The Voice Winter 2017

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Learn what’s happening during the 85th Legislative Session

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Learn about how a Council of PTA’s took advocacy into their own hands at the grassroots level & made an impact

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It may be winter, but spring and summer are not that far away. Read about ways to enjoy Summer 2017!

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hange is both a noun and a verb. But either way it is the act of becoming different. There are many quotes about change and I believe all of us have heard one or two of them from a variety of sources. And those quotes are as varied as they are inspirational. Regardless, change in reality, for the majority if not all of us, is hard. Why we do we resist? Rosabeth Kanter, cites 10 reasons in an article in the September 2012 Harvard Business Review. Those reasons range from loss of control, departure from the past, an increased workload, and ripple effects. The one that caught my attention was that “it’s easier to say no, than yes.”

It may be easier to say no, but it doesn’t feel good. Think about the times that as a parent, when you told your child no, when it didn’t impact their safety or security. You were just tired, frustrated, or perhaps felt like winning a battle. Did you feel excited, energetic or happiness bubble up inside of you? Probably not. And yet when you said yes, maybe even spontaneously, it was exhilarating. Change is powerful and cathartic. Texas PTA has experienced a tremendous amount of change in the last few years. We have initiated a new governance structure, reevaluated and simplified our processes and guiding documents to allow more flexibility, created and maintained brand awareness, and dedicated ourselves to first-class service to our grassroots leaders and volunteers. And there will be more as the months unfold. Why, you might ask? The answer is simple: We must. When Ella Caruthers Porter founded what was then the Texas Congress of Mothers in October 1909, she was an innovator, bringing forth new and groundbreaking ideas. Texas PTA must honor her work by doing the same. And yet, we must never lose focus on who we are at our core. We are and will always be the largest member-based association that through family engagement and parent empowerment, advocate for over 5,000,000 children in the Texas public education school system. I hope you will join me as we continue our metamorphosis, emerging from our chrysalis, beautiful, bright, and poised to fly to new heights. Lisa Holbrook President 2

Texas Parent Teacher Association The Voice


Texas PTA would like to welcome you to the new website! Our assoiciation’s website is the digital hub of all our communications to volunteers across the state who are working every day to back the future and make every child’s potential a reality.

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State Advocacy Legislative Session CFB ISD Advocacy Winter Recipes Texas Summer Texas PTA Website New PTAs

Why is PTA Different? The most commonly asked question we get at Texas PTA – why is PTA different? This will be the first part of a series of short articles addressing that very question. For us to sustain and grow membership and to retain excitement in our association, it’s critical for PTA leaders and members to fully understand “why” PTA is different. The better we understand, the more we can inspire others to back the future. Reason # 1 PTA’s reach is beyond one campus. Joining once has the triple effect – a voice at the national, state and local levels. PTA’s rich, 100-plus years in existence make us the proven child advocacy association. Whether making our voices be heard at city hall, school district administration, the Texas State Capitol or the United States Capitol, PTA has a track record for bringing attention to the need for change and getting things changed. PTA is all about kids, so everything we do must answer this fundamental question, “What did we do for students today?” PTA – the “A” makes a difference.

Kyle Ward, CAE Executive Director 3

THE VOICE Winter 2017 • Vol. 108 408 West 11th Austin, TX 78701 • EDITORIAL TEAM Executive Director Kyle Ward, CAE Associate Executive Director Darren Grissom Creative Design Specialist Rolando Sepulveda Digital Media Specialist Kristin McCasland TEXAS PTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS President Lisa Holbrook President-Elect Sheri Doss Secretary LaDorshe Damron Treasurer Lisa Johns Vice President Programs & Resources Sylvia R. Reyna, Ph.D. Vice President Membership Larriann Curtis Vice President Leadership Heather Ashwell-Hair Vice President Field Service Suzi Kennon Directors-at-Large Lee Guerra Fred Henley, J.D. Neil Shelby Lizeth LoCicero Ralph Rodriguez Tim Greenwell

The Voice, the official publication of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, is published four times a year in fall, winter, spring and summer. Call 1-800-TALK-PTA or visit us on the web for more information. Disclaimer: Articles and advertisements in The Voice do not necessarily represent the viewpoints or policies of Texas PTA. Texas PTA does not endorse non-PTA products or services mentioned in this publication. Reprint permission: Unless otherwise noted, PTAs may reproduce and distribute the materials from The Voice without express written permission. Texas PTA materials may not be duplicated by any other organization or person without written permission from the editor.

