This year’s PTA Leg Con was a huge success! For those unfamiliar with LegCon, it is an annual conference where PTA leaders join forces and head to DC to influence the legislature. The first day is about introducing the year's priorities 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 are just curious about the five legislative priorities for 2021 and how you can help advocate for our students, check out this blog and our summary on the Multipurpose Room podcast.
This year’s advocacy priorities for the National PTA are listed below. Each policy brief is available on the PTA’s website for 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 face unprecedented budget deficits, and more investment is needed.
Ask 2: Increase the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFECs) funding to $20 million in FY 2022. The PTA wants to ensure these programs receive additional funding to ensure families are meaningfully engaged.
Ask 3: Include schools in any comprehensive infrastructure package. The PTA asks 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 extend child nutrition waivers beyond 2021.
Ask 5: Support policies that protect all students, including students from historically marginalized populations and communities. Specifically, the PTA requests support for the Keeping All Students Safe Protecting Our Students in Schools Act.
Aside from providing additional detail about these asks, LegCon shared tips for advocacy and feedback from the meeting 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. To that end, taking action to speak up is advocacy. It doesn’t have to be a big lobbying push. If you want to start, here are some tips to succeed.
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 you can leverage.
Decide what you are going to do on this issue. This may be asking for a policy change or 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, attend any relevant meetings (such as board meetings and town halls), attend town halls, and set up direct meetings 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 others on board! This shouldn’t come at the end, but I am listing it here because it is a crucial step to do throughout. It is always more powerful if you can have the support of the community behind you and also make 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 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 blog 2, as well as more explanation at the Multipurpose Room podcast episode about LegCon. Thank you to all those involved in putting together LegCon. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about our LegCon attendance.