Plan for a full year of advocacy!

As your PTA develops its plans for the 2023-24 school year, it’s important for education administrators and PTA leaders to nurture PTA advocacy efforts together.  

PTA leaders understand that speaking up for children – the essence of advocacy – is essential to ensure that every child has access to a quality education and the support they need to thrive.  California’s school principals and district superintendents benefit from having robust advocacy efforts supported in their schools because most know that strong family engagement improves education outcomes for students. Working together, parents, PTA leaders, teachers, and administrators can mobilize around actions that will improve the education, health, and well-being of all children and youth.

What’s meaningful to the members of your community?  Advocacy is different at each school.  Policymakers need to hear from their constituents about the impact of their policies.  That’s true at every level, from your local school and district, to city and county governments, to state and federal legislators. Also consider who doesn’t have a seat at the table:  Who are you NOT hearing from?  

Keep in mind that with PTA, you are never alone. Whether it’s grassroots efforts designed to give ordinary people a voice in the political process, or direct advocacy activities to communicate with policy decision makers,  you have an ally in PTA!  You have people who care about what YOU care about. 

California State PTA has policies, experts, tools, and resources to help you make a difference on the issues that concern you. A great place to start is the Advocacy section of the California State PTA website.  Now – at the start of the school year – is the time to engage your volunteer base and leverage your resources. You can amplify your collective voice effectively to benefit your community’s children, youth, and families.  

Start by selecting a PTA leader to head up the advocacy efforts of your PTA unit, council, or district. Make sure that their contact information is submitted to California State PTA so that they can be a part of state-level advocacy programs throughout the year.

Invest in the growth and development of your advocacy program by ensuring that your advocacy leaders and local team members can participate in California State PTA programs that support their efforts.  Examples include advance budgeting and planning to attend the California State PTA Legislation Conference (January 22-23, 2024, in Sacramento), training and workshops available at the California State PTA Convention  (May 3-5, 2024 in Ontario), and utilizing the various online resources and webinars designed to inform, educate, and empower advocates to take action that makes a difference.

Other ways that schools, school districts, and PTA leaders can work together to nurture advocacy efforts in support of common goals include:

Annual LCAP process – Encourage all members of your community to contribute to the development of your Local Control and Accountability Plan by offering multiple opportunities to collect input and listen to what families need from their public schools through local PTAs.  Having PTA host an event at each school can result in more meaningful suggestions coming from a broader cross-section of your community than limited electronic surveys allow.  PTA gatherings can also be helpful in determining the efficacy of LCAP implementations.  

Election Year 2024:  Promote voter engagement – The 2024 California State Primary Election, which will include the presidential primary, takes place early next year.  Promote civic engagement by holding a voter registration drive with a special emphasis on encouraging eligible high school seniors to participate.  Online pre-registration is now available for eligible 16- and 17-year-olds by visiting California youth who pre-register to vote will have their registration become active once they turn 18 years old. Pre-registration does not change the voting age, which is 18. Instead, it allows eligible Californians ages 16 or 17 to complete the online voter registration form providing sufficient time and opportunity to get ready to vote.

All California active registered voters will receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the March 5, 2024, California Primary Election.  The last day to register to vote is February 20, 2024.  You can check your voter status online at

Ballot measures – If your school district is seeking funds through a ballot measure, California State PTA can offer guidance on how your local PTA can help to inform the public about the relevant issues concerning the measure, or even help secure the passage of a local school district facilities bond or local parcel tax election.

Join us!

Both California State PTA and National PTA regularly engage in direct legislative advocacy efforts to effect policy changes that benefit all children.  One of the key ways that parents, teachers, principals, and administrators can contribute to strengthening our collective voice is to be sure to join PTA at the start of each school year.  We’re stronger together!

Legislation Conference Strengthened My Confidence and Connections

By Kathryn Rickard, Student Board Member, California State PTA

When I look back and think about why I applied to become a student member of the California State PTA Board of Managers, I am reminded of the first state PTA Legislation Conference I attended.