TEA Releases Indicators for A-F Rating System Texas Education Agency has provided districts with a list of indicators that will be used to determine school and district A-F letter-grade ratings in the revamped public school accountability system that goes into effect in 201718, with the first ratings issued in August 2018. The Agency will release a report to the Texas Legislature by January 1 that shows the accountability ratings that each district and campus would have received for the 2015-16 school year if the A-F rating system had been in place. Development of the new accountability system will continue — with additional input from stakeholders — until spring 2018, when the final rules are adopted


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Committee Begins the Conversation: Using the Rainy Day Fund The Economic Stabilization Fund, known by many as the Rainy Day Fund, is the state’s savings account, money set aside for use when the economy takes a downturn to stabilize the state’s budget until the economy recovers. Rep. John Zerwas, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, has expressed interest in tapping this fund. It has a balance of over $10 billion and will grow to near $12 billion by the end of the next two-year budget cycle. The fund has $4 billion to $7 billion more than the Texas comptroller’s office says is needed to maintain the good will of credit rating agencies.

Senate Begins Work to Overhaul School Finance The Senate Finance Committee established a work group to develop a plan for overhauling the state’s system of school funding. Led by Senator Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, also the Senate’s chairman of the Education Committee, The work group will be meeting to develop a plan for school funding reform. In the House, Speaker Straus has included $1.5 billion in the base budget for school finance reform.

Senate Announces Voucher Bill Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick announced an omnibus school voucher bill, SB 3 by Sen. Larry Taylor, that includes three types of programs that may be used by families on costs outside the public education system, which are Education savings accounts, Tax credit scholarship program, and a smaller program to provide up to $500 for students who want to stay in public schools to pay for extra academic support including tutoring and transportation to other districts. Patrick has tied school funding reform to vouchers, indicating the Senate will not approve a school funding bill unless a voucher bill passes too. Texas PTA opposes voucher programs. 5

The Texas Legislative Session Has Begun The 85th Texas Legislature began on January 10, 2017 and Texas PTA is hard at work making sure that we give a voice to the children of Texas. We have until late May to achieve our goals, including reforming the current system of public education funding, prohibiting the sale or use of powdered alcohol by minors, strengthening cyberbullying laws to protect our children and youth, prohibiting voucher programs.

School Funding Over a dozen bills have been filed to address various aspects of the current system of funding public schools. Texas PTA will be following these bills very closely and advocating for a more equitable and adequate system of funding. Ban on Powdered Alcohol for Minors Texas PTA will pursue banning the sale to minors of powdered alcohol, a powder that can be mixed with liquids -- similar to the way Kool-Aid is mixed with water -- to create an alcoholic beverage that can have alcohol levels equivalent to a shot of vodka. House Legislation filed: HB 133 by Rep. Carol Alvarado


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Strengthening Laws Related Bullying To Include Cyberb The main difference between tr cyberbullying is that the offend carry out the bullying. Texas P the cyberbullying law to protec anonymous, bullying by clarifyi and other officials in addressin barriers by dealing with offend SB 180 and SB 181 by Sen. J filed: HB 304, HB 305 and HB

d To bullying raditional bullying and der relies on technology to PTA will work to strengthen ct students from online, often ing the role of school districts ng this behavior, and removing ders. Senate Bills filed: SB 179, Jose Menendez. House Bills B 306 by Rep. Ina Minjarez

Limiting State-Mandated Assessment To Those Required By Federal Law HB 5 reduced the required 15 high school end of course (EOC) tests to 5. No changes were made to elementary and middle school STAAR tests at that time. This session, Texas PTA will advocate for reduced emphasis on state-mandated testing for grades 3-8, and monitor changes to STAAR for high school students, and limits on benchmark testing for all tested grades. Senate Bill filed: SB 215 by Sen. Jose Menendez House Bill filed: HB 515 by Rep. Gary Van Deaver Full Day Pre-Kindergarten For

