Focus Areas

Advocacy for children and families


One of the most important roles of California State PTA is to create and support laws that improve the lives of all California children.


Join California State PTA Director of Legislation Shereen Walter and members of the Legislation Team during our monthly webinar, where we discuss all the latest information.

The webinars take place the first Wednesday of the month from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. Here is the schedule of upcoming webinars:

  • May 6, 2020

Webinar registration link:

Webinar ID: 436-971-571

If your computer does not have speakers or you otherwise have trouble hearing the audio once you’ve logged in, mute your speakers and call 415-655-0052 to hear the discussion. Use attendee PIN number 455-276-312. (Note: you cannot use this phone number to hear the webinar unless you register and log in through the above link first.)

To watch a recording of the April 1st webinar, click here. To view a PDF of the presentation, click here.


Congratulations PTA – Advocacy in Action!

Senate Bill 328, sponsored by California State PTA and co-authored by State Senator Anthony Portantino, has been signed into law by Governor Newsom.

Signed on October 14, 2019, this law will prohibit middle schools from beginning their school day before 8:00 a.m., and high schools from beginning their school day before 8:30 a.m.

“The California State PTA was an early champion of this bill, which represents an enormous victory for youth across the Golden State,” said California State PTA President Celia Jaffe. “Our members believe later school start times address the very real biological changes that every teenager experiences. The research is clear that sleep deprivation is an epidemic among adolescents, and those who get sufficient sleep not only perform better academically, but are also less likely to be involved in traffic accidents, have a reduced risk of obesity and depression, and have overall better quality of life.”

“We recognize that this bill will require structural changes in the way schools operate, which is why we worked with legislators to ensure that SB 328 provides a three-year period for local districts to determine how to best implement these changes in their own communities,” she added. “Despite the challenges posed to schools, we feel the passage of this important bill puts kids’ needs first. Governor Newsom’s decision to change school start times will improve the health, safety and academic success of students, and PTA members across the state are so pleased to see that the efforts of the current and past board, as well as the outstanding advocacy efforts of our local leaders, helped this bill become law. We thank Senator Portantino for championing this worthy issue.”

Learn more:

For questions, please reach out to Director of Legislation Shereen Walter at or Executive Director Sherry Skelly Griffith at



California State PTA supports California Schools and Local Communities Funding Act and encourages PTA members to get involved in the campaign. This initiative will change how commercial and industrial property is taxed and raise between $6 billion and 10 billion to support our schools (40 percent) and other local governments (60 percent).



Take a look at the latest Federal legislative updates from California State PTA including updates from National PTA.


View federal advocate Derby Pattengill’s blog post from May 2019 here.

Congressman DeSaulnier Recognized as National Education Leader

The National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) honored Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11) with the 2018 Congressional Voice for Children Award for outstanding leadership and commitment to improving education and outcomes for students. This bipartisan, bicameral award is given to two Members of Congress each year. Read the full press release.

(Pictured above: Congressman DeSaulnier receives 2018 Congressional Voice for Children Award from the National PTA. L to R: Congressman DeSaulnier; Celia Jaffe, President-elect, California PTA; Sherry Skelly Griffith, Executive Director; California PTA; Jim Accomando, President, National PTA.)

“Learning does not start and stop in the classroom. When parents, teachers and the entire community work together to ensure all students receive a quality education, we are setting future generations up to succeed and thrive,” said Congressman DeSaulnier. “I am honored to receive the Congressional Voice for Children Award from the National PTA for our work on behalf of our nation’s schools and students. I look forward to continuing to work with the dedicated members of the PTA in California and around the country to support teachers, improve our schools, and prioritize student success.”


On March 14, PTA members and leaders from across the state – and throughout the nation – made their voices heard. Phone calls, social media posts and emails flooded the inboxes of federal lawmakers to demand an end to gun violence. In addition, California State PTA leaders addressed gun violence, school safety and mental health issues with legislators in Washington D.C. as part of the 2018 National PTA Legislation Conference. The power of PTA was heard loud and clear – thank you!

More information:

Fringe news outlets published stories incorrectly stating California State PTA’s positions on gun-violence prevention efforts and student demonstrations. California PTA did not organize any marches or student walkouts.

Gun violence is a public-health crisis that affects us all – most of all, our children and youth. And, it’s preventable. California State PTA will be addressing gun violence, school safety and mental health issues with federal lawmakers in Washington D.C. on March 13-15 during the 2018 National PTA Legislation Conference. We are also asking for your help to “call out” your federal legislators to demand stronger gun-violence prevention legislation. View the action alert.

California State PTA supports the rights of students to express themselves on campus through organized demonstrations, but believes that care must be taken to ensure the orderly operation of the school is not disrupted and the physical safety of students is not threatened. Leaving during school hours to attend an off-campus demonstration places the student outside the safety zone of the school and unnecessarily jeopardizes that school’s education funding. We are aware of several student demonstrations scheduled in the coming days and weeks and have provided guidance for local PTAs that wish to support student voices. View guidance information.

Additional Resources:


  • Support adequate funding for public education by educating our members and policy makers and advocating for legislation to bring California within the top 10 states in per pupil funding
  • Promote schools as a safe and welcoming environment for all students, families and communities and support children’s health and welfare in all aspects of their lives
  • Support and protect high-quality public education from efforts that would weaken this vital foundation of our democracy
  • Advocate for authentic and measurable family-engagement standards in education policy.



If you are the new advocacy chair or legislative officer for your PTA, thank you for taking this important position. PTA has a proud history of advocating for pro-grams and legislation that help children be safe, healthy and successful. Now you are a part of that vital mission. If you have never done this job before, you may wonder how to begin. The state legislative process is complex and the issues can be confusing. There is a lot to learn. But California State PTA is here to make your job as easy as possible!

An invaluable resource is, a free online course on California education, broken into brief lessons. Encourage your members to access this course to become informed parents and to win possible prizes for your school.

Fourth District PTA has great resources for you and your members. Check out their advocacy newsletter, including a guide to being an advocacy chair, and use the information for your own PTA!


Amplifying the PTA voice is easy with the new Social Media Advocacy Chart. Tweet post or share anything in the green column. Think twice before sharing items from the yellow sections and do not share anything from a PTA account if it came from the red column.

Use social media to lift up PTA – you are an advocate and we need your voice!


Volunteers Make a Difference

“Volunteers are at the heart of PTA advocacy. We speak up for all children and families to make a difference at the local, regional, state and national level.” — Lea Darrah, 2017-2019 Director of Legislation

PTA volunteer legislative advocates representing the broad scope of the organization closely monitor pending legislation and testify at public hearings to ensure our voice is heard. The advocates include the director of legislation, state advocates, a federal advocate and consultants with specialized skills. They meet with elected officials and policy-makers, speak at meetings of the California Legislature and carefully monitor both state and federal legislation. Advocacy focus areas include education funding and policy, community and school safety, juvenile justice, child care and early education, children’s health and other issues affecting kids and youth.

Volunteer advocates also analyze statewide ballot measures and determine California State PTA’s position, based upon convention resolutions and other PTA authority. For questions or more information about our legislative advocacy program, please contact the Director of Legislation at

Get Involved

There are several ways you can get involved in our advocacy efforts and help make a difference: