California State PTA Responds to Governor’s Announcement About Closure of Schools for Remainder of Academic Year

SACRAMENTO – APRIL 1, 2020 – California State PTA has released the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s press conference today, in which he made important announcements about school closures, distance learning, and bridging the digital divide during the coronavirus outbreak.

“We at California State PTA stand behind the Governor in his efforts to keep children, families, and school staff safe during this crisis,” said Celia Jaffe, President of California State PTA. “We concur with the Governor that quality distance learning, meals for students, and the care and supervision of children are top priorities in the coming months. Efforts to provide internet access are particularly important for our underserved communities. Parents and caregivers throughout California are performing multiple roles during this outbreak, and the Governor’s expression of appreciation for their extraordinary efforts is very well received by PTA.”


About California State PTA: California State PTA connects families, schools and communities. We are part of the foundation of our public-education system and a trusted messenger to millions of members, parents, families, educators and allied agencies throughout the state. PTA is the nation’s largest volunteer-led child-advocacy association working to drive improvements in the education, health and well-being of all children and families. For more information:


Heather Ippolito
Vice President for Communications

Ignacio Barragan
Assistant Executive Director

POLICY REPORT: PTA Survey Reveals Parents’ Views on Science Education (NGSS)

November 6, 2018

Media Contacts:

Nine Out of 10 Parents Agree Learning Science is Equally Important as Reading, Writing and Math


California parents say that science learning is vitally important and they support the kinds of changes in science instruction envisioned in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), according to a recent survey conducted by California State PTA. The survey, with more than 2,000 respondents (see overview below), also revealed about half of parents believe their district does not provide enough science instruction at the elementary school level.

Parents’ belief in the importance of science was the strongest message out of the survey, with nearly nine out of 10 agreeing or strongly agreeing that learning science is equally important as reading, writing and math. The results were similar across all parents surveyed, regardless of the child’s age, their own science background, their ethnic and socio-economic background, or their engagement in school activities. In addition, 80 percent of parents reacted positively to messages that “science is central to how we understand and make sense of the world around us,” and “a strong science education is essential for college and career readiness.”

“As California proceeds with the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), it is important for parents to understand and support the changes schools are making,” said California State PTA President Dianna MacDonald. “Our survey results indicate parents think science instruction is vital and that they welcome the kinds of changes the state expects schools to put into place.”

When presented with descriptions of how instruction will change under NGSS, more than 80 percent of the parents surveyed said they felt favorably or very favorably toward the new standards. Parents find particularly appealing the idea that the new standards encourage students to ask lots of questions and emphasize hands-on investigation and discovery. They were equally positive about the new standards beginning at an early age and engaging students who may not think of themselves as “science kids.”

The respondents were also nearly unanimous in supporting the need for children to be equipped with critical thinking, problem solving and analytical skills, consistent with the state’s learning goals in English language arts and mathematics.

The California State PTA survey also made clear that many parents see plenty of room for improvement in both the quality and quantity of science instruction their children currently receive.

  • Only 56 percent are satisfied with the amount of science their child is receiving, and the responses were markedly less positive among elementary school parents, with just 43 percent agreeing.
  • Less than half (46 percent) agreed with the statement “the science program at my child’s school is equal to the best schools in California.”

Asked whether their child attended a science class or had a science lesson either daily or weekly, seven out of 10 survey respondents said yes. However, that dropped to just over half (54 percent) among elementary parents.

Along with questions about their own children’s experiences, the PTA survey asked parents their opinion about whether science instruction in their school district as a whole was sufficient. The responses varied by grade level, with 53 percent saying their district was not providing enough science instruction in local elementary schools, 24 percent saying the same about middle schools, and 19 percent saying “not enough” in high school

The survey also indicates that schools could do more to enlist parents’ active engagement with science learning. Parents were nearly unanimous in saying it’s important for their child to have science-related learning experiences outside of the classroom but only half said they know a lot about the science their child is learning in school.

The majority also said they could better support their child’s science education if they better understood the curriculum and had ideas about fun science activities to do at home. Only about a quarter of parents agreed or strongly agreed that their child’s teacher provides those kinds of ideas, with the response consistent across all grade levels and ethnic backgrounds.

With the California State Board of Education’s formal adoption of instructional materials aligned with NGSS, more schools will be actively implementing new science teaching approaches. In addition, this spring students will take the first statewide science tests that will be reported for school accountability purposes. Notably, half of parents surveyed say that they are completely unfamiliar with the terms Next Generation Science Standards and NGSS.

Parents could play a significant role in helping schools’ NGSS implementation efforts succeed. However, their support will be much stronger if schools take the time to explain the new standards, address parents’ questions, and tap into their enthusiasm for science learning both in and out of school.

Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts Standards


California State PTA in partnership with Create CA is pleased to launch the newly revised Parents’ Guide to Arts Education in California Public Schools. This guide provides an overview of what your child will learn in the arts disciplines of dance, music, theatre and the visual arts by the end of each grade level.

By asking about the arts program at your child’s school, you are showing your interest in all students, not just the “talented,” having the opportunity to express their unique individuality through creating and learning in and through the arts.

The information is grouped into four sections:

Download the full guide here:



  • A snapshot of your child as they experience the arts in their classroom at each grade level.
  • A few key examples of what is typically taught in dance, music, theatre and the visual arts at each grade level to use as a starting point in talking to
    your child’s teacher.
  • Questions to ask the teacher about your child’s progress in arts learning and about the school’s arts program.
  • Ideas for what you can do to help your child learn in the arts at school, at home and in the community.
  • If you are interested in expanding or improving the visual and performing arts program at your child’s school, key resources for getting started are provided.

