Op-Ed: Participate In Local PA And PTA Elections (Update)

May 23, 2016

Schools Chancellor Carmen FariñaBy NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña

Parents are our partners in lifting up each school community and ensuring students receive a high quality education. A parent’s involvement can come in many different ways – through participation on a committee, leading school tours, volunteering to support an after school program or helping to recruit fellow parents to best support their students. This spring, schools across the City are preparing for Parent Association (PA) or Parent Teacher Association (PTA) elections and I urge families to consider running for a seat for the PA or PTA elections.

 At weekly CEC meetings, town halls, school visits or even the grocery store, I talk to parents and grandparents and we always agree: we want the best education for each child and all children in the community. While we’ve seen a tremendous spike in parent involvement—in the first four months this year, 38% more families attended parent-teacher conferences than in the year prior, school based workshops increased by 60% and parent attendance at workshops went up 59% compared to last year—we want even more families involved. Public school parents are an integral piece of the puzzle and family input, advocacy and support will help students succeed.

 Here are the facts: every parent or guardian of a student is automatically a member of their school’s PA or PTA. Each year, parents vote to select their Executive Board: President, Recording Secretary and Treasurer. Schools have until the last day of classes to hold elections but are strongly encouraged to do so before June 15. Election results are announced immediately after and members take office on July 1st.

When I was in school, my mother who knew very little English, was reticent to come to school and seek guidance from teachers. Parents: regardless of the language you speak at home, you play a central role in your child’s education. Every parent has something to contribute to their school community. As a principal I depended on my PTA for multiple things. We met monthly to develop school initiatives, create partnerships with community organizations, receive input on how to strengthen teacher and parent relationships, and organize activities.

 Under the leadership of Yolanda Torres, the Division of Family and Community Engagement offers a series of leadership trainings for parents to become leaders in their communities. Since Yolanda has been leading this critical work, we’ve seen expansions in ESL workshops for families and parent leadership seminars and launched our first Grandparents advisory group. We’ve even expanded cooking classes and Zumba classes, since we heard from families that this is what you wanted. Yolanda shares my vision and is determined to reach every parent in every neighborhood of our great city.

 Having a strong parental presence in schools helps to create welcoming school environments and is an integral part of supporting students on their academic journey. This support and partnership between families and school staff will lead to improved student outcomes. Every school community deserves dedicated parents like you to advocate for the needs of students – this is your chance to make a difference and impact your child’s education and hundreds more.

Ask your parent coordinator, or member of your Association’s current Executive Board or nominating committee today for information on how to get involved and visit http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/FACE/ParentLeader/SchoolLeadership.htm

Photo to: Courtesy of NYC Department of Education.

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