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.
by Heath & Community Concerns and Family Engagement Commissions
Parents Need to Know Why Attendance is Vital
About forty percent of parents underestimate how many school absences their child has and the impact those lost days have on their child’s success.
That is just one of the startling facts California State PTA Commissioners heard when we attended a recent webinar, “Generation Absent : Post-Covid Fall-Out and Long-Term Fixes.” It was a chance for all of us to learn more about Attendance Awareness Month and learn why it is critically important to help families understand the challenges that chronically absent students face. (Note: the official state definition of chronically absent is missing ten percent or more of school, or about 18 days in the typical 180-day school year.)
During the course of the conversation, the presenters shared some tips and best practices to help schools, local PTAs, and families work together to improve student attendance. Here are some of our favorites:
- Attendance is a process not an event– you must keep a focus on it all year long.
- Promote attendance facts everywhere– on social media, at Back to School Night, at enrollment events, during campus events and in your PTA meetings.
- Recognition of kids who are attending as well as students who are improving their attendance is really important. Mailing home attendance recognitions, such as brightly colored postcards or letters, grab families’ attention and are often a point of pride.
For more information about student attendance visit our website.
California students may soon be able to get official state recognition for the work they do to support their local PTSAs and schools. An item before the State Board of Education on September 10 establishes the criteria by which local school districts can award their students the State Seal of Civic Engagement.
The State Board is adopting criteria intended to guide local school districts in crafting their own requirements for awarding the seal. Districts will have to opt into the program and the first step will be developing their requirements, using the state criteria as a framework. Those criteria include being on track to complete required high school coursework and understanding the basics of US and California government.
To earn the seal, however, students also have to participate in one or more projects that address real-world problem and demonstrate that in doing so they looked at the problem from multiple perspectives, took action, and reflected on how their efforts would impact others in their community. Sounds like PTA activism to me!
The criteria also require students to write about or present what they learned and get a recommendation regarding their civic-mindedness and commitment from someone in their school or community.
Over the next few months a group of civic-minded groups will be putting out more information about the State Seal and encouraging California’s school district superintendents to develop local plans for its implementation. Your voice — and support from your local PTA — can help elevate the importance of the State Seal of Civic Engagement in your local school and district.
This video produced by GenUp, a group dedicated to student leadership and civic engagement, features students explaining why the State Seal of Civic Engagement is important.
This article was written by Mary Perry, the California State PTA liaison to the State Board of Education.
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