Beware of Email Phishing Scams

As the new term begins, we would like to remind all of our leaders about the dangers of email phishing. A phishing scam may ask you to send money, gift cards or personal information to someone you trust from within your organization. A phishing email might appear to come from a district president, the IRS or other officer in your unit.

Here are some best practices to keep in mind if you get an email that doesn’t feel right:

  • Contact the person directly. Call them or text them to check and see if they actually sent you the email in question. Having what experts call “back channels” can prevent you from divulging important information or losing money
  • PTA always requires a paper trail for financial dealings, and we never wire money or pay for things using gift cards. If you are in doubt, contact your president and treasurer to ask about the validity of the request
  • Never click on links in emails that you suspect are phishing. If you would like to look more closely at it you can copy it and paste it into its own browser page. Often times you will notice that it mimics the emails that your unit uses, but that it isn’t quite the same
  • Trust your gut. If you think it doesn’t sound right (for example, why would my unit president need me to send her $500 right away?) then it probably is phishing.

Why Wednesday? 7/24/19

It’s Why Wednesday! Q: Why is there so much paperwork in PTA?

A: We have been working to streamline some of the paperwork to try to make your life easier. This includes creating fillable versions of some of the most commonly used forms, which are available online in our Online Toolkit at toolkit.capta.org.

Every 501(c)3 non-profit is a business and is required to keep track of and report to government agencies about their activities, especially financial activities. California State PTA has created forms, policies, and procedures that help our unit officers and volunteers meet all legal requirements to operate a public charity in California. Paper trails are also necessary to make sure that every PTA and its officers and members are covered by insurance and to prevent fraud and misuse of PTA resources.

Every Wednesday on the blog and on social media, we will be answering the most commonly asked questions about PTA. Do you have any questions we can answer for Why Wednesday? There are four ways to send us your questions:

  1.  Complete this form: forms.gle/iy6z2mJoQbiehS6L6
  2. Tweet us @CaliforniaPTA
  3. Send us a Facebook message at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaPTA/ or comment on a Why Wednesday post
  4. Email communications@capta.org.

Membership Campaign Ideas

As you begin to think about your fall membership campaign, your first orders of business are to select a theme and set a goal. These are often some of the most fun parts of your campaign, as you can be as creative as you would like to be!

You can find lots of great theme ideas on Pinterest, you can theme it to your school mascot, or theme it to something in popular culture (a movie, book, or character that appeals to the children at your site).

Your goal should be specific and attainable, for example set of a goal of getting at least one more membership than last year or one membership for every student in the school. Once you have your theme and goal you can begin to think about marketing, bulletin boards, and fliers.

Check the blog next week for more membership ideas!

Why Wednesday? 7/17/19

 It’s Why Wednesday! Q: Why PTA and not another parent group?

A: When you are a PTA, you have multiple levels of support. We have comprehensive insurance that covers your activities and volunteers for the entire year for a very reasonable rate. We provide amazing training opportunities, both online and in person to help build stronger leaders. We are the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the nation and we do great things on behalf of children and families!

Every Wednesday on the blog and on social media, we will be answering the most commonly asked questions about PTA. Do you have any questions we can answer for Why Wednesday? There are four ways to send us your questions:

  1.  Complete this form: forms.gle/iy6z2mJoQbiehS6L6 
  2. Tweet us @CaliforniaPTA
  3. Send us a Facebook message at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaPTA/ or comment on a Why Wednesday post
  4. Email communications@capta.org.

Why Wednesday? 7/10/19

It’s Why Wednesday! Q: Why does the PTA year begin on July 1 for most units?

A: California State PTA recommends a July 1 to June 30 fiscal year is because it is an “academic calendar” year.  Most educational related entities (school districts, colleges etc.) use an academic calendar and by using the same calendar, PTAs are better able to seamlessly interact with the schools they work with. This fiscal year also has the benefit of allowing unit officers time to train and plan before the school year begins.

Every Wednesday on the blog and on social media, we will be answering the most commonly asked questions about PTA. Do you have any questions we can answer for Why Wednesday? There are four ways to send us your questions:

  1.  Complete this form: forms.gle/iy6z2mJoQbiehS6L6 
  2. Tweet us @CaliforniaPTA
  3. Send us a Facebook message at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaPTA/ or comment on a Why Wednesday post
  4. Email communications@capta.org.

