Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Summertime Reflection

Wow, July is here…and the hammock beckons! Where DID the year go? For someone loathe to ride the Cyclone, this year has surely been a heart-stopping roller coaster ride with plans made, plans thwarted; challenges met with success, those met with defeat; knowing where we stand, wondering where we stand – surely a year of unprecedented highs and lows. But I look back at what we have learned and what we have accomplished and feel reassured, proud. We held to our mission and influenced change, we reached new heights of visibility, and we lifted more NYS PTA voices in advocacy.  And so, it’s been a good year.

We cannot deny that differing views, competing ideas and flawed education reform remain hurdles to clear. Yet, they also stimulate creativity and innovation to find solutions. Throughout the summer, NYS PTA will continue to press forward for seeking both an independent review of assessment and accountability policies, and the suspension of the link between standardized assessment outcomes and high stakes decisions for students, teachers or principals. 

However, in the shadow of education reform, APPR, and high stakes testing is a membership challenge that threatens. As we combine reform controversies with targeted efforts of certain groups to undermine PTA’s mission for children, I cannot overemphasize the pride I feel in our local PTA leaders -- you have held steady and strong in your efforts to build membership throughout a year that has challenged your resolve.  For this I am deeply grateful to each and every one of you – extraordinary effort in an extraordinary time!  

But membership decline is not just a state or local issue, it is a national issue. We know there are ever-growing demands on the time of parents and families; we know so many are full-time in the workplace yet need to be that helping hand at home; and we know that you are being pulled in different directions by competing interests, always with our children’s future at the center of each effort.

But we also know we are the only parent group consistently at the table with decision makers representing the needs of New York’s children. PTA’s VOICE matters. PTA’s advocacy voice, your voice, has value. It is what has brought us to the table to influence change – whether the issue is one of education reform, or access to healthy foods and safe environments, or to assure a child’s mistake is not punished in the same manner as an adult’s. We do not put membership dollars ahead of mission. However, no matter what or how many positions we take to safeguard children and youth, they are meaningless without members to take them to action.

With the talent and commitment inherent in our NYS PTA membership, I know we can and will build our chorus. Your hard work throughout this year has surely earned you time to kick back and relax; take a swing in that hammock. But, as you do, please consider this request: reflect upon what has been accomplished through 118 years of advocacy for children by this remarkable association. Then ask how your voice, your influence CAN make a child’s dream become reality. Wishing you warm, reflective, transformative and inspirational summer days!

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