Students Who Are At Risk For Not Being Prepared For School Seek funding for full day pre-k for at-risk students to ensure that they are fully prepared for success in kindergarten and first grade, and for a strong K-12 school experience. House Legislation filed: HB 196 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez. Senate Legislation filed: SB 35 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini Raising The Age Of Criminal Responsibility From 17 To 18 Raise the age for mandatory prosecution as an adult from 17 to 18, allowing non-violent offenders who are 17 years of age to be charged as a minor. House Legislation filed: HB 122 by Rep. Harold Dutton Prohibiting Vouchers by Constitutional Amendment Oppose vouchers, including Education Savings Account Programs (ESA Programs) and Tax Credit Scholarship Programs that allow state funds to be utilized in private schools that are not accountable to the taxpayer or the state. House Legislation filed: HJR 24 by Rep. Richard Raymond Visit to sign up for alerts, find your elected officials and access the most current status on any bill throughout the session.


More Than Fundraisers: How One Council Fought to Save its Schools

By Kristin McCasland Texas PTA Digital Media Specialist


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argaret Meade once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District Council of PTAs proved this statement true. Earlier this year, National PTA honored the Council with the 2017 Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award “for its commitment to being a powerful voice for all children and a strong advocate for public education.” Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD (CFBISD) ranks in the top 10 of the largest 200 school districts in Texas for providing a top-rate education at a relatively low cost. However, like most public schools in Texas, CFBISD also faces financial challenges due to significant cuts in education funding made by the Texas Legislature in 2011, said Catherine Carlin, President of CFBISD Council of PTAs. Many districts had to rely on their reserves to cover shortfalls caused by increasing costs. It maintained high achievement for several years despite those cuts to the state budget, Carlin said. However, the CFBISD’s savings account dwindled, which meant something needed to happen and in Texas, there are only three ways a district can raise funds: 1. Increase funding through Legislative action; 2. Increase the number of students being served by the district; 3. Increase the tax rate. The school district administration requests a Tax Ratification Election (TRE), and the school board votes to place it on the ballot. 9

“I think it’s easier to get people involved when the results of their efforts directly affect someone living under their roof – it’s relevant and real and ‘in our back yard.’”


he district chose the TRE because of the three options to increase funding, the TRE was the only element they could control. “We couldn’t recruit enough new students to compensate, and we don’t have direct control over legislative action to restore funding. So, our administration requested a TRE from the school board, and the board voted to place it on the (Nov. 8) ballot for the voters to decide,” Carlin said. However, the supporters faced opposition. “Raising taxes is a tough sell in our district because of staunch fiscal conservative/ tea-party leanings – plus over 75% of the households do not have school-age children,” Carlin said. “A further complication is that appraisal values increased greatly, so homeowners were already hit with higher taxes (although the school district doesn’t receive any of this increase due to Texas’ school funding scheme).”


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The opposition leadership was organized and well-funded, Carlin said. Much of their campaign contributions – as well as quite a bit of consulting and influence – came from outside sources -- including outsiders who had worked other local elections that defeated their TREs. Per Carlin, this opposition PAC hired people to greet voters at the poll on election day and hand out their materials – individuals who did not live in the community and had to go off a script, she said. To fight back, the Council used its communication channels to recruit grassroots advocates. “(We) took the opportunity to educate the community on school funding, the need for a TRE and the possible consequences if it didn’t pass,” Carlin said. “And we went through the process of crafting a position statement in favor of the TRE – put it out to our Locals for their approval, and ultimately received official approval from the Locals (via a Council meeting) to approve the Council’s position. I think it’s easier to get people involved when the results of their efforts directly affect someone living under their roof – it’s relevant and real and ‘in our back yard.’”

