PTA’s mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by ENGAGING and EMPOWERING families and communities to ADVOCATE for all children. LEARN MORE ABOUT: History of PTA, Membership Benefits, Advocacy, Legislative Priorities, Family Engagement, Bylaws and Parliamentary Procedure, Commonly Asked Questions
What is PTA? PTA is a national nonprofit association that has dedicated itself to advancing the well being of children, youth, and families for more than 100 years. PTA is a strong advocate for public education, a vital resource for families and a powerful voice for children. Children are PTA’s focus and we speak for every child. As a local PTA member, you are part of National PTA and join more than 5 million members nationwide. Each local unit is also part of Georgia PTA, which has more than 950 local units representing almost 300,000 members. National and Georgia PTAs supply local units with information and resources that help your members contribute to the nationwide effort to improve the health, safety, welfare and education of every child. PTA districts and councils within Georgia further support local units to create a closer connection at the regional or local level.
Our History Did you know that National PTA was originally organized as the National Congress of Mothers in 1897 and was the dream of Marietta, Georgia native Alice McLellan Birney? She was extremely sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate and aspired to build a better world for children. In 1897, Mrs. Birney met Phoebe Apperson Hearst, who helped her transform her dream into reality. The two planned the first “convention”, that was held on February 17, 1897, in Washington D.C. They had hoped for an assembly of 200 mothers to discuss the plight of children. Imagine their surprise when over 2,000 showed up! And it wasn’t just mothers, but fathers, doctors, lawyers and legislators who came to express their concerns for children. One of the first resolutions passed at the convention called for kindergarten in all public schools. Mrs. Hearst’s concern was for education of the very young; she realized early education could determine a child’s entire future. Mrs. Hearst had founded the first free kindergarten in 1883. Selena Sloan Butler, also a Georgia native, founded and became the first president of The Georgia Colored Congress of Parents and Teachers (NCCPT). The NCCPT was formed to function in states that legally mandated segregation. The mission of the National Congress of Parents and Teachers was to protect the rights of all children irrespective of color. Mrs. Butler believed more needed to be done. She dedicated her life to forming an organization with the primary purpose of uniting home and school into a planned program for child welfare. The two organizations, National Congress of Mothers and NCCPT ultimately united as one in the National PTA. Throughout the its history of over 100 years, PTA has advocated for numerous issues ranging from sex education (1897), child labor laws (1900s), automobile and school bus safety (1930s), founding the school lunch program (1940s), field testing the polio vaccine (1950s), toy safety (1960s), opposing violence on television (1970s), HIV/AIDS education (1980s) to developing National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement programs (1990s). These issues represent only a small sampling of the advocacy efforts of the PTA. The reason PTA was founded is still the same reason it exists today...children need us. We urge you to join other PTA members throughout the state of Georgia as we continue the work begun by our founders over one hundred years ago. Lend your voice to our voice—collectively we can make an immeasurable difference for all children.
Why Join PTA Enjoy the Benefits The number one reason to join the Parent Teacher Association is to benefit your child. In doing so, you also help your school. But there are many more advantages. Here are just a few: Get Connected. There’s no better way to know what’s happening in your school. Discover Great Resources. The PTA offers a variety of programs designed for parents as well as students. Tap into a Network. Parenting is not easy— it helps to share ideas, concerns and experiences with other parents and educators in the community. PTA functions are opportunities to meet other parents and teachers, building rapport and discussing issues that are on your mind. Watch Yourself Grow. By volunteering with your PTA, you gain valuable experiences. It’s an opportunity to put your skills and hobbies to good use for a good cause-your child and all children in the community. Speak Up. Because the PTA is a forum for exchanging ideas, you are encouraged to make suggestions. PTA can be a way for you to more effectively suggest change at your child’s school. Witness Improvement. By getting involved at your child’s school you’ll be part of the solution, helping make positive changes. Local PTAs play an important role in fundraising to provide building improvements, curriculum-based programs, and social events-all vital to a school’s success. Be a Role Model. By becoming a PTA member, you’ll be demonstrating to your child the importance you place on education.
Why We Advocate Part of the National PTA’s threefold mission is to speak on behalf of all children and youth before governmental bodies and other organizations. For over 100 years, PTA volunteers have used their time, energy, experience and knowledge to bring about changes in laws, policies and programs for the benefit of children. In order to maintain a nonprofit status under federal rules, the Georgia PTA is nonpartisan and works to direct its efforts at members of both political parties in order to enact change. When PTA officers or lobbyists participate in legislative activities that educate lawmakers about officially adopted PTA positions, or support a particular piece of legislation that is in agreement with the PTA Legislative Program, it is done on a strictly nonpartisan basis.
