Protecting Kids from the Academic Impact of a Lost Year

By Mary Perry, California State PTA Board of Managers

For many California children, the 2020-21 school year was a time of lost potential as one fourth of families did not have a high-speed internet connection and thousands of students did not even enroll in school. In June, Assembly Bill 104 (Gonzalez) was adopted as an emergency measure to support parents and help them protect their students from some of those impacts.

According to a press release from the bill’s author, San Diego Democrat Lorena Gonzalez, AB 104 goes into effect immediately and allows parents of students who fell behind during the last year to pursue a number of learning recovery options before the next school year begins.” California State PTA supported the bill. 

Three key things parents can do

Thanks to this newly passed emergency measure, families have several options for helping students make up for lost instructional time. Each has a specific timeline and requires that parents and students take the initiative to communicate with school officials. When state guidance refers to Local Education Agencies, or LEAs, it includes school districts, charter schools and county offices of education.  

  • Change a “D” or “F” grade to Pass/No Pass

This option requires fast action! Students enrolled in high school in the 2020–21 academic year may apply to have any letter grade replaced with a pass or no pass grade. The CA Department of Education has prepared a form that LEAs will use for this request and should have already posted on their website. In addition, they should post this list of the UC campuses and private universities that have agreed to accept transcripts with these changes. AB 104 required that all California State University (CSU) campuses accept the pass/no pass grades as well. After the LEA has posted this information and provided written notice, students have 15 days to file their grade change request.

  • Retain a student in their previous grade

This option is for students who were in any of grades kindergarten to 11th grade in 2020-21 and successfully finished less than half of their course work. Parents must file a written request with their Local Education Agency to have their student retained in the same grade for another year. The LEA, in turn, must schedule a consultation with the parent within 30 days of that request. The LEA makes the final decision on the request and must notify the parent within 10 days of the consultation. Most LEAs already have a form they use for parents related to grade retention. You should contact your school principal or district office for more information.

  • Exempt a student from local graduation requirements 

Students enrolled in their third or fourth year of high school in 2020-21 and who are not on track to graduate in four years must be offered some options. One option is to exempt them from all coursework and other requirements adopted by the LEA that are in addition to the statewide coursework requirements, which are fewer than most districts require. If necessary, LEAs must also provide these students the opportunity to complete the statewide coursework required for graduation, which may include offering a fifth year of instruction or credit recovery. Here is a quick comparison of the statewide requirements and those that make a student eligible for UC or CSU admission.

This EdSource article, part of their July 26 news update, provides additional background about AB 104. For deeper background related to education, PTA advocacy, health, community concerns, and family engagement, visit the  of the CA State PTA website

Follow us on social media for the latest updates on state laws, emerging issues and other information impacting California’s children and families.

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Parent Town Hall with the US Department of Education

There is a unique opportunity for parents this Thursday, July 29th at 5:00 p.m. — The National Association for Family, School and Community Engagement and the United Parent Leaders Action Network are hosting a parent town hall featuring the US Department of Education. 

As we prepare to return to in-person learning, parents have lots of questions to ask. During this webinar panelists from the US Department of Education and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will answer your questions and address your concerns.

This event is free and you can register by clicking here: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ud3iTJdmQRubnMoGJZhLSg 

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Interview with Danni Kim, National PTA Family Engagement Whole Child Fellow

Earlier this month National PTA announced the names of four Family Engagement Fellows from across the United States. California State PTA is proud to announce that Danni Kim from Franklin Magnet PTA in First District was selected for this prestigious program.

Our Vice President for Family Engagement, Heather Ippolito, sat down with Danni and asked her about the importance of family engagement, her favorite programs to connect families to campus, and for a sneak peek into what the Fellows will be doing. She described several amazing programs implemented at her school site this past year including “Culture of Kindness” and a virtual art assembly that focused on diversity.