On November 8, 2016, the TRE passed, which means property taxes increased by 11 cents per every $100 in property value. To put that in perspective, a homeowner whose house has a taxable value of $200,000, this rate means an increase of $220 per year – $18.33 a month or $4.23 a week – the cost of a Starbucks coffee. In addition, Carlin believes the following contributed to the success of their campaign: • Stated well-informed on Texas school financing • The Council attended school board meetings for years leading up to the decision, which made them a reliable and dependable source of truthful information. • Their primary role was to educate the voters and let them decide how to vote. • They vowed to act ethically, truthfully and respectfully in all aspects of the campaign. The Council believes this, along with their knowledge of the issues, gained a lot of trust in the community. • Because they were both well-informed and trusted, they could point out misleading and blatant misinformation by the opposition.

• They also spread the message that everyone in the community – not just parents – are stakeholders in how the schools perform. Great schools = great communities. That message resonated. Most of the voters don’t have students in school, so it was a challenge asking people to pay more taxes for someone else’s student. • And they relied heavily upon their Local units to spread the word: “Like” and “Share” our Facebook posts, include our articles newsletters and email flyers to members. They relied heavily on social media. Carlin said their opposition really didn’t understand the power of social media. Carlin believes every effective advocacy campaign has to make the issue specific, relevant and personal. “’Doing it for the greater good” isn’t as effective as “you will now have to pay a fee for your child to participate in orchestra’,” she said. “I also think that having an official/adopted PTA position is key – we were able to tell our voters ‘PTA says vote yes,’ which has much more credibility/authority than ‘Jane says vote yes,’ which, to no surprise, is how Texas/National PTA gets the attention of our legislators!”




Cranberry sauce muffins

Ingredients 2 (2-count) packages Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Pie Crusts 4 cups or 2 (21-ounce) cans pie filling (cherry, blueberry, apple, peach, etc.) 1 egg, whisked

INGREDIENTS: 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 cup + 3 tablespoons rolled oats (reserve the 3 tablespoons for the tops) 1/2 cup brown sugar 1 tablespoon baking powder Directions 1/2 teaspoon baking soda Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 12 muffin cups with cooking spray. 1/2 teaspoon salt Roll out a single pie crust on a flat surface. Use a large cookie 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon cutter or any sort of circular lid to cut out a 4-inch circle of dough. 1 1/2 cups leftover cranberry sauce Press each dough circle into the bottom of a muffin tin so that a tiny 1/2 cup milk (can substitute almond milk) rim of dough remains sticking out the top. Repeat with remaining 1/3 cup vegetable oil dough to fill all 12 muffin cups. 1 egg Fill each cup with about 1/4 cup pie filling, or until the filling nearly fills the cups. Use the remaining dough to cover the tops of each pie. To make a lattice crust, use a knife or pizza cutter to cut out thin strips of dough, then lace together to form a lattice. To make a standard crust, cut out a circle of dough just large enough to cover the top of the crust. Use your fingers to gently press the top crust to the bottom crust until they stick together and no gaps remain.

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup standard-size muffin tin (or add liners). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cranberry sauce, milk, vegetable oil and egg. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir just until blended. Divide the batter between Use a pastry brush to brush the tops of each pie with the whisked the 12 muffin cups – about 3/4 to all the way full. egg. Then bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden Sprinkle with the three tablespoons oats. and the filling begins to bubble. Remove and let cool for at least Bake for 20 minutes or until tops spring back when you touch 15 minutes. Then very carefully use a knife to loosen the edges of them and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out dry. each pie and gently lift each pie out. Serve immediately or cover Let cool for about five minutes. Serve. and refrigerate.


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Homey & Hearty

Turkey Pot Pie

Ham & Cheese waffles

INGREDIENTS 2 tablespoons unsalted butter Coupons 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 small onion, diced 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels 1/2 cup frozen diced carrots 1/2 cup frozen peas 1/3 cup all-purpose flour 1 cup chicken broth 3/4 cup milk 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 2 cups chopped leftover Thanksgiving turkey 1 puff pastry sheet, cut into four 4 1/4-inch squares 1 large egg, beaten

Ingredients 1 cup flour 1 tablespoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda pinch of salt 1/3 stick butter, melted 1 cup buttermilk 2 egg whites, whipped 1/2 cup ham, diced 1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil four 10-ounce ramekins or coat with nonstick spray. To make the filling, melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, corn, carrots and peas and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions become translucent, about 2 minutes. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in chicken broth, milk and thyme, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in turkey; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide the filling evenly into the ramekins. Top with puff pastry and gently cut 4 vents in the top of the crust. Brush each crust with the beaten egg. Place into oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.

