s Move” campaign. The delegates in attendance took her message to heart about a healthier lifestyle, one that I would hope anyone could embrace. In addition to this special moment in time, PTA members were able to hear from leaders in various fields regarding Common Core Standards, the Child Nutrition Act and ESEA re-authorization.

More importantly, this conference is an opportunity for your voices to be heard by our decision makers in Congress. It was remarkable to walk through the halls of the House and Senate office buildings and see so many PTA advocates. One of the key strengths of PTA is our collective voices; a fact that was noticed by the Congressional members who took the time to meet with PTA leaders.

Regardless of anyone’s political points of view, PTA is seen as a voice for reason; one that all elected officials should respect. Case in point is a statement made by Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY). During an awards ceremony during the conference where Senator Enzi and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) were both recognized for their leadership on children’s issues, Senator Enzi stated “When he was alive, Ted Kennedy was rated as the most liberal member of the Senate. During that same time, I was rated as the most conservative. Now, if Ted Kennedy and I can work closely together, anyone can.”

A perfect point! Working together is an important task. One that PTA will continue to encourage as we face the tough conversations on the tough issues of today.

Our thanks to the National PTA Staff and Legislative Committee for making our 2010 Conference such a tremendous success!

Until next time.
Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors- president, National PTA

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

We need Statesmen, not Politicians!


I have a pop quiz for you! Name one community that is not facing serious funding issues with their educational system?

Educational funding is the focus of the day. As parents, teachers, administrators, school board members and supporters of education, we all share a common concern, when will the bleeding stop?

When we band together and seek support from our decision makers, usually those who serve in our state legislatures, we receive little comfort. In most cases we hear our elected leaders say “I don’t know what to do.” They say we have no money, yet they continue to fund local projects or cut taxes even more. An example from my state of South Carolina, a short time ago the state legislature traded a property tax source for a penny sales tax increase. This legislation, called Act 388, has been a disaster for education. School districts have suffered several multi-million dollar hits to our budget which, left un-addressed, will eventually have a painful impact on the classroom.

When we try to resolve these issues with the decision makers in our state capitals, we usually hear, “we need to use all available funds for economic development.” What in the world is a high quality learning environment? Is it not seen as economic development?

You’ve probably heard me say this before, but . . .

When a business looks to build in a community, its leadership looks at the schools and roads. If both are not top quality they look elsewhere. Employers know that their employees are going to look for the best schools. They are going to look for a school that is safe; secure; healthy; technologically equal and modern; an environment that helps make learning fun and successful. That’s economic development. Support schools and support growth.

Now, how does this tie into the title? The answer is easy. For far too many years we have been forced to elect politicians who choose to ignore the toughest issues of today. They would rather point fingers, and blame. Long gone are the days when we elected elder statesmen who would find solutions, not excuses. We, as parents and community supporters of education, need to start today in finding those who will take on the hard topics of today and deal with them. We need to elect officials who care more about dealing with problems head-on and not the next election or fund-raiser. Until we collectively address these issues year after year we’re going to see education take a back seat to other interests. If left un-addressed everyone will suffer.

Find a statesman!

Until next time,
Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors- president, National PTA

Thursday, February 18, 2010

PTA Founders Day and Black History



February is the month set aside to recognize the contributions of African Americans.

Those contributions have and continue to impact National Parent Teachers Association, too.

Adding to history, on February 17, 1897 the journey to be a voice for children began in Washington, DC. Two hundred people were expected, yet over two thousand showed up for the very first meeting to establish National Congress of Mothers, which would later become known as National Parent Teacher Association.

Fast forward to May 7, 1926, Selena Sloan Butler, an African-American teacher and wife of a prominent physician, founded the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers. Selena Sloan Butler was elected the first president of NCCPT, whose function was to organize and operate only in states where separate schools for the races were maintained. This was dictated by individual state laws, not by PTA Bylaws. These state laws prevented African-American communities from belonging to the larger, older association.

After schools across the country were no longer legally separated, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers and the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers unified as the national PTA on June 22, 1970 in Atlanta, Georgia,

Almost 27 years later in June 1997, Lois Jean White was installed as the first African-American President of the National PTA. She realized that many people weren’t a part of the association because they didn’t know enough about the association. I think that is just as true today, especially for people of color.

It is time to tell our story, to refocus on the vision and contributions of Selena Sloan Butler that will make us more inclusive of the children, families, schools and communities that we serve. Our children are depending on us.
Dee Jones, National PTA Diversity Chair
Guest Blogger

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

A Parent's Voice and ESEA


ESEA? What’s that?

Ever heard of “No Child Left behind”? This legislation is officially known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and it’s up for re-authorization in Congress; a valuable opportunity for parents, teachers, administrators and communities to share their thoughts and concerns with members of Congress in an effort to improve student achievement through innovation and policy improvement.