Click below to watch the interview:

Additional resources:

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Family Engagement in the News

As we gear up to head back to school, our commission has been noticing a trend in the news — there has been a great deal of talk about Family Engagement! This is exciting for all of our PTA units, as this continues to show that the work you do every day to connect families to your campus is significant,  important, and valued. Here are three recent articles that might spark some discussions at your next executive board meeting or in discussions with your principal. 

Family Engagement in the News

USA Today delved into the huge rise in family engagement that came out of necessity during the pandemic, as parents and caregivers were helping their students every day participate in their online, distance learning. They share some of the best practices that came out of the pandemic, and some challenges as we return to school. The article goes on to say that parents and families shouldn’t just be told how to help their children succeed, they should be included in the discussion and treated as a valued member of the academic team.  

New Budget Brings Lots of One-Time Funding

Governor Newsom’s budget is one of the brightest spots in the news when it comes to educational funding. This budget increases funding for mental health needs that our students (and families) have experienced due to the pandemic. It creates Transitional Kindergarten for all 4 year-olds connecting children and families to schools sooner than ever before. There is also a great deal of focus on professional development for teachers- which could include time to devote to better practices for engaging and connecting with families. EdSource has a fairly comprehensive summary of the budget and what it means to the schools in California. 

To Share with our Administrators  

Tips for Communicating with Families – A school district in Florida has turned to social media and video clips to help families feel more connected to what their students are learning and how their children are using technology. Check out the article and an accompanying YouTube video for some great ideas including tech tips for families and tech tours. A great nugget from the interview: “Be where the families are- – find the best communications tools to reach them — a website alone is not enough for our diverse families.”

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Summer learning ideas and resources

Learning loss during the summer months is a real concern, especially after the challenging school year we’ve had. If you’re looking for ways to keep your child’s mind active over the term break, or just want to take part in some interesting summer activities with your kids, California State PTA has got you covered!

We’ve compiled the following list of resources and ideas:

Resource Library

These items and activities from our Resource Library will help you learn how to keep your kids’ brains engaged:

These are just a few of the summery ideas and resources you’ll find in the Resource Library. Be sure to check it out by using the simple search function!

Learning Heroes

Readiness Checker: Our Education Commission found this helpful resource for parents of students in kindergarten through 8th grade. It’s a simple-to-use tool that helps you check how your child is doing in math and English language arts, based on their grade level.

Using the results of quick on-line items, it also suggests some resources that can help you and your child use a bit of time this summer to get a targeted head start on next school year.

Summer Parent-Teacher Planning Tool: This one-page document can be used in a meeting with your child’s teacher to co-create a summer learning plan. It provides ideas for two-way communication and a chance for parents and teachers to share their observations of a student’s learning. Click here for the English version, and here for Spanish.

Create @ Home from Create CA

Our partners at Create CA have curated an amazing selection of fun and educational resources that allow kids to learn about and engage with the arts at home.

The #CreateAtHome activities are split into six categories, with at least four resources per section:

  • Integrated and General
  • Visual and Media Arts
  • Music
  • Performing Arts
  • Arts for Healing
  • Arts Educators and Professionals

Click here to see all the great ideas for art activities to do at home.

National PTA

Help Your Student Make the Most of Their Summer (and Still Have Time for Fun): Choosing vacations over summer school can be tricky, especially after such a difficult year. A good compromise is online, self-paced courses, which allow students to take their courses with them and work on them on their own schedule. Click here to read it.

10 Non-Tech Summer Activities to Build Language, Literacy and Learning: The dog days of summer are here—and many kids have a lot more leisure time on their hands. To prevent overuse of tech devices, try these ideas for non-tech activities that are fun AND promote language, literacy and learning. Click here to read the article.

Pinterest

Bet you didn’t realize that California State PTA’s Pinterest boards are chock-full of science projects, art activities and other summer learning activities! Click here to explore.