Being at the Legislation Conference led me to apply for the Board of Managers because it was the first time I felt important, like my voice really mattered. At the Legislation Conference, you feel connected to other PTA leaders throughout the state. Having a network of connections is a big part of what PTA is all about, and after attending a Legislation Conference as a student, I realized that all PTA leaders want students to succeed. I also realized that despite being deeply involved in my own unit’s PTA, there was a lot more to learn about what PTA is and what PTA stands for. 

In my opinion, the most special aspect of the Legislation Conference is that students are welcome to attend. As a student, it’s not only important to understand what your role in PTA is but to also learn about how you can make a change. At the first Legislation Conference I attended, I got to meet Alex Padilla, California’s first Mexican-American United States Senator. Having the opportunity to meet someone of my heritage, that I can relate to in politics was enlightening and just one of the reasons why the Legislation Conference is so important to me. I think that it can have the same deep meaning to students across the state because when you attend, you can speak your mind, make your passions known, discuss your ideas with legislators, and truly make a difference.

Legislators want to hear from students. They care about what we have to say. Students are some of the most important people at the Legislation Conference because students are impactful. Students are our country’s future and through opportunities like the California State PTA Legislation Conference, students can step into their role as advocates for the health, safety, and well-being of all children. Most importantly, we can step into our role as advocates for our future.

Learn more about the California State PTA Annual Legislation Conference, here.

The Legislation Conference Turned Me Into an Advocate

By Jade Chao, Immediate Past President, Palo Alto Council of PTAs

I first heard about a conference focusing on advocacy and legislation through my local PTA. As a relatively new volunteer in my children’s middle school and not knowing exactly what I might experience, I said, “Yes! I’ll go.” I trusted PTA parents like Nancy Krop who urged me to attend the California State PTA Legislation Conference.

At my first conference I met many new people and listened to some of the most experienced and knowledgeable speakers about subjects that directly impact our children. What really impressed me was the way we could meet our state legislators in Sacramento and talk with them 1-on-1. I quickly made new friends, forged alliances, and learned advocacy skills that would later prove to be valuable.

When I returned to my local PTA, I became aware of an urgent issue involving vaping and flavored tobacco. We took up the issue and mapped out an advocacy plan using skills I had learned from the conference. This included plans to go to Sacramento and talk to various legislators. Erwin Morton taught me how to walk the halls of the Capitol building and speak to anyone willing to listen, with or without an appointment. It was truly democracy in action.

In 2020, the Palo Alto PTA Council brought forth a resolution titled Teen Health & eCigarettes. I used the knowledge and tools I gleaned from the Leg Conference, quickly put together a team and the team sprung into action. My fellow conference attendees were thrilled to join me to meet with legislators and they strongly supported us by joining us in the legislators’ offices. It was actually fun to be so actively engaged in the democratic process — this is something that other countries can only dream of doing. Here we were actually making democracy happen.

The Leg Conference is a super well-organized, well-designed conference to onboard new volunteers. You will get the most out of a very short 2-day conference. Friendship alone is well worth the effort. Meeting and networking with like minded volunteers and being able to speak on our children’s behalf was a bonus. If you have attended this conference, you know what I am talking about. If you have never attended this conference — well, you are missing out! Go! Get yourself approved from your local PTA to attend. You won’t regret it!

Why Should You Attend the 2021 California State PTA Legislation Conference?

Have you considered attending Leg Con 2021, but are still on the fence? Well, here are five reasons that will convince you that attending is DEFINITELY worthwhile:

  1. This is our first-ever virtual Legislation Conference — don’t you want to be able to say that you were at the very first? 
  2. You don’t have to be a policy expert or an advocacy rock star to get great benefit from the conference. The Legislation Conference is designed to meet the needs of everyone — from an advocacy novice to a policy wonk. Everyone will find something of value at the conference.
  3. There is so much to learn! Participants in the conference learn about various ways to advocate at the local and state level, hear about important issues that affect students around the state, and hear from policymakers in Sacramento.   
  4. Meet and network with leaders from across the state. One of the best things about the Legislation Conference is meeting other leaders who care about children and families as much as you do! 
  5. Students can attend too! Is your high schooler passionate about a cause, do they want to learn more about how our government works or how they can help make change? Students are always welcomed at the Legislation Conference.

Registration is now open! Click here for more information:

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