Delegates from across Washington state gathered to adopt a brand-new two-year legislative platform and several new permanent advocacy positions, be inspired, receive advocacy training, and network with other passionate PTA members during the 40th annual WSPTA Legislative Assembly, October 20-21, at Green River College.
Some highlights of the Assembly included a keynote address by the Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal on his vision for K-12 education, inspiration delivered by the 2018 WSPTA Outstanding Advocate award winner Jason Rothkowitz, and advocacy trainings in which delegates could:
- understand how local PTA leaders and members can see advocacy not just from a legislative perspective, but in terms of community involvement, engagement, and action;
- learn to create and deliver clear, concise, and compelling testimony to decision makers at local and state levels;
- hear from representatives from several statewide associations and advocacy groups on their plans and priorities for the 2019 legislative session, and how they align with the WSPTA Platform, so we can be a stronger voice together;
- receive an update on next steps for our past-Top 5 priority Standards for Paraeducators from the Professional Educator Standards Board; and
- learn what the next steps are for WSPTA legislative priorities by having a behind-the-scenes look at how a bill becomes a law in Washington state.
Delegates received education on all the proposed legislative issues and resolutions, and engaged in lively, impassioned, but civil discussion and debate. Most notable was the number of student advocates who stepped up to share their stories and be a part of the process. Delegates proposed 46 amendments and moved to extend debate 13 times! After adopting 12 new legislative issues, delegates ranked them. It was an inspiring display of democracy in action!
The new 2019-21 WSPTA Legislative Platform:
Top 5 Legislative Priorities
- Social Emotional Learning
- School Construction and Simple Majority for Bonds
- Prevent Gun Violence
- Strategies to Address the Teacher Shortage
- Strategic Investments to Close Gaps
Also support issues (listed alphabetically)
- Best Practices for School Meals – Lunch
- Best Practices for School Recess
- Engaging Families in Student Success
- Fund Paraeducator Training
- Increase Access to High Quality Preschool
- Raise the Age of Tobacco and Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems to 21
- Safe School Plans and Emergency Preparedness
Delegates also adopted two new permanent legislative principles in the category of Health and Well-being of Children and Youth:
The WSPTA shall identify and initiate education and action on public policy that protects and promotes the health and welfare of children and youth. The association shall support:
- Evidence-based policies that reduce or reverse adverse health effects of indoor or outdoor environmental conditions
- Reduction or elimination of all forms of violence to ensure safety of students, staff and communities
Find out more about the complete Washington State PTA 2019 Legislative Platform here.
Several new resolutions were adopted:
- Improving Outcomes in Special Education
- Mitigating the Health Effects of Climate Change
- Equitable Access to Highly Capable Services
- Sexual Violence and Harassment Prevention and Survivor Supports
- The existing resolution on School Nutrition was also amended.
Go to the Resolutions webpage to download the complete Board Positions and Resolutions document.
On behalf of the Advocacy and Resolutions committees, I would like to thank all of the submission teams for their hours of research, writing, and educating delegates about their submissions; all of the speakers and workshop panelists; WSPTA staff for all their logistical planning and support; and the hundreds of delegates who gave up precious family time to spend two days learning how to better carry out the mission of PTA to be a powerful voice and strong advocate for the well-being and education of every child.
WSPTA Advocacy Director