The arts learning examples in this guide are based on the Visual and Performing Arts Framework for California Public Schools, the California Visual and Performing Arts Content Standards and the National Core Arts Standards. While standards in every subject area are revised over the years, if your child is being provided with the type of arts content suggested here in each grade, he or she will be well prepared for learning in the arts in each grade level.

“California State PTA is excited to provide this arts curriculum guide for parents and education advocates across California. In partnership with CREATE CA, California State PTA has put together a simple, easy-to-read guide of the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Standards by grade level. This guide, in conjunction

with the California Arts Education Data Project, will give parents and education advocates a snapshot of how a full arts curriculum advances student success socially, emotionally and academically.” – Celia Jaffe, President, California State PTA

Four Big Upgrades to California’s Public Schools

California’s K-12 public schools are undergoing an ambitious remodeling project, with a focus on ensuring all students, no matter who they are or what their circumstance, graduate high school ready to succeed in higher education, careers, and in life.

All of these changes work together locally to give parents, students, educators and communities more of a say in the ways education funding is spent in their school district, how priorities are set, and the strategies used to meet the unique needs of all students.

Upgrades include:

  1. High Learning Standards for All Students
  2. Student-Centered Funding
  3. Locally-Created Plans for Your District
  4. Measuring Local Progress.

Download the flier in English or Spanish.

Suicide Prevention

Know the Signs

According to 2014 data, suicide is the second leading cause of death among U.S. teens. People who are suicidal often do or say things that are signals they may be thinking about committing suicide.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares common warning signs to watch for:

  • Threats or comments about killing themselves. This may begin with seemingly harmless comments like, “I wish I wasn’t here”
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Social withdrawal from friends, family and community
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Talking, writing, or thinking about death
  • Impulsive or reckless behavior
  • Putting their affairs in order or giving away possessions
  • Saying goodbye to friends and family
  • Mood shifts from despair to calm
  • Planning, possibly by looking around, to buy, steal or borrow the tools needed to commit suicide, such as a firearm or prescription medication.

Knowing what to look for is the first step in helping someone who may be considering suicide. If you sense that something is wrong, trust your instincts.

Find the Words

Start the Conversation:

If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, you might be afraid to bring up the subject. Don’t be afraid! Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. Talking about suicide won’t give the person ideas about death. The opposite is true — bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.

Tell the person you are worried about them. Mention the warning signs you have noticed. Be sure to have suicide crisis resources on hand.

Ask about Suicide:

Ask the person if they are thinking about suicide. If they say they are feeling hopeless or considering suicide, take them seriously.


Express concern and reassure the person. Listen with empathy and provide support. Someone who is experiencing emotional pain or suicidal thoughts can feel isolated, even with family and friends around.

Create a Safety Plan:

A safety plan can help guide a person through a crisis and help keep them safe. A safety plan is a written list of coping strategies and sources of support for people who are at high risk for suicide. The strategies found in a customized safety plan can be used before or during a suicidal crisis.

Make sure the person you care about keeps the plan easily accessible in case they have thoughts of hurting themselves. Ask the person if they have access to any lethal means (weapons, medications, etc.) and help remove them from the vicinity.

For information and a template on how to create a safety plan, visit or

Get Help:

Provide the person with the resources you have come prepared with. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline anytime at 1-800-273-8255.

If you feel the situation is critical, take the person to a nearby emergency room or walk-in psychiatric crisis clinic, or call 9-1-1.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline  1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Lifeline is Free, confidential and always available.

Trevor Project  — 1-866-488-7386

The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth and is always available.

Crisis Text Line — Text HELLO to 741741

The Crisis Text Line is free 24/7 and confidential.


California State PTA supported AB 2246 (O’Donnell 2016) which mandated that the governing board of any local educational agency that services pupils in grades seven to twelve adopt a policy on pupil suicide prevention, intervention, and post-vention. The bill was signed into law by Governor Brown and went into effect at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year. The law specifically addresses the needs of high-risk groups, including suicide awareness and prevention training for teachers.

The California Department of Education has developed a model policy to guide district’s efforts in developing an appropriate policy in their school district. View the Model Youth Suicide Prevention Policy at



Parent Guide to State Tests

The California Department of Education, in collaboration with Smarter Balanced and Educational Testing Service (ETS), have launched two new websites for parents called “Starting Smarter” for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) and the English Language Proficiency Assessment for California (ELPAC).

These family-focused websites provide resources to facilitate parents’/guardians’ understanding of the scores presented on their child’s Student Score Reports. Using these websites, families can learn more about the performance areas in each subject and grade, see sample test questions, prepare for parent-teacher conferences with a useful downloadable guide, and access high-quality resources to support learning at home. The websites are also available in Spanish.

Visit and to learn more.

Six Ways to Engage Families in ESSA

Parents and their children are the consumers of our nation’s public education system, and parents have always been essential partners in education. However, they haven’t always been included at the decision-making table. This has caused confusion, mistrust and backlash when new initiatives — whether at the federal, state or local level—have been considered and implemented.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) provides a unique opportunity for parents and families to give their input and to hold states and districts accountable for their children’s educational experience.

National PTA has identified six critical ways states, school districts and schools should be engaging parents and families as part of ESSA or any new education initiative. Use the rubric on the back to evaluate how your state, school district and school are doing!

ESSA Stakeholder Toolkit

National PTA has a new toolkit to assist state, local PTAs and their PTA members to ensure state leaders include how they have engaged and meaningfully consulted different stakeholders in the implementation of the new state education plans. The toolkit includes:

  • Sample social media messages
  • Graphics
  • Letters

Download National PTA’s ESSA Stakeholder Toolkit.