National PTA LegCon Summary and School Advocacy Priorities for 2021
This year’s PTA Leg Con was a huge success! For those of you not familiar with LegCon, it is an annual conference where PTA leaders join forces and head to DC to influence the legislature. The first day is all about introducing the priorities for the year and giving background information. The second day is reserved for meetings with members, staffers, etc. This year, the event was virtual for the first time and, as a result, had over 800 people in attendance. If you did not get a chance to attend, or just are curious about the five legislative priorities for 2021 and how you can help advocate for our students, check out this blog as well as our summary on the Multipurpose Room podcast.
This year’s advocacy priorities for the National PTA are listed below. Each has a policy brief available on the PTA’s website if you want more information.
Ask 1: Make meaningful, robust investments in education in the next COVID relief package. The PTA has appreciated the prior relief in the education space, however, schools are facing unprecedented budget deficits and more investment is needed.
Ask 2: Increase funding for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) to $20 million in FY 2022. The PTA wants to make sure these programs receive additional funding to ensuring families are meaningfully engaged.
Ask 3: Include schools in any comprehensive infrastructure package. The PTA is asking the legislature to pass the Reopen and Rebuild America's Schools Act of 2021.
Ask 4: Improve the federal school meal program through Child Nutrition Reauthorization and extending the current child nutrition waivers beyond 2021.
Ask 5: Support policies which protect all students, including students from historically marginalized populations and communities. Specifically, the PTA is asking for support on the Keeping All Students Safe the The Protecting our Students in Schools Act.
Aside from providing additional detail about each of these asks, LegCon shared tips for advocacy as well as feedback from the meetings with legislators. Here are the takeaways from those discussions.
Advocacy is about giving a voice to those who don’t have it. In the PTA world, it is about being a voice for EVERY child. In that end, taking action to speak up is advocacy. It doesn’t have to be a big lobbying push. If you are looking to start, here are some tips to be really successful.
As a PTA, pick one issue to focus on.
Put a personal face on that issue. This is what resonates with people. It makes the issue real.
Research the issue and leverage any prior work. The National PTA the state PTA, and similarly minded organizations have likely already written policy statements on the subject that you can leverage.
Decide what you are going to do on this issue. This may be asking for a change in policy, it may be supporting an existing bill.
Find the people responsible for making a change. This could be school level, district level, state level, national level or a combination thereof. Once you have identified them, follow them on social media, attending any relevant meetings (such a board meetings and town halls), attend town halls, set up direct meeting with state or federal legislators.
Prepare for any meetings. Be ready to give an overview of the issue and your ask. Share a personal story and follow up after the meeting. You should also ask whether you can check in with them about the issue in the future.
Finally, get other on board! This shouldn’t come at the end but I am listing it here because it is an important step to do throughout. It is always more powerful if you can have the support of the community behind you also making asks of the right people. Getting others on board requires educating others, providing them with tools, and asking them to take action. To do this, share out information about the issue, share template letters they can send (or ask them to sign petitions), and encourage them to do so.
Hearing the feedback from the hill meetings was inspiring and encouraging. There was a lot of great information sharing and so many PTA leaders were able to advocate for the five issues. You can get additional detail about the issues in the daily #PTALegCon recordings attached to recap blog 1 and recap blog 2 as well as more explanation on the above at the Multipurpose Room podcast episode about LegCon. Thank you to all those involved in putting together LegCon. If you have any questions about our LegCon attendance, don’t hesitate to reach out.