by California State PTA Legislative Advocate Beth Graves-Meyerhoff
Many PTAs coordinate programs and opportunities for their members to advocate directly with their local elected officials. Palos Verdes Peninsula Council of PTAs invited students, teachers and parents to meet with Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi and a representative from State Senator Ben Allen’s office for an afternoon last spring called Capitol Comes to Town.
The civic engagement event provided about 80 students an engaging learning opportunity with guest speakers. Palos Verdes Peninsula High School student, Linus Yeh said, “Capitol Comes to Town was a great opportunity to meet like-minded people, learn about democracy, and simulate it at the same time.”
Assemblymember Muratsuchi said, “I had the opportunity to speak with students and parents about my experiences as a state representative and was extremely impressed with the students’ legislative ideas and questions. Events like these are a healthy reminder of why I continue to make K-12 education one of my top legislative priorities.”
After learning about how bills become laws, the students met in small groups to brainstorm their top needs and ideas for legislation. The majority of student legislative priorities focused on improvements for their aging schools, particularly the school bathrooms, many of which had not been remodeled since the schools were built in the 1950s.
Assemblymember Muratsuchi listened carefully to the students’ concerns about minimal privacy (broken locks and deteriorating partitions), lack of soap supplies and dismal and dark aesthetics. The Assemblymember worked to include a budget request for facilities upgrades into AB 178 and SB 178 which was voted on in June, 2022.
On August 19, 2022, students joined PTA members and district staff to receive $500,000 in state funds, based on the actions Muratsuchi took on AB 178, to significantly improve the aging school facilities with a focus on the restrooms.
Palos Verdes High School student Sophia Kwon said, “I never would have guessed that attending Capitol Comes to Town and speaking about issues that affect our schools would make such a direct impact on our campus facilities funding. It was incredibly empowering to realize that we as students have a voice and the power to make a difference. Thank you Assemblymember Muratsuchi for not only listening but also advocating on our behalf!”
“I heard the students loud and clear, and I was able to secure state funding to help fix this problem. Thank you, students, for speaking up and thank you PTA for your advocacy!” said Assemblymember Muratsuchi.