What is Advocacy? Advocacy can be broken down into basic parts: the Advocate, theb Issue, the Act and the Decision-maker. • Anyone who speaks for another is an advocate. PTA members are advocates for children and their parents. • PTA members advocate on a wide variety of child-related issues: education, health, nutrition, safety, juvenile protection, welfare reform, parent and family life, and drug abuse prevention, to name a few. • Advocacy is simply communicating about an issue for which PTA has adopted a position by speaking, writing, phoning, faxing or emailing. The purpose of the communication can be to inform, educate, persuade or increase the level of awareness about the issue. • The decision-maker is any individual or body that has the power to address the issue or solve the problem. Decision-makers include elected and appointed officials, legislative bodies, school boards, county commissioners, and judges. Every PTA member can be an effective advocate. The process is always the same: identify, research and understand the issue; identify, research and understand the decision-maker; and develop and communicate the message. The process is not always easy, and dedication and perseverance are usually required. Sometimes success is achieved quickly, sometimes slowly.
Knowledge is Power: 10 Tips for Effective Advocacy 1.
Know your issue. A thorough understanding of the issue is critical. Get the facts, complete research, read articles, consult the experts. Be sure you define the issue properly— otherwise you cannot identify the appropriate remedy. Know your goals. Set realistic goals that can be accomplished. Know your limitations. Assess your organization’s abilities and resources and be sure you are not exceeding your limits. Figure out how much time and how many individuals will need to be involved and determine whether your needs can be met by existing resources. Know the level of membership support. Many important issues may not gain widespread support. Issues that address the concerns of the membership and present a likelihood of success will motivate more people to act. Know your allies. Identify and reach out to individuals or groups that might support your position on the issue. The broader the support for an issue, the greater the chance for success. Know your opposition. Identify potential opposition and understand opposing arguments. Determine the resources of the opposition and gauge how powerful they may be.
Know your obstacles. Even if there is no organized opposition to an issue, there may be obstacles. Funding is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving success. Sometimes the obstacle may be an existing law or policy that needs to be changed. Identifying obstacles will help you assess the feasibility of achieving your goals. 8. Know your decision-maker. Identify who has the power to help you resolve your issue. It could be a school board member, a legislator, a county commissioner, or another elected official. Once the appropriate individual or body has been identified, learn all you can about that individual or body. 9. Know your message. Design an effective message that is simple and understandable. Tailor your message to the audience and keep the message consistent. Make sure every messenger carries the same message. 10. Know your ultimate purpose. Always keep in mind the reason you are involved— to improve the lives of children. Don’t get so caught up in the issues that you fail to advocate effectively for children.
Georgia PTA Legislative Priorities 2011-2012 Support Student Achievement: • Support multiple criteria be used to determine promotion and retention and not rely on the results of a single test • Support efforts to increase the graduation rate in Georgia • Support efforts to increase the age a student can drop out of school • Support a full-time school nurse in every school and other health initiatives because healthy children learn better
Support Family Engagement: • Support multiple opportunities for parent/caregiver involvement in decisions regarding school policies and curriculum
Support Adequate Funding for Education: • Support public K-12 schools with adequate state funding, reflective of the actual costs of providing the state-defined services • Support equitable distribution of state funding to K-12 schools • Support public funding for K-12 education in public schools exclusively • Oppose any efforts to use public funds for private schools
Support Local Control/Local Decision Making: • Support local property tax and education SPLOST tax revenue be under the control of the local Board of Education • Support the right of local Boards of Education to manage and control local public schools
Support Health and Safety: • Support efforts to reduce bullying • Support efforts to reduce childhood obesity Be an advocate for every child! What does Georgia PTA do with the priorities? Priorities form the basis of Georgia PTA’s efforts with the Georgia General Assembly and Congress. Georgia PTA monitors all legislation and policy issues affecting children and youth, including K-12 education, postsecondary education, PreK, child health and safety, gun safety, teen driving and underage drinking. Our priorities receive most of our attention; however, Georgia PTA responds to any legislation covered by our position statements.
Family Engagement PTA Family Engagement Definition Georgia PTA believes 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. Family engagement is continuous across a child’s life and entails enduring commitment but changing parent roles as children mature into young adulthood. Effective family engagement cuts across and reinforces learning in the multiple settings where children learn at home, in pre-kindergarten programs, in school, in after school programs, in faith-based institutions and in the community.
State BOE Unanimously Approves First Statewide Parent Engagement Resolution! Wednesday, November 10, 2010 was an historical day for Georgia. At the State Board of Education Meeting in Atlanta, board members voted unanimously to adopt the “Parent Engagement Resolution”, the first of its kind in our great state. This resolution and statement on parent engagement urges all local school officials to use them (resolution and statement) as a guide in developing local school and district plans and policies. Several members of the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council, and members of the Georgia PTA Family Engagement and Legislative Committees were in attendance. President Elect Donna Kosicki spoke in support of the Parent Engagement Resolution, citing “The National Standards for Family-School Partnerships are identified by states, around this country, as the qualitative assessment data that schools, parents and community need to include, along with quantitative date, when determining the programs, projects and events that drive measurable priorities for increasing student achievement to be used in the classroom and in the local school community.” State Chair Wanda Barrs declared, “This is really a beginning. of a real focus on the partnership (between school and home). Two important questions parents and teachers should ask each other is ‘How can I help you help my child be successful?’ and ‘How can I help you to help your child be successful?’” Together we, school —parents—community, can work together to better understand the value and benefits of and the connection to effective engagement and academic achievement for all children.
