How are we doing?
Considering the scope of work involved, Washington is holding steady. But implementing new policies remains a challenge – chiefly because funding has not been addressed.
· Progress is slow on changes to basic education, with some delays due to budget cuts and others due to lack of consensus around new reforms. (Disagreements over hiring, layoffs and compensation.)
· Progress is steady on educator-led overhaul of evaluations and ways to improve teaching and learning.
· Initial work is underway to turn around some of our lowest-performing schools. Early reports from the Merit schools have been inspiring (incredibly engaged staff) but we haven’t seen data yet.
· In general, there are more supports for family engagement written into state law. And for the first time statewide, educators will be evaluated on their ability to communicate with parents and community. How that will be measured remains uncertain.
Following is a round-up and update of our association’s top priorities. We will keep these through the 2012 session, with possible adjustments at our Legislative Assembly this October.
No. 1 Expanding and funding basic education
No. 2 Math and Science Education
No. 3 Literacy screening and instruction
No. 4 Teacher Reduction in Force
No. 5 Fund Education First
No 6 New Model for Teacher Compensation
For more information see FOCUS ON SCHOOLS: 2011 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
-- Ron Scofield, ACPTA Advocacy Co-Chair
With special thanks to Ramona Hattendorf, WSPTA GOvernment Relations
The whole PTA organization (from National to Washington State, to here in Auburn) supports diversity and encourages a spirit of Inclusion and Involvement for all units. Take a moment to consider if unit is fully representing all of the children and families of your school: new families, working moms, single parents, bilingual or ESL families, dads... There are many ways a unit can start introducing Outreach ideas and growing your unit to include the rich diversity from your community.
First look at your unit's strengths. (For example, strong core of volunteers, parents dedicated to educational goals, involved teachers). Then decide where the needs of your unit may be. For example, you could set a goal of increasing the number of dads who participate, or improve your unit's communication with bilingual families, or perhaps reach out to working families. Take a look at the demographics of your school as well. Your principal and the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a great resource for this.
Use all this information to determine your school greatest need. Look around and start making connections with people in your school who can help achieve your goals! As a PTA unit, you can make a goal of one targeted group per year. That way the focus is on one group, and they can receive the focus and training that is needed to be successful within the core group. And your unit can feel successful as well.
Another way you can gather some great information is to conduct a members survey. Surveys are a great way to see what the needs of your members are. Keep them short, offer translated versions, avoid asking leading questions, you can even use multiple choice. Consider testing the questions on a small group such as your Board of Directors o make sure the survey makes sense. Combine your results and take action!
The best leaders welcome the rich diversity in language, culture, and family structure in our changing student populations. These leaders are bold, and adhere to a powerful vision, with a clear focus on results. Leaders look beyond the barriers and see opportunities. Have fun reaching out to your amazing community!
--Amy Kulp, Council Outreach Chair
Council Leaders will be writing articles relating to their committee or favorite interest. You are encouraged to respond! Ask questions, add your experiences, contribute to the conversation. We are all in this together!