Those who know me personally, know that I am passionate about my own kids' education. I believe that, without a doubt, no one will advocate on their behalf more than I will. That passion rolls over to their elementary, middle, and high schools, to our school district, and to students everywhere who deserve to have someone looking out for them, making certain they have healthy and safe options and opportunities in education and their community.
So what happens when 200 of the most die-hard and like-minded advocates for students from across the state of New York State get together for the weekend in one location?
Leaders are born and inspired, and change begins to happen.
As the current Vice-President of my son's elementary school PTSA, and having also been recently appointed to serve my Regional PTA Board as the Education Chair (Because apparently I actually enjoy reading and keeping tabs on what's happening in education!), it just made sense to accept the invitation to attend this summer's state PTA leadership conference. I thought about it for all of about two minutes, before I excitedly said "yes!" and agreed to attend.
I've been an officer in my local PTSA unit for the past seven years and I felt pretty confident that I had a decent understanding of policy, procedure, and the in's and out's of PTA. I already knew that this was a powerful group of passionate individuals that do so much more than just local fundraising and the annual family fun night at school. I understood that PTA is also a state and national association that collectively keeps their finger on the pulse of what is happening in the lives of our children.
Over the course of this weekend I sat in on workshops concerning:
- the current hot topics in education
- the differences between a PTA and a "PTOther"
- improving the PTA-Principal partnership in our school (which, for the record, is already pretty fantastic!)
- key issues with the current testing trend in our schools
- taking action through advocacy and lobbying for change.
- how to involve youth members in our unit (because, after all, we're fighting FOR these students, who better to stand alongside with us?), and
- education updates for students with disabilities.
By the end of my weekend, I had come to a very vivid conclusion - I was in the midst of fellow advocates who understood my passion and were just as committed as I am.
I "get" that there are personal opinions that I hold onto that don't always completely line-up with the position that the PTA has chosen to take. What I've come to realize is that it's okay. PTA advocates for every child. Some of the opinions I hold on to are just that. Mine. Not those of every child or family. But those differing opinions are still being brought to the table by other advocacy groups. Awareness IS being raised, people ARE listening, and change CAN happen.
This past year in the state of New York, and across the country, education has been and continues to top the news media sites. Politics are being played with our children's public education, parents either love or hate the Common Core, mandates and reforms keep us guessing. More than ever, we need passionate people who will step forward, and be a part of the change the will allow opportunities for our students to continue to thrive.
We are raising our own next generation of advocates!