Blueprint for Success BYLAWS Bylaws are the fundamental governing rules of a PTA. The bylaws of a PTA contain basic rules relating to the association as an organization in order to conduct the unit’s business and govern its affairs. These bylaws define the primary characteristics of the organization, prescribe how the association functions, and include all rules that the association considers important to the rights and responsibilities of the membership, whether present or absent from the assembly. The provisions contained in the bylaws determine the amount of control the members and assembly are to retain and the powers and limitations of powers to be allowed officers, boards and committees. The bylaws of an organization are always superior to and supersede the procedures and parliamentary authority of the entity. One always looks first in local unit and council PTA bylaws for a ruling on any question, then to procedures, and finally in Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised.
ARTICLES Since local PTAs are organized and chartered by Georgia PTA and are units of the National PTA, certain articles are included in every local association’s bylaws. These articles include Name, Articles of Organization, Purpose, Basic Policies, Relationship with National and Georgia PTA, Members and Dues, Officers and Their Election, Duties of Officers, Meetings, Board of Directors, Standing and Special Committees, Council Membership, Fiscal Year, Parliamentary Authority and Amendments. Also, certain sections within articles are included in all local associations’ bylaws.
PARLIAMENTARY PROCEDURE PTA meetings are conducted according to parliamentary procedure, which is simply a set of rules for conducting organized meetings. Following parliamentary procedure lets the PTA accomplish its goals fairly while protecting all members’ rights. It calls for you to 1) consider one thing at a time, 2) follow the rule of the majority, 3) ensure justice and courtesy for all, and partiality for none and 4) reserve the right of the minority to be heard. The president should appoint a parliamentarian and keep a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised handy at all meetings. Asking for help is not only allowed, it is expected and encouraged. With practice, parliamentary procedure helps PTA members make tough decisions together and remain friends in the process.
What is Reflections? Reflections is an arts recognition program of the National PTA that begins at the local unit level and progresses through councils and state PTA onto National PTA. Reflections provides children in preschool through grade 12 with an opportunity to express themselves in six areas: literature, musical composition, photography, visual arts, dance choreography and film/video. The Reflections theme is suggested by students in an annual theme search and changes each year.
Commonly Asked Questions What is The Model PTA? The Model PTA is a program, developed by Georgia PTA, which guides local unit PTA/PTSAs to fulfill the requirements to be “in good standing,” and defines two levels of criteria for developing the process of effective parent involvement and advocacy in your school community.
Who should attend Georgia PTA events? Any member is welcome to attend events and participate in training—whether it is Convention Leadership Training, PTA Day at the Capitol, State Advocacy Conference, PTA University, District Conference, etc. We highly encourage officers and board members, as well as school administrators and teachers, to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered by Georgia and National PTA throughout the year.
Can our unit have family memberships? No. Members join on an individual basis.
Does PTA have financial and fundraising guidelines? The success of a PTA and its ability to serve children and achieve its goals—whether at the local, council, district, state or national level—depends on keeping financial matters in order. PTA guidelines exist to prevent problems and protect the assets of the PTA—the funds, volunteers and good name of the PTA and school. They are not designed to be restrictive or cumbersome, but rather proactive, serving as a means to safeguard your unit, PTA volunteers and work for children. Note: Effective 2008, the IRS requires all 501(c)(3) nonprofits to file the appropriate IRS Form 990 regardless of the gross income amount.
Why should our PTA be incorporated? By incorporating, a PTA legally insulates or protects its officers and volunteers from being personally liable or responsible for a PTA’s debts or obligations. All PTAs are strongly encouraged to incorporate.
Does our PTA need insurance, and if so, what kind? YES. Ask yourself and your unit’s volunteers, “Are we willing to volunteer without these protections?” Every PTA should have four types of insurance: FIDELITY BONDING insurance covers individuals handling funds and PTA financial assets. GENERAL LIABILITY coverage protects PTA members in the event they are held legally liable for bodily injury or property damage resulting from a covered event. For example, if someone gets hurt at your fall festival and sues. DIRECTORS AND OFFICERS insurance provides protection if an officer/director is sued for failure, or alleged failure, to live up to their responsibilities and duties assumed in their PTA position. PROPERTY insurance covers fixed assets; inventory and other property owned by a PTA, such as a storage unit, its contents, fundraiser orders pending delivery, etc
Learn more at www.georgiapta.org or call us at 404-659-0214.
Created by Georgia PTA, this informative piece answers questions about the history of PTA, membership, advocacy, family engagement, Reflecti...