October 31, 2018 Kirkland, WA

When I joined the PTA I didn't realize the depth and historical power in the organization I was stepping into. 
The PTA is a nation-wide organization of advocates for children and families.   This is a professional organization reaching toward equity for all children in education.  We aren't just helping our children, we are helping ALL children, knowing that when we help others', we help ours.

At the National level there are lobbyists and parents spending time on legislative action and in Court cases across the country, there are funds and grants set up for students and schools devastated by disasters, they support a national agenda of improving education and the lives of the children and families in our nation's schools.

The McCleary Decision is an example of the type of advocacy in which the Washington State PTA (WSPTA) participates. The Washington Supreme Court (SC) found the State was not providing adequate education for all students as called for in our State Constitution.  The WSPTA has helped convince the State Supreme Court that the State was not equally funding all schools, thereby allowing for some schools to have a substandard education, and required the State Legislature to provide more funding.  Where standard increases for education previously have come from levies, some districts were not passing the levies creating unequal dollars being spent on  students and schools. Our State PTA was involved in this case from the beginning in 2007 and was active in the founding of the task force helping to win more dollars for our education system and students.
For information on this transformative decision, please see http://www.seattleschild.com/A-primer-on-Washingtons-school-funding/.  
Our Statewide PTA advocates for a number of platforms which affect Washington State students and families.  WSPTA currently has one lobbyist on staff and many parents meeting Legislators to voice concerns and opinions.

Over the weekend of October 20th, the annual Legislative Assembly determined the WSPTA Top Five 2-year Legislative Priorities.  It was done with caucusing and discussion; democratically.  There were students, from Northshore and Bellevue, who both voiced their opinions and touching testimony regarding student fears and successes.  Of the 240 attendees, there were 69 from our district.  We are well represented and they are strong voices.

Over the coming few months I will pick one of the topics, either 2-year priority or long-term resolution, and give some history, explanation, and, if anything can be found, how the WSPTA is engaging in the State-wide conversation.

These were the Top 5 Priorities as voted by the Assembly, for the next 2 years.
1. Social Emotional Learning
2. School Construction and Simple Majority for Bonds
3. Prevent Gun Violence
4. Strategies to Address the Teacher Shortage
5. Strategic Investments to Close Gaps

Finally, I will be looking at how we can engage with these in our community and maybe even in our own school.  If you have the time and inclination, February 11-15 is Advocacy Week with the Focus Day on Monday, Feb 11.  WSPTA will be descending upon Olympia to advocate for the priorities set forward at the Assembly.  It should be inspiring and powerful.

Genn Zentz 
Franklin`s Legislative Chair