Host a Summer Learning Listening Session

Summertime, and school’s out, so you may not be thinking about having your PTA host an event. And while school may be out, the summer also provides a unique opportunity to reach out to families that haven’t been involved with PTA or new families coming to your school and show them what PTA is all about. It’s also an opportunity to fight the “summer slide.”

National PTA has partnered with Access from AT&Tand EveryoneOn to help ensure that families have the resources their kids need for success in the classroom and beyond. The Summer Learning Toolkit has everything your PTA needs to host a Summer Learning Listening Session. Each listening session is designed to be a quick event to add to a PTA meeting, but could also be coupled with a fun summer activity like an ice cream social.

The toolkit gives you everything you need, including:

  • Resources to plan your event around
  • A list of the key volunteers you’ll need
  • Templates to promote your event
  • An agenda to follow at your event
  • Things to do to wrap up after your event

Check out the entire toolkit and start planning your Summer Learning Listening Event now.

News from National Convention—Proposed Dues Increase

Early this year, National PTA proposed an increase in national membership dues of $1.50/member, raising the total National PTA portion of dues from $2.25/member to $3.75/member. The original proposal was to make the dues increase effective July 1, 2019, but National PTA moved the proposed start date to September 1, 2019 based on feedback. The increase and effective date were considered at the National PTA Convention last week in Columbus, OH, and delegates voted to reject any dues increase.

Based on feedback from our local units, the Illinois PTA State Board of Directors adopted a position to oppose any increase in national dues and to have the effective date for any increase approved by delegates to be as late in the 2019-2020 school year as possible. National PTA had stated that any effective date after the dates of the 2020 National PTA Convention could result in that convention’s delegate body overturning any decision made on dues at the 2019 Convention.

The debate over the dues increase was lengthy. Motions were made to reduce the dues increase to $0.75/member, $0.50/member, $0.25/member, and $1.50/member implemented in three $0.50/member steps over three years. In addition to Illinois, several other large state PTAs were directed by their membership or state boards to oppose any dues increase, including California, New York, and Texas. As a result, all amendments to modify the dues amount were rejected by 60% or more of the delegates, and the final vote on the $1.50/member increase was rejected by 69% of the delegates.

Moving Forward

The National PTA Board of Directors had already adopted a budget assuming no dues increase, so while the coming year will be tight financially, there is already a plan in place for the current situation. It is likely that National PTA will have a new dues proposal to be considered at next year’s convention in Louisville. Illinois PTA urges National PTA to provide more transparent information to the state associations regarding finances at the national level and to make the case for the dues increase based on what it will mean for our local units—the people who will have to ask their members for those additional dues.

12 Bullying Myths

Bullying at school is nothing new, but a lot of what we think we know about isn’t necessarily true. Great Schools has put together a list of 12 myths about bullying along with the facts that bust those myths. Those myths are:

  1. You’ll know when your child is being bullied.
  2. Bullying is always physical.
  3. The bully is always bigger.
  4. Fighting back works./Fighting back doesn’t work.
  5. Bullies are the most popular kids.
  6. Parents have nothing to do with their kids bullying.
  7. If your child is a victim, call the bully’s parents.
  8. Boys are more likely to be bullied.
  9. Cyberbullying is the gateway to other bullying.
  10. Parents are always their kids’ best defender.
  11. Homophobic taunts refer to the victim’s sexual orientation.
  12. Schools aren’t responsible for bullying.

Children need safe and supportive schools to be successful, and stopping bullying is part of providing that for them. Read the full article to learn why each of these 12 myths are not true, then check out StopBullying.gov for more information and consider having your PTA implement the National PTA Connect for Respect program.

Graphic courtesy of US Air Force/Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter.

Solving Your Lack of Volunteers Problem

Getting people to volunteer at your events is a continual struggle for many PTAs. In fact, fear of being asked to volunteer is one of the reasons people don’t join the PTA. While PTA membership doesn’t require someone to volunteer, we still do need some folks to step up to run things. So how do you get people to volunteer?

Why Aren’t They Volunteering?

If you want to solve a problem, it is important to know why it is happening. So if you don’t know why people are not volunteering with your PTA, you can’t address their concerns and overcome them. There are many reasons why someone may not volunteer.

  • They don’t get why they should volunteer.If you’re a PTA leader, chances are you had a parent who volunteered when you were a child, whether it was in the PTA, at church, or with some other organization. That example of service to others can be very powerful when we become adults, and not everyone experienced it as a child. Additionally, some people might view the PTA as something for the parents who don’t have anything better to do with their time. They aren’t aware that running a PTA is actually running a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and that PTA leaders are in reality small business leaders.
  • Volunteering is out of their comfort zone.In elementary school, kids are often happy to see their parent at school helping out. By the time they hit middle or high school, many kids are embarrassed or horrified to see a parent at school. That pushback from their kids can be a real inhibitor for parents volunteering in those later years. In addition, a lot of the volunteer opportunities at an elementary school, whether helping with a class party or a school carnival, feel somewhat familiar and safe. When it comes to PTA events and activities at the older grades, the role of the PTA has shifted and the opportunities may feel less familiar, especially if their teen is pushing back on their parent being seen by their friends.
  • Your PTA is seen as a clique.If your PTA has a bunch of leaders who’ve known each other for years, it can be intimidating for a new parent to step into a volunteer role as an outsider. Remember that it is the outsiders who determine if your PTA is a clique, so consider how approachable you and your fellow PTA leaders really are.

Solving Your Volunteer Problem

Successfully recruiting volunteers requires identifying potential candidates for the job and overcoming objections.

  • Find hidden talents.The families at your school have a wealth of backgrounds, skills, and talents, so make sure you reach out to discover what they are—most people aren’t going to share them in public. The Cub Scout program has long relied on a Family Talent Survey to discover those hidden skills of their families. Consider developing a similar form for your PTA and sharing it at registration, Open House night, your PTA meetings, and other opportunities, especially at the start of the year.
  • Recruit one-on-one.Some parents may step up with a sign up form through MemberHub or a sheet passed around at a PTA meeting, but most won’t, especially for bigger jobs. Target your recruitment efforts and find the opportunity to sit down in a relaxed atmosphere to discuss the job and why you think they would be great at it.
  • Have a procedure book.A procedure book is one of your best volunteer recruiting tools. When you’re trying to fill a position that someone has had for several years, a procedure book that spells out everything they’ve done, who their contacts were, and what they spent their budget on is priceless. Be sure to let your potential volunteer know they are not starting from scratch.
  • Find micro-volunteering opportunities.Not everyone has a schedule that lets them help out at the PTA event or in the classroom, but there may be possibilities that they can do on their own time as it fits in their schedule. These micro-volunteering opportunities can be an easy first step for someone to become a long-time PTA volunteer.
  • Share the ball.If you’ve ever watched a soccer game with very young players, you’ve probably seen how the game ends up—a few talented kids run around kicking the ball and scoring goals while the rest chase the ball in a big clump and the coach yells for everyone to spread out and pass the ball. While the coach might be able to win the game with their few talented players, they also know that success in the future requires the kids in the clump to know how to handle the ball and that their current “stars” won’t be able to be successful in the future if they’re still trying to take on the opposing team on their own. While every PTA has their superstar volunteers, it is important that you don’t rely on them too much. Make sure that all your volunteers get a chance to handle the ball and remember that your role as a PTA leader is like that of the coach—supporting your players but not kicking the ball yourself.

Photo © 2011 by USAG-Humphreys under Creative Commons license.