Summer PTA To-Do List

  1. The board should have a summer meeting to get to know each other and begin planning for the new term
  2. Make sure that the annual financial report is completed — then file your taxes!
  3. Complete the end-of-year audit and add the new check-signers to the bank account
  4. Select your membership theme for the year, set a membership goal and send out an email through TOTEM to remind folks to join for the 2019-20 school year
  5. Attend trainings offered by your council or district and make plans to attend the Regional Leadership Conferences in August and September
  6. Visit toolkit.capta.org to familiarize yourself with the Toolkit
  7. Review your calendar and budget to make sure they are in line with your plans and goals
  8. Relax and enjoy time with your family so you will be re-charged and ready for an amazing school year!

Why Wednesday? Information

Every Wednesday on the blog and on social media, we will be answering the most commonly asked questions about PTA. If you have any questions that you would like for us to answer you have four ways to get them to us:

  1.  Complete this form: forms.gle/iy6z2mJoQbiehS6L6 
  2. Tweet us @CaliforniaPTA
  3. Send us a Facebook message at www.facebook.com/CaliforniaPTA/ or comment on a Why Wednesday post

Email communications@capta.org.

Get Ready for Summer with Electronic Membership

Get set up with e-membership before summer so members can join while you’re on vacation! If your PTA is not yet using the PTA electronic membership system, you can get set up now so you’ll be ready for the new school year. It’s just five easy steps and can take less than 10 minutes. For more information, visit www.capta.org/electronic-membership-system.

Watch your email inbox for an invitation from TOTEM. Our partners at TOTEM will be sending out invitations to PTA leaders to sign on to the system. You can change your officer positions, manage your online members and access to a variety of customized reports. Accept the invitation and get started right away. Questions? Visit www.capta.org/electronic-membership-system for more information, FAQs, success stories and more.

Bulk upload this year’s members to make sure they receive an automatic renewal message. We are excited to share the new bulk upload feature on TOTEM! Now you can upload all your members into the e-membership system and have one source for all your membership information. You can do it yourself with the Google sheet and FAQs from TOTEM, or for a small fee, TOTEM can set it up for you. All members in the system will receive renewal notices to make joining your PTA easier. This will set you up for a great start in the new year!

Leadership changes are coming soon. Don’t forget – June 1 is the deadline to upload your new PTA leaders. We encourage all local PTAs to upload new leaders into PTAEZ between now and June 1. For those units on TOTEM, please remember to update your leaders in that system as well. It’s as easy as a few clicks of a button.

Federal Legislative Highlights by Derby Pattengill

NATIONAL PTA

National PTA has taken a positions on a number of bills currently being debated in the 116th Congress. Click here for the complete list. Some notable bills include:

HR5 Equality Act (SUPPORT)
This bill prohibits discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system. Specifically, the bill defines and includes sex, sexual orientation and gender identity among the prohibited categories of discrimination or segregation.

HR 2021 Investing For The People Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill increases discretionary spending limits, modifies the procedures for enforcing the limits and establishes budget enforcement procedures in the House of Representatives for Fiscal Year 2020. The bill increases both the defense and nondefense discretionary spending limits for FY2020 and FY2021. It also modifies the procedures for enforcing the spending limits to limit adjustments for funding designated for Overseas Contingency Operations/ Global War on Terrorism, allow specified adjustments for Internal Revenue Service enforcement activities and the 2020 Census and modify the sequestration process.

HR8 Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill, along with a similar Senate bill (S42), seek to close a loophole in the background check process. This bill has already passed the House.

California State PTA

California State PTA has also taken positions on some federal legislation this term. Click here for the complete list.Some highlights include:

HR 330 The Climate Solutions Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill encourages strong renewable energy standards by requiring that 100 percent of electricity sold in the United States be generated from renewable sources by 2035. It will also aggressively target greenhouse gases by requiring such emissions to be 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. It also creates a national energy efficiency standard. Rep. Lieu has long been active in fighting climate change, having introduced versions of the Climate Solutions Act in both the 114th and 115th Congress.

HR 1395 Youth Mental Health Services Act of 2019 (SUPPORT)
This bill will amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to improve mental health services for students. Specifically, it identifies and disseminates best practices for mental health first aid, assists in the establishment and implementation of emergency planning and establishes or identifies agreements with local agencies to improve coordination of services.

NATIONAL PTA LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE

On March 12-14, 14 PTA leaders from California attended the 2019 National PTA Leg. Con. We had a total of 12 meetings at the capitol, including the offices of both of our senators as well as the Department of Education. It is a great experience advocating in Washington DC. Please consider attending the conference next year. Our asks at the meetings included:

  • Pass the Rebuild America’s Schools Act (HR 865/S.266). These bills seek to include public schools in any infrastructure package. Infrastructure is a bi-partisan issue with it being a priority for both the Speaker of the House as well as the President.
  • Oppose S.634 (Cruz) and similar Congressional bills. This bill provides tax credits for school choice. The Parent Teacher Association advocates for the improvement of public education for all children and to guarantee public funds are not diverted to any private school choice proposal and/or voucher system. PTA also opposes tax credits and deductions for elementary and secondary school tuition and other education-related expenses for public and nonpublic school students.

