Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Communicate to Advocate!

First, I would like to share how excited and honored I am to be the new President of this great association. I look forward to working with our members throughout the state as we Communicate to Advocate! 

Communication is an important part of my life. From my professional position as a School Information Officer in an upstate school district in the Central Region, to promoting Communications within PTAs at a unit level, council, region and the state level.

On a daily basis my job as a communications officer exposes me to administrators, teachers, students and parents. It places me in classrooms at elementary and secondary levels where it is a joy to see our public education system in action. In that capacity, I am a witness to the great progress being made as a result of the many changes occurring in education.

Communication can be defined as, "the two-way process of reaching mutual understanding, in which participants not only exchange information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning". In general, communication is a means of connecting people or places.

As we were creating the logo and pin for this theme, it was decided to use a megaphone as a base as it is used to amplify a voice and direct it in a given direction. We use our VOICE to ADVOCATE for all children.

From a low tech perspective, when you place a megaphone at your ear it symbolizes how it can also amplify and direct what others are saying to us. This two-way communication will allow us to actively interact at the region, unit and grassroots level.

As public education continues to come under fire and we anticipate more battles ahead, it is more important than ever that we:
  • continue to represent the interests of children and youth to the educational and legislative communities; and
  • continue to address such hot topics as: equitable school aid; charter school funding – not at the expense of public school funding, multiple pathways to graduation, standards, high-stakes testing, teacher tenure, unaccompanied minors, and many other important and relevant topics.
Moving Forward: 
  • We will address the challenge to ensure that PTA is relevant to our current and future parents. To accomplish this, we need to continue to strengthen and expand our communication between the state, the regions/units and grassroots member--continue to listen and collaborate together
  • We will recognize that we cannot do many things the way they were always done if we want to meet the needs of today’s volunteer. We have been working hard to utilize today’s technology and anticipate the technology of tomorrow to address these changes. The introduction of our new Mobile Phone app is just the beginning of that effort. (Please go to your app store and search on NYS PTA to download the free app to your phone and/or tablet!)
  • We will identify the needs of our grassroots to deliver what is needed for and to members at all levels to advocate for children is crucial to our meeting our mission.
  • We will continue to look at how we deliver services to our members as the majority of our technology moves to our hands (smart phones and tablets).  
Participating in conversations about these issues is the best avenue to ensure equitable educational opportunities for ALL children. Therefore, our energy and efforts needs to be focused on the fight for what we know to be in the best interests of all children. Our visibility in Albany has grown and our opinions sought on many important issues…this will continue.

As we build on our VOICE and STAND UP campaigns from last year, we will keep that voice heard in Albany and throughout the state. At the same time, we will expand our communication to identify and clarify what our members concerns are in order to address them through collaboration at all levels to ensure that ALL children receive the best education available to them.

Going forward, my intent is to post shorter updates to The Voice of NYS PTA, more often. We have been very busy with advocacy the past few weeks, so I look forward to posting about those experiences in the coming weeks.

Bonnie M. Russell
NYS PTA ® President 
Communicate to Advocate