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Introduction to the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

National PTA is focused on transformative family engagement which is defined as “a shared effort of families, schools, and community leaders to advance programs, practices, and policies that empower every parent to make their child’s potential a reality.” To that end, the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships will help your school evaluate where you are in your family engagement journey and give you ideas to be more inclusive in your practices.

There are six parts to the blueprint:

  1. Welcoming all families into the school community 
  2. Communicating effectively 
  3. Supporting student success 
  4. Speaking up for every child
  5. Sharing power 
  6. Collaborating with community

Throughout the year we will be sharing with you some examples and best practices in each of these areas, but we would also love to hear from you!  What are you doing to engage families in your school, council, or district PTA? Share your great ideas by completing this form or email familyengagement@capta.org

To learn more about National PTA’s Transformative Family Engagement work, visit the Center for Family Engagement and watch this video:  

Next steps: 

  • Download the complete Guide and begin to read through it or start with the briefer summary document as an introduction.
  • Select one area of focus for your PTA to discuss at your next meeting.  Brainstorm ideas and make a plan to put one of those ideas into action at the following meeting.
  • Show the Guide to your school principal and give it to your School Site Council President.

If you missed last week’s Family Engagement Friday blog post, you can check it out here.

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First Tasks for New PTA Officers

Getting started as a brand-new PTA officer can seem daunting at first. There’s a lot that needs to be done to get things up and running, but who does what, and in what order?

This list help you figure out when and how to schedule meetings, create calendars, and perform other tasks that will ensure that your PTA gets off to a good start!

  1. The president should set up a meeting with the school principal and call meetings of the board as soon as possible.
  2. At the first of meeting, ratify appointed officers, fill any vacant offices and make plans for the coming year. Strive for a balance of experienced and new members, keeping in mind that all areas of the community should be represented.
  3. Consider a membership survey, to be returned prior to the end of the school year, where past unit activities are reviewed and suggestions for new activities are solicited.
  4. Use input from the survey for brainstorming session(s) with the board-elect to establish board goals. Set realistic goals and
    prioritize projects.
  5. Set a calendar for the upcoming year and provide membership campaign materials to the school for any summer mailings
    they may be planning.
  6. Review procedure books from past years.
  7. Become familiar with the duties of each chair by reviewing the California State PTA Toolkit. Share job descriptions and materials as noted with the chairpersons and help them to secure procedure books and materials from their predecessors. If they fail to receive procedure books, assist them in setting up their own.
  8. Consider reviewing the PTA bylaws with the entire board (even if they are newer than three years). The bylaws contain many job responsibilities and timelines/due dates. Reviewing them together gets everyone on same page with the same expectations.
  9. Encourage every board member to attend trainings.
  10. Prepare a preliminary budget and present it for adoption at your next association meeting.
  11. Verify with outgoing board that the year-end Annual Financial Report has been completed after the books are closed, that arrangements have been made for the annual year-end financial report, the year-end audit, and that documents have been compiled for ease in preparing tax filings.
  12. Update signature cards for bank accounts.
  13. Provide names and addresses of board members to council and/or district PTA for their respective directories. Make sure each of your board members knows how to contact their counterpart at district (or council) to get questions answered.

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What is Family Engagement?

By Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Family Engagement

In PTA we often talk about family engagement, but what does it really mean and why is it so very important?  

Family engagement with schools has many definitions:  

  • The US Department of Health and Human Services: Family engagement is the process used to build genuine relationships with families. Relationships with families support overall family well-being and children’s healthy development. When families are engaged, partnerships are created that have a common focus– helping children grow and thrive.
  • In 2010 the National Family, School and Community Engagement Working Group (now the NAFSCE Policy Council) defined family engagement like this: “Family engagement is a shared responsibility in which schools and other community agencies and organizations are committed to reaching out to engage families in meaningful ways and in which families are committed to actively supporting their children’s learning and development.”
  • National PTA defines transformative family engagement as a shared effort of families, schools and community leaders to advance programs, practices, and policies that empower every parent to make their child’s potential a reality.