Our association believes that private school choice systems have detrimental effects on our public school systems. Public dollars must remain invested in public schools for the benefit of all students and the future of our nation.

  • Fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. When Congress originally passed IDEA, they promised to cover 40% of the extra cost of special education. In other words, they would pay for nearly half of the additional cost required to educate students with disabilities (when compared to the cost per student without disabilities). Unfortunately, Congress has never come close to fulfilling that promise. The number of students with disabilities served under IDEA has increased by 25 percent in the past two decades. Yet, the IDEA state grant program is currently only funded at around $13 billion. The federal government is only covering 14.6% of the additional cost.

Support HR. 330(Lieu) The Climate Solutions Act of 2019.  The California State  PTA recently took a support position on this bill that seeks to move toward 100% renewable energy sources and significantly cut greenhouse gas emissions over the next 30 years.

LEARN MORE

Learn more about California State PTA’s advocacy efforts and how we take positions on legislation at www.capta.org/advocacy.

Questions? If you have any federal legislation or federal advocacy questions, please do not hesitate to contact California State PTA Legislative Advocate Derby Pattengill at DP9@CAPTA.org

 

Protecting Our Children from Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking of youth has been escalating over the past decade and is prevalent in all major California cities. Sexual and labor exploitation are problems that touch our schools, as victims can be students or their family members. Recruiters can be people they know, relatives or people they meet online. Youth can also be trafficked while attending school and recruitment can happen on campus, making this a critical school safety issue.

Youth from the foster care systems and those who are fleeing abuse are at the greatest risk of commercial sexual exploitation, but young people of any background can meet a sex trafficker online, on a bus or at the mall. The trauma can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help.

Human trafficking education is now a required component of the health education framework for California public schools. The Human Trafficking Prevention Education and Training Act of 2018 mandate specifies that human trafficking education is provided at least once in middle and at least once in high school. But it is equally important to discuss this issue at home.

Technology Enables Sex Trafficking

Traffickers can use social media and gaming sites to recruit unsuspecting youth. Predators can learn about our kids through their social feeds then manipulate them through fake profiles. Pedophiles and sex buyers have their own social media site in the dark web to share photos and tips on how to go undetected when buying children for sex.

Apps and sites like KIK, Instagram and Snapchat and video games like Fortnite make it easy for predators to target youth while hiding behind a wall of anonymity. By sharing and chatting with strangers, youth can come in contact with the wrong person who says just the right thing to ensnare them. Teen Safe publishes a blacklist of potentially problematic apps that can put children in danger.

What Parents Can Do…

Ask “What if” Questions

Role playing is a powerful way to teach kids how to handle difficult situations.  Discuss potential situations that could occur in different scenarios like sports practice, walking to a friend’s house, outdoor festivals, Halloween, the movie theater, etc. These “what would you do” conversations can take place at the dinner table or on the drive to school, and may help ease apprehension about the topic.

Ask questions like:

  • “What would you do if a good-looking older guy came up to you and said he thought you were pretty enough to be a model? Would you give him your phone number?”
  • “Is it okay for a stranger to take pictures of you?”
  • “Do you know anyone at school that has an older boyfriend?”
  • “Have any of your friends ever talked about getting paid to go on dates?”
  • “Has anyone ever sent you a picture that made you feel uncomfortable?”
  • “What would you do if someone sent you an inappropriate picture or asked you for one?

The conversation can also continue with a talk about internet safety and “stranger danger”.

Know the Signs

Traffickers often pose as friends or boyfriends and groom their victims prior to commercially sexually exploiting them. By informing children about the commonly tactics used by traffickers to recruit victims, such as dating “Romeo pimps”, peer recruiting and fake modeling or acting jobs, we can help reduce their vulnerability.

Know your Child’s Friends and Whereabouts

Install a safety app on your phones. There are many safety apps available for IOS and Android phones. Here are some apps to consider.

Educate Yourself

Know How to Respond

What Schools Can Do…

  1. Trauma-informed training on commercial sexual exploitation of children for school staff
  2. Referral protocols for school staff
  3. Human trafficking education for students and supports groups for high-risk youth
  4. Abuse education for elementary schools
  5. Family information nights
  6. Posters and awareness campaigns to encourage youth to seek help

Learn more from the U.S. Department of Education: Human Trafficking in America’s Schools

Sex Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation: Training Tool for School Administrators