Directions In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk until combined. Set aside. Whisk together melted butter and buttermilk, and add to the dry mixture. Mix slightly. Whip your egg whites until stiff peaks begin to form. Fold into the waffle mixture along with the ham and cheese. Mix until just incorporated. Cook on high setting in your greased, hot waffle iron for 5-8 minutes, or until waffles begin to brown and are crisped to your liking. (Cook time will vary based on type of waffle iron.) Serve with maple syrup, jam, or powdered sugar and enjoy! Tip: Once you remove the waffle, place it on a cooling rack for a couple of minutes so the steam doesn’t moisten the waffle. You can also place them directly onto your oven rack and into the oven at 200 F to ensure they’re crisp until serving.


Ain’t Nothing Like Summer in Texas By Karen Burnell Texas PTA Healhty Lifestyles Liaison


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ven though some parts of Texas might still have another frosty night or two, it’s never too early to start thinking of ways to be active while staying cool this summer. What?? Physical activity in the hot Texas heat? It may seem like an oxymoron to most, but don’t let those triple digit temps deter you from staying active year-round! We may think that a neighborhood pool is our best bet for beating the heat, but consider all the other wet and wild options Texas has to offer: Tube a River: You may consider tubing more of a college kid’s vacay, but it can be a family-friendly pastime. Floating the river can also keep you cool as you move. That’s right get a workout in while you tube! You can “run” with your legs underwater, test your balance while doing pushups on the tube, or try to swim while pulling the tube with your feet. It might look a little silly, but who cares?! Does anyone ever look graceful in a tube? Tip: Go earlier in the morning or on a weekday to avoid the rowdier college crowds. Go Fishing: Saltwater – check! Freshwater – check! Again, the variety of Texas waters has fishing covered. Whether you are wading in the bay, casting in a lake, or deep sea fishing in the ocean – fishing can be a cool and fun way to keep the family active. Hit the Beach: With over 600 miles of shoreline, there is no shortage of sand and waves! Instead of laying on a towel soaking up the sun, join the kids in building sand castles, tossing a ball around, or have a barefoot race in the sand to really get that heart rate up. Then go take a well-earned dip in the ocean! Swim in a Natural Waterpark: Most of us know of or have been to a waterpark before, but what about the natural ones that are all over Texas? These spring-fed “swimming holes” stay much cooler than the concrete ones we’re used to, and they offer a more scenic view. Consider taking a short hike in the morning before jumping in from a nature-made diving board in the afternoon.

Not a fan of water? Try out some of these non-traditional, landlover ways to be physically active while staying cool: Web-Based Brain Breaks: These are great for a quick, getyour-wiggles out, kind of activity when you’ve spent the entire afternoon inside because it’s 105 degrees…again. Free websites, such as Go Noodle, lead your kiddos through fun activities straight from your computer or smartphone. Or make it family challenge to do one every hour, and everyone might sleep a little better that night! Home Improvement Store Workshops: Yep, offered in the air condition, these classes can get you out of the house and possibly inspire projects that will keep you and your family physically active over the summer. Supermarket Scavenger Hunt: Set your slow cooker for dinner (to help keep your kitchen cool!), and head out to the grocery store for a scavenger hunt. Kids can look for items that fit the MyPlate model while getting their exercise – and you stay in the A/C! Candlelight Yoga: To help keep the temps lower in your house, close the curtains and use battery-powered candles to set the mood for some afternoon yoga. Not sure how to lead your kiddos through yoga? There are many YouTube videos to help lead even the most novice yogi through some sun-salutations.


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Squirt ya later! 17


Texas Parent Teacher Association The Voice

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