At the 2018 National PTA Convention in New Orleans, delegates adopted one new resolution and amended another existing resolution. The first resolution addresses students with disabilities, while the second focuses on mental health programs and services. The links to the resolutions here are to the proposed text and amendments, which were only slightly modified by the convention delegates. The final text of the resolutions will be posted on the National PTA Resolutions pagein the near future.
Resolution on High Expectations for Students with Disabilities
As the new resolution on high expectations for students with disabilitiesnotes, more than half of all students with disabilities spend at least 80% of their school day in general education classes. These students need both quality general education instruction and targeted interventions and accommodations. For students with disabilities, time in general education classes lead to fewer absences, less disruptive behavior, and better outcomes after high school, as well as new learning opportunities for students without disabilities.
Yet for students with disabilities, there continues to be a gap between the achievement of these students and those without disabilities. Research has shown that teacher expectations for students with disabilities, parental expectations for their children’s academic achievement, and students’ own mindsets all play key roles in their success.
The resolution directs National PTA and all PTAs under it (including local PTAs) to:
- Collaborate with school communities to include students with disabilities and their families in all school activities.
- Support peer mentoring, collaborative problem solving, cooperative working groups, and more casual or unstructured interactions between student with disabilities and those without disabilities.
- Include a relevant general educator present at Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings.
- Support funding for teacher professional development regarding adapting instruction to meet the needs of students with disabilities, accommodations that improve access to the general curriculum, and high expectations for all students regarding both academics and behavior.
- Support implementation of best practices to meet the needs of diverse students, including Universal Design for Learning (UDL), inclusion, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS), and Response to Intervention (RTI).
- Support students with disabilities access to accommodations, including assistive technology.
Amended Resolution on Children’s Emotional Health and Mental Health Awareness
The convention delegates amended the 1969 resolution on Children’s Emotional Health to address mental health issues as well. The amended resolution notes that mental health issues in children have increased in recent years, with 20% of youth ages 13 to 18 living with a mental health condition. Furthermore, 79% of students ages 6 to 17 with mental health disorders do not receive mental health care. The average delay between the onset of symptoms and the beginning of treatment for these children is 8 to 10 years.
The amended resolution calls on National PTA and its constituent associations to:
- Support efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health providers that offer preventative and treatment services to children and adults, as well as comprehensive school mental health programs that include adequate access to school psychologies, school counselors, and school social workers.
- Advocate for teacher and administrator training to improve the understanding of child emotional and mental health needs, with an emphasis on the importance of establishing a school climate conducive to good mental health.
- Promote education programs for parents and families to strengthen understanding and supportive home environments.
- Support efforts to provide education and other supports for school staff and professional development to assist with addressing and early detection of mental health issues.