Does Advocacy Matter?

PTA was founded 120 years ago to focus on advocacy on behalf of children, and many things we take for granted today—child labor laws, the juvenile justice system, childhood immunizations, the school lunch program—happened because of PTA advocacy. But when we look back at those examples today, our thoughts may lean towards those being obvious choices—of course children shouldn’t work in dangerous factories and mines, be locked up with adult prisoners, die from preventable diseases, or go hungry at school. As individuals, we may feel that our voice is too small, that there are too many lobbyists with too much money drowning out what we’re saying. So, does advocacy matter?

At Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield in 2016, a dozen PTA advocates visited legislators and their staff to push for passage of SB550, a school drinking water lead testing bill that was stuck in committee and going nowhere. Hundreds of other PTA advocates participated in our online Call to Action to contact their legislators as well. The result was a “dead” bill suddenly moving to passage and signed into law.

The law is a great success for PTA advocacy, and we should all be proud of our efforts, but passing a law often seems abstract when trying to get others to join us in advocacy. That is why it is important to remember that passing laws or developing regulations are like only the building of a rocket. It is the implementation that is what launches that rocket.

So what has been the real effect of passing SB550? Schools have been testing their drinking water, and how that testing will benefit young children in Illinois is becoming increasingly clear. School districts across the state are having to deal with unsafe drinking water that has been harming children for decades. Note this small sample of news articles, citing schools with high lead levels:

And there are many more school districts like those listed. It should also be noted that Chicago Public Schools began testing for lead before the law was passed.

So the efforts of about 1% of Illinois PTA members advocating for children means that high lead contamination of drinking water in day cares and elementary schools will soon be a thing of the past. That will make a significant difference in the lives of each of those children, and that is why advocacy matters. Imagine what we could accomplish if every PTA member was actively advocating for children.

Get Involved Now!

Illinois PTA Advocacy Day in Springfield 2017 was last week. If you weren’t able to join us, contact your legislators now (it literally takes two minutes), and don’t forget to sign up for the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network to ensure you don’t miss additional opportunities to speak up for Illinois children.

 

 

20 John Wooden Quotes to Share with Your Child

Legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden accomplished a lot on the court—10 NCAA championships in 12 years, including an unprecedented seven in a row, and being named national coach of the year six times. For his players, though, it was what he taught them off the court that had a greater effect on their lives than what he taught them on the court. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, among others, still speak of Coach Wooden in reverent terms. Here are 20 quotes from Coach Wooden to share with your child to help inspire them to do and be their best.

  1. “It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
  2. “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”
  3. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”
  4. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  5. “Young people need models, not critics.”
  6. “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
  7. “Happiness begins where selfishness ends.”
  8. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
  9. “The best competition I have is against myself to become better.”
  10. “Success is never final, failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  11. “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”
  12. “Whatever you do, surround yourself with smart people who’ll argue with you.”
  13. “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”
  14. “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
  15. “Today is the only day. Yesterday is gone.”
  16. “If you’re true to yourself, you’re going to be true to everyone else.”
  17. “You can’t let praise or criticism get to you. It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.”
  18. “Make each day your masterpiece.”
  19. “Never make excuses. Your friends don’t need them, and your foes won’t believe them.”
  20. “The most important thing in the world is family and love.”

Consider picking a quote or two to discuss with your family this week, and really dig into what Coach Wooden is saying about character, success, and life.

 

What is Illinois PTA University?

The Illinois PTA University is an incentive program to encourage leadership development. The program is divided into three levels—Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, and Doctorate Degree. Each level recognizes the accomplishment of PTA members who have completed its requirements. Those requirements include attendance at a variety of workshops, training courses, and PTA events.  Any PTA member may participate in the program, and there is no time limit for completing the requirements to earn a degree.

Transcripts (applications) are available at all courses and events, and any state board member, district director, or course trainer may sign. Completed transcripts should be sent to your District or Region Director or to the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director. Doctoral recipients are recognized at the Illinois PTA Convention.

To earn the Bachelor’s Degree, participants must complete five requirements:

  • Take PTA 101: Your Road to Success (required for all officers)
  • Take Money Matters 101 (required for all treasurers)
  • Attend a Council, District, or Region meeting or workshop (this can be a training event where you take the above courses)
  • Attend an Illinois PTA state conference or workshop (not at the Illinois PTA Convention), such as an Illinois PTA Value of PTA event.
  • Attend the Illinois PTA Convention

To earn the Master’s Degree, participants must earn their Bachelor’s Degree and complete four out of five electives:

To earn the Doctorate Degree, participants must earn their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, complete the Illinois PTA Train the Trainers course, and complete a thesis project. The Train the Trainers course requires the recommendation of your District or Region Director or other Illinois PTA state board member to attend. The thesis project requires prior approval of the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director, and is an opportunity for the candidate to apply what they have learned from the rest of their Illinois PTA University work. Examples of thesis projects include, but are not limited to:

  • Creating an approved PTA training course
  • Creating an approved PTA program
  • Hosting a candidate’s forum
  • Organizing a Value of PTA event

Contact your Region Director, District Director, or the Illinois PTA Leadership Development Director to schedule a course or visit the Illinois PTA website events page to see what courses are coming up.

Illinois PTA Advocacy Day 2017

Today is Illinois PTA Advocacy Day. Even if you can’t join us in Springfield, you can still participate. If you have a few minutes sometime in the next few days, send an e-mail to your legislators. The text is prewritten for you, though you can edit it or add more if you would like to. Then, add your contact information and hit send.

If you have a bit more time, schedule a meeting with your legislators at their district offices. They will be in Springfield this week for the veto session, but will be back in their districts next week. If you’re not sure how to set up a meeting or how to talk to a legislator, be sure to check out our webinar from last year on How to Meet with Legislators.

Illinois PTA is advocating on three key issues this year for Advocacy Day:

  • Education Funding: The new funding formula starts Illinois on a path towards adequate and equitable funding, but without additional funding added to the formula in future years, we will continue to have the most inequitable school funding in the country.
  • Environmental Concerns: Based on our 2017 resolutions on climate change and hydraulic fracturing (fracking), we are asking legislators to support science-based regulations on carbon emissions and fracking operations to protect children’s health and the environment.
  • Justice-Involved Young Adults: Based on our report to the 2017 Illinois PTA Convention, we are asking lawmakers to consider legislation treating those ages 18 to 24 involved in the justice system differently from those 25 and older, as scientific research indicates that young adults in that age range behave much more like teenagers than adults due to brain development.

If you are unsure what to say about these topics to your legislator, check out our 2017 Hot Topics webinar or contact Illinois PTA Legislative Advocacy Director Lisa Garbaty, who can provide you with talking points and handouts to share.

Finally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to make your voice heard on important advocacy issues in the future. Find out about Illinois PTA Calls to Action by signing up for the Illinois PTA Takes Action Network.