For over one hundred years, Washington State PTA has been advocating for fair and equitable education opportunities for all children. Our passionate members effectively participated in the 2009 passage of ESHB 2261, a massive education reform bill that redefines the state’s “Program of Basic Education” and the funding amounts and methods needed to fully support it.
Members also participated in the 2007 passage of Simple Majority for Levies which allowed school district levies to pass with over 50 percent of the vote rather than 60 percent. Our legislative platform consistently covers basic education, opportunity gap, social emotional learning, and more. In addition, WSPTA is recognized as the respected parent voice by many state agencies such as the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and participates in working groups and coalitions that align with our mission.
K–12 Internet Access Program – The OSPI K–12 Internet Access Program connects students in need to internet access at home with no cost to the student or their family. Through the program, students whose families are low-income and are not currently connected to the internet can get connected through the end of the 2020–21 school year for free. This spring, through the federal CARES Act, Congress provided funds to local school districts and state education agencies to provide support in covering emergency COVID-19 costs. As additional families face economic challenges and some experience homelessness in the coming months, families of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals that do not have internet access can continue to sign up for this assistance. Along with a time extension, OSPI has removed the initial requirement that families did not have internet access prior to August 2020.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today [sic April 20, 2021] issued a broad range of flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare institutions across the country to return to serving healthy meals in fall 2021 as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to reopen schools safely. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022. The waivers continue the Administration’s commitment to provide safe, healthy meals free of charge to children as the pandemic continues to threaten the food and nutrition security of our most vulnerable. Read full press release.
National PTA also released a blog post written by the CDC dated July 16, 2021, Getting the Most from School Meals – How Parents Can Help
Families should contact their local school district for details.
National PTA Statements:
The following resources are available in 11 different languages in the “For Students & Families” section of the OSPI Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources page:
- The Multilingual Families Resources Overview dropdown outlines parents’ rights to translation and interpretation services, and family access to remote or distance learning activities. In addition to technology access, multilingual families may also need navigation support with accessing child care, early learning programs, nutrition, and financial assistance, and mental health and other health services.
- Step-by-step instructions on how to use five different teaching platforms:
- Class Dojo
- Google Classroom
The conversation on reopening schools and the start of the 2020-2021 school year has left parents and families with many questions about what school will look like and what’s next for their child’s learning.
As part of National PTA’s initiative, From Report to Results – which seeks to ensure parents have access to meaningful educational data and the tools to interpret and use data to celebrate achievements and advocate for improvements so that all students have the best and most supportive learning environment possible – National PTA is excited to share the release of the Community Conversation resources for parents. The goal of the Community Conversations is to bring parents together with school and district leaders to discuss the impact of closures from COVID-19 on student and school performance, and understand how schools plan to move forward.
Despite some incomplete data from schools closing, states are still obligated to report data. Moreover, schools and districts are still responsible for serving all students well and ensuring the school is making progress in the areas needed. Student and school-level data will inform state decisions about how they will measure performance, and how they will assess the impact of school closures.
Parents are critical stakeholders in how schools gather, share and use school-performance data to make decisions.
National PTA identified the critical questions parents should ask school leaders to ensure that schools continue to share transparent school-performance data. PTA’s questions also address how schools are continuing to measure student learning and progress to ensure all students are being served well.
National PTA encourages PTAs to share these resources widely and hopes local PTAs will lead these conversations in their communities. The Community Conversation resources include tools to plan for and set up the conversation, like sample email language and one-pagers, as well as follow-up support like post-conversation surveys. These tools can be used for a variety of situations: to support larger conversations like a virtual town hall, or a smaller conversation between parents and a principal.
McCleary v. State of Washington
WSPTA participated in the McCleary lawsuit through our membership in the Network for Excellence in Washington Schools (NEWS). NEWS is one of the original plaintiffs in the McCleary lawsuit, and a plaintiff/respondent in the Supreme Court proceedings.