News from National Convention—Resolutions

PTA Convention 2016 LogoAt the 2016 National PTA Convention in Orlando, four resolutions were adopted by the convention delegates. PTA resolutions and position statements are official documents outlining the opinion, will, or intent of the association to address national problems, situations, or concerns that affect children and youth and that require national action to seek solutions to the issue. They serve an important purpose in formalizing and focusing the positions of the association on various important and relevant issues. The four resolutions adopted were:

Electronic Cigarettes and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and Youth

The resolution on electronic cigarettes and electronic nicotine delivery systems focused on the growing use of electronic cigarettes among children and youth as well as the increased poisoning of young children who come into contact with the concentrated nicotine liquids used in the e-cigarettes. The resolution calls for PTA to advocate for legislation restricting the advertising, marketing, and sale of e-cigarettes to youth under 18 as well as restrictions or prohibitions on using e-cigarettes in public places. The resolution also calls on PTA units at all levels to educate youth, parents, school boards, and local officials on the dangers of e-cigarettes.

The first part of the resolution, dealing with restrictions of sales and marketing, has largely been accomplished with the recent issuing of regulations by the Food & Drug Administration. In addition, Illinois PTA has been covering this topic and providing information on it for over 18 months, and we will continue to do so.

Homework: Quality Over Quantity

The resolution on homework recognizes the value of homework as an important part of a child’s education. However, there is a growing perception among parents that the homework load on children has increased in recent years, and research indicates that for the early grades that is true. The resolution notes that homework that requires parental input and supervision or additional resources such as a readily-available internet connection can further increase the achievement gap and create inequities based on family resources.

The resolution calls for PTA support teachers, schools, and districts in promoting meaningful homework and using evidence-based guidelines in assigning homework. The resolution also encourages PTAs to advocate for school districts, school boards, and administrators to review or implement homework policies that address quality, quantity, and equity concerns in their district.

Recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Individuals as a Protected Class

The resolution on recognizing LGBTQ individuals as a protected class notes that every child should feel safe at school. Thirty percent of LGBTQ students have missed a day of school because they didn’t feel safe going to school, and LGBTQ students are more likely to be bullied in school, more likely to be homeless, and more likely to become involved in the Juvenile Justice System. The resolution also notes that harassment and bullying policies that specifically mention sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are associated with students feeling safer, lover levels of bullying, decreased incidents of sexual harassment related to sexual orientation, increased teacher and staff intervention, and a greater reporting of incidents.

The resolution calls for PTA to support recognizing LGBTQ as a protected group in current civil rights legislation, Department of Education guidance, and Department of Justice guidance. The resolution also encourages PTAs to review school bullying policies and to support amendments that specifically address sexual orientation and gender identification/expression as they relate to harassment and bullying. Finally, the resolution call for PTAs to advocate for additional professional development for teachers and staff on supporting all students and incorporating age-appropriate, medically accurate, and culturally sensitive information on LGBTQ issues into health and other appropriate curricula.

As noted in a convention workshop on supporting LGBTQ students and families, addressing this issue is about changing behaviors, not beliefs. It is about ensuring that every child feels safe and supported at school and that every family feels welcomed. The revised National PTA Diversity and Inclusion Toolkit has a section specifically devoted to supporting LGBTQ children and families to help PTAs address this issue.

Water Safety and Instruction

The resolution on water safety and instruction states that drowning is the third highest cause of death of youth 19 and younger and that over half of the drowning incidents for children 9 and younger occur in residential settings.

The resolution calls for PTAs to educate families, students, school personnel, and communities on water safety and swimming instruction. PTAs are also called to advocate for consistent, quality standards for water safety and swimming instruction and for policies and legislation to make such programs accessible for all students. Illinois PTA has addressed water safety in the past and noted in a recent One Voice Illinois post that a free pool safety sheet is available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission in both English and Spanish.

Free Resources for a Safe and Healthy Summer

pexels-photo-largeSummertime bring lots of outdoor activities like cookouts and swimming. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have bundled a collection of free resources for summer that will help plan safe cookouts, prevent mosquito bites, and protect children and guests in the home and at the pool. Additional information on managing medicines and other health issues are included as well. These resources can be ordered online and mailed to you or downloaded directly. They are available both in English and in Spanish. Included in the free packet are:

  • Eating Outdoors
  • Mosquito Bite Prevention
  • Pool Safety: Simple Steps Save Lives
  • Anchor It!
  • Use Medicines Wisely
  • My Medicines
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Health Scams
  • Women in Clinical Trials
  • Tattoos and Permanent Make-Up

New Website Helps Families Turn Teens into Safe Drivers

490x150-teensMost high school students would much rather sleep late, play video games, and perhaps work at a summer job than go to summer school, but the one class that changes that decision for many teens is driver education. Handing the car keys to your child is a big turning point for both parents and teens, and a new website from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called Safe at the Wheel helps families prepare for that big moment.

The site is accessible in both English and Spanish. Among the information provided is:

While accident rates and traffic fatalities for teen drivers have decreased, they are still more likely to be involved in accidents than the average driver. These accidents are not due to teen drivers not knowing the basic rules of the road or safe driving practices but because of inexperience, risk-taking, and peer pressure. Teen drivers are 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky driving behavior with a teenage passenger with them compared to driving alone, and when more than one teenage passenger is with them, they are 3 times more likely to take risks on the road.

Driver education courses may teach your teen how to drive, but families play an important role in helping teen drivers gain experience and avoiding risky behavior. Talking to your teen about driving responsibly is important, but even more significant is setting a good example. By modeling safe driving habits, you help to teach your child how a vehicle should be operated, even long before they are big enough to see over the dashboard or have their feet reach the pedals.

New Readiness Roadmap Helps You Pave Your Child’s Path Forward

photoA new Readiness Roadmap from Be a Learning Hero in partnership with National PTA, Univision, Great Schools, Scholastic, Common Sense Media, and other organizations helps parents navigate the sometimes confusing path from childhood to adulthood. The roadmap is based on the Parents 2016 survey that identified the key things that families want and need to help raise their children. The mobile-friendly roadmap provides resources on academic expectations, having a successful parent-teacher conference, social and emotional needs, bullying, surviving middle school, paying for college, and more in English and in Spanish.

Several other tools are available, including:

The Readiness Roadmap is a great new one-stop resource for a variety of parenting needs, so be sure to check it out.