Now, re-authorization does not simply mean re-approving the existing law(s). Under the NCLB title this legislation was given a massive facelift during its last re-authorization, changes that caused concerns with school districts and parents nationwide.

PTA is working with members of Congress to strengthen ESEA, not to rubber stamp it. As a local school board trustee in South Carolina, I have seen, first hand, how the current legislation calls for a series of mandated policies or programs with little to no funding. PTA is working to address not only funding concerns, but issues around parent involvement, teacher recruitment and overall accountability.

Today, we’re asking that you get involved. We will not have the opportunity to have an open and meaningful discussion on excessive testing; narrowing funding; teacher support; and parent involvement unless our members of Congress hear from us, the voters! Please join PTA in making sure that our children have the tools to succeed, that our teachers have the support they need to be innovative and that our administrators have the funding to guarantee all of our expectations are met.

All of this requires your voice, and the voices of your friends, families and neighbors.

Please help us help our schools. Join the conversation!

Until next time,
Charles J. "Chuck" Saylors- president, National PTA

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

New Years and New Approaches


Welcome to 2010!

Now, be honest, how many of you have already broken at least one of your New Year’s Resolutions? I resolved this year not to make a resolution that was easy to break!

I resolved to 1) learn to tie my bow ties for myself, 2) work on improving my poker game, 3) play golf more often, 4) stop eating French Fries (which will be tough) and 5) walk more (had to do something healthy besides stop eating the fries).

One easy resolution that we all should remember is asking one person to join PTA.

Membership campaigns should be a year-round effort. PTA has built its history, and reputation, on the many voices speaking as one for all students. Yet, we see so many that are not part of the family. Are your neighbors members? How about your school board members? Does your school have 100% teacher membership? If you’re in a middle school, junior high or high school; how many of your students are members?

I find it impossible to believe that we each do not know at least one person we can recruit that is currently not a PTA member.

I can hear it now. I don’t have kids in school, why should I join PTA? Why not? When schools succeed, children succeed. When schools succeed, communities succeed. When businesses see this success they are more often willing to invest in that community. The tax base grows and everyone sees success, and that’s just one talking point.

By the way, Mom, is Dad a member?

Please join us by helping secure one new PTA member as your New Year's Resolution. Good things will happen.

Until next time!
Charles “Chuck” Saylors
President, National PTA

Monday, January 04, 2010

Reaching Out To America in a New Way!


In 2007 the National PTA Board of Directors authorized the formation of a National PTA Advisory Board. The charge was to assemble a group of talented, energetic and knowledgeable individuals from corporate America and the area of public service to help PTA expand on all levels. This Board was to be comprised of 15 individuals, along with the three National PTA Officers, and chaired by the National PTA President-Elect.

Well, we’re proud to say that the dream has become a reality. Hosted by our friends at Viacom in late 2009, the first meeting of the Advisory Board was held in New York City. To say that there was energy in the room would be an understatement. Representatives from the media industry, Old Navy, Target, Viacom, Jamba Juice, Aetna, The Parenting Group, the Tommy Hilfiger Foundation, V2cigs, Vapor Couture, Blu Cigs in McGraw Hill, and Verizon addressed everything from communications to membership to non-dues revenue to strategic planning; it was indeed a great time together.

PTA wants to thank our Advisory Board members, and the corporations they represent, for their time, talent and dedication. We are all looking forward to some exciting ideas for PTA and I for one am glad these folks are on our team!

Please visit http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2009/pta_91210/index.html to find out more about the Advisory Board.

Until next time,
Charles "Chuck" Saylors
President, National PTA

Thursday, December 03, 2009

As A Parent, Did You Know?



Nothing is more painful than to watch and hear a parent talk about the loss of a child. Even more painful is when that child takes their own life. In recent news accounts, we’ve learned of two young ladies who took their lives after being bullied through “sexting”.

If you had asked me two months ago what the term “sexting” meant, I could not have given you any kind of credible answer, and I have teenagers. In simple terms, we have children sending messages and photos over cell phones and the internet that show themselves, and others, in less than appropriate ways. Once these messages and photos are public they can, and do, go viral.

In fact, according to an Associated Press-MTV poll, more than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting in some form. And half of all young people surveyed said they have been targets of digital bullying.

As parents, teachers and administrators we need to do everything possible to make sure our students know that these actions have consequences. Children make decisions each day that, if given a chance, they would change. Our children need to know that “sexting” is wrong, but they also need to know that the bullying is wrong as well. And we need to emphasize the impact of words because we know all too well that they hurt too.

To parents, grandparents, and any adult role model, I ask that you please talk to your children and help them understand that these issues are serious. Do everything possible to monitor their use of their phone messaging and the internet. “Sexting” is wrong, bullying is wrong and everyone needs to always be mindful of their actions. No parent or family should ever face the loss of a child over this!

If you need help talking to your child about cyber bullying, visit http://www.pta.org/bullying.asp for resources and information.

Until we meet again . . .