Friday, January 17, 2014

Reflecting On The New Year - It's Time To STAND UP!

I would like to begin the New Year with a little reflection and much gratitude. Looking back at 2013 it was surely a year of extraordinary challenge -- my heartfelt thanks go to all PTA members, friends and partners who demonstrated extraordinary fortitude with navigating the mine field of education reform over the past year. And, within every challenge lies opportunity.

2013 was a year of soul searching and self-examination for our association and brought with it renewed purpose and drive. In 2014 we will pay this forward as we advocate for change that will prepare today’s children for the challenges of tomorrow’s highly mobile, global society -- change that is necessary; change that must be actualized with reasoned and rational approaches; change that considers all affected; and change that will assure opportunity for every child to not only succeed in college or the workplace but succeed as contributing citizens.

As we dive headfirst into 2014, we add to the turbulent waters of education reform, state and local assessments, APPR and data privacy issues, a proposed executive (state) budget that, at the time of this writing, is likely to start out with a cap on state and local spending significantly lower than 2%.

Under these imposed constraints, fiscal mandates and demands of reform implementation, our students, school staff and our communities struggle to effectively meet heightened expectations.
But this does not alter the fact that we must focus forward and, as we do so, identify obstacles along the path to reform as well as who can assist us in removing those, whether fiscal or programmatic.

To accomplish this, members, parents and families must be meaningfully engaged at all levels of advocacy with prioritizing education spending and addressing real world implications of NY’s reform efforts. We are at a critical juncture -- as we work collaboratively and deliberatively to find common ground with our state education partners, policy makers and legislators, at the same time we must adhere to our mission for children.

We must be the VOICE of common sense and a reasoned, responsible approach to reform. NYS PTA’s HEAR OUR VOICE campaign is designed to provide just that, talking points and rationale to assist our members to speak out. But this is only the beginning...

We now ask that every member not only speak out but STAND UP for education reform and investment.
  • STAND UP for what’s sound and necessary about reform
  • STAND UP for fair measures of accountability
  • STAND UP for respect for educators
  • STAND UP for every child being valued and deserving of access to opportunity to be successful in a rapidly changing, competitive world
  • STAND UP at home in your school district by attending board of education meetings - ask questions, be part of the process, choices and decisions being made locally for your community and,  most importantly, for your child
  • STAND UP with your region PTA as trainings and events are offered
  • STAND UP with your state PTA as we share information and provide opportunities to participate in calls to action and attend events that foster knowledge and provide access to decision makers
Together we must STAND UP to learn, to question, to build relationships, to influence!

March is PTA Advocacy Month. While the HEAR OUR VOICE campaign was initiated in October and the New Year launched our STAND UP campaign via statewide digital media outlets, we continue to ratchet up our advocacy momentum as we approach NYS PTA’s Annual Legislation/Education Conference at the Desmond Hotel in Albany, on March 1-2; Lobby Day (state/local representatives) at the state Legislature on March 3; and Virtual Lobby Day (grassroots) on March 4.This conference is your opportunity to explore key issues with state governance, representatives of education and child advocacy groups and decision makers. Visits to the Legislature and VLD are your opportunity to connect and communicate our message to decision makers. As we unite our voices and turn up the volume on advocacy, participation is your opportunity to STAND UP for your child, for every child! 

Lana Ajemian, President
Reflect the past, Transform today, Inspire tomorrow!