Research shows family engagement is a major factor in student success, with an encouraging home environment serving as a bigger factor in student achievement than a parent’s income, education level or cultural background. It also tells us that family engagement:

  • Promotes healthy development and wellness in children
  • Increases graduation rates for those students whose families are involved on campus
  • Decreases dropout rates and behavior issues in students whose families participate on campus
  • Increases a child’s academic and social skills

What does this all boil down to for our  PTA unit, council and district leaders? Family engagement is something you do daily. Your programs and events help bring families to your campus and better understand educational issues that impact their children. When you help create and foster relationships between families, the school and the greater community, the students at your school thrive.  

Our goal as the California State PTA Family Engagement Commission is to give you concrete ideas to make this task easier. Every Friday on the blog we will share family engagement tips, best practices, and resources that will help you as you plan activities on your campus. We are so excited to work alongside you this term! 

Next steps:

  • This year at your first executive board meeting set three family engagement goals. Some examples of family engagement goals are:
  • Increase involvement of fathers, grandfathers, and other male family members in PTA and school events
  • Increase parent and family participation in the Local Control Accountability Plan and Local Control Funding Formula meetings
  • Take at least three actions this year to make your existing programs more accessible for families of children with special needs. For example, open up your Fall Harvest Festival 30 minutes early for these families so they can enjoy the activities with smaller crowds and less sensory stimulation.

Share with us your goals and you might be recognized in our social media (or win a prize). Email them to familyengagement@capta.org 

  • We also want to hear about your best family engagement activities. Complete this simple form and your school may be featured here on the blog, in our social media or on our website. 

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Thank you from PTA president Celia Jaffe

Hello PTA friends and friends of California State PTA:

The resilience, dedication, and creativity shown by PTA leaders during this challenging term has been exceptional. Through the pandemic, PTAs continued to play meaningful roles in their local communities and to influence state and national policy-making on behalf of all children. Thanks to each of you for all your efforts. You made a difference during tough times.

I want to thank you for the privilege of serving as your state president these last two years. This organization means the world to me, and I have been honored to represent you.

Carol Green begins her term as California State PTA president this week. We have worked together for many years, and I know Carol will do great things in this role.

Congratulations to Carol and the 2021-23 Board of Directors. All the best to you as you move California State PTA forward.

Yours,

 

 

 

Celia Jaffe
2019-21 President, California State PTA

 

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Raffle Permit Information

An opportunity drawing is a prize where everyone who comes to the event has an equal chance of winning and no one pays for a ticket.

A raffle is defined as a lottery in which each participant buys a chance to win a prize. PTAs are not exempt from having to apply for a permit if they intend to have raffles, so please make sure that you have the permit BEFORE you have these kinds of activities.

Forms and information on how to conduct a legal raffle can be obtained by going to the California Attorney General’s website. (See www.ag.ca.gov/charities/raffles.php, Section 320.5 – Gambling: Charitable Raffles.) 

Raffles may include but are not limited to: Raffles, donation drawings, ducky derby and cow chip bingo. 50/50 raffles are illegal in California.

A completed registration form and registration fee must be submitted by September 1 of each reporting year (September 1 through August 31) during which a raffle is expected to be conducted. The $20.00 fee covers all raffles for the year.  A Nonprofit Raffle Report must be completed that summarizes each raffle conducted during a reporting year (September 1 through August 31). Reports are due on or before September 1 (California Penal Code section 320.5).

Remember: If you have obtained a raffle permit you MUST file a Nonprofit Raffle Report, even if you did not hold any raffles during the year. It should be one of the final things that your board does prior to transition to the new board at the end of the fiscal year. 

Please note: Only nonprofits in good standing with the Attorney General’s office may hold raffles, so be sure your PTA has filed any missing raffle reports from prior years, as well as all Charitable Trust filings required before you apply for a permit.

This blog post was written by Melinda Kirkland, 2019-21 California State PTA Treasurer

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