Looking Forward

What an incredible year! We have been busy and very successful. I am excited and proud to share just a little bit of our success.

Early on, our PTAs took on the challenge to help our association reach 500,000 members by Rally Day. Through hard work and perseverance, Texas PTA reached this membership milestone in February. There’s nothing PTA can’t do when we are determined to use our powers to ensure the well-being of Texas children. Thanks to your continued efforts, we went on to exceed the half-million mark (514,072 members as of this writing!) to earn the greatest membership increase of all state PTAs across the country. Because of this accomplishment, Texas PTA will be awarded at the National PTA Convention in June. A big shout out to Vice President of Membership Marni Kaner for leading the way!

Reaching half a million members in February was just the start to our most successful Rally Day yet with over 2000 volunteers joining us in Austin, including a thousand students.

On February 25, PTA volunteers lined the pews and aisles of the historic First United Methodist Church for the Priorities Caucus. We heard from many honored guests including Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen and Commissioner of Education Mike Morath.

Standing room only, the Youth Caucus was especially impressive. Students were well prepared and clearly felt confident and empowered to speak with legislators, staffers, and other guest speakers on issues of importance to them and the whole of public education in the state. Kudos to teachers and parents for fully educating them on Texas PTA’s legislative priorities so our students felt empowered to advocate on their own behalf. Training up future leaders is an important component of the work of PTA.

Our association’s influence on pending legislation at the Capitol has never been as clear as it was this past session. Our volunteers were quick to respond to action alerts in overwhelming numbers. Our collective response to certain bills not only caught the attention of key legislators but moved them to work with Texas PTA and address our concerns. That’s the power of PTA.

President-Elect and Advocacy Chair Suzi Kennon will share more details on our successes this past session with you soon. As for now, the bills are sitting with Governor Abbott waiting to be signed. Fingers crossed! All in all, we had a very successful, albeit intense at times, 86th legislative session. Many thanks to Suzi, Ellen Arnold (Texas PTA’s Governmental Affairs), and the Advocacy Committee for the many hours they spent to ensure Texas PTA was diligent and purposeful when advocating for our children.

Texas PTA Leaders and volunteers: Great work! You stepped up and together we made a difference for Texas students and schools!

As you ease into the summer, know that the Texas PTA Board of Directors continues to put in the work. During the first few days of June, we embarked upon our first ever YES! Youth Empowered for Success summer session at UT Austin in collaboration with the Annette Strauss Institute. 20 rising juniors and seniors from across the state arrived in Austin to learn about policymaking and the art of civic engagement. We look forward to hearing how they will apply this knowledge in their own communities.

Next, we’re off to Columbus, Ohio, for the National PTA Convention in June. We look forward to seeing many of our volunteers there as we exercise our (Texas-sized) voice on key business items, network, and learn from colleagues in other states.

I’m excited to announce there are several Texas PTA State and Council Leaders who will present at the convention, sharing the great things going on in Texas PTA. This year’s convention is made extra special because our own Leslie Boggs (Texas PTA President, 2014-2016) will be installed as the next National PTA President. Congratulations, Leslie!

Once we’re back from Ohio, we’ll wrap up the final details of LAUNCH. We look forward to seeing you at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, July 19-21. With over 150 workshops available to enrich the volunteer experience, there is certainly something for everyone! And, of course, a lot of fun is planned, too.

In October, we will celebrate Texas PTA’s 110th anniversary. These festivities will kick off at LAUNCH, beginning with a panel of past State Presidents who will share stories of their PTA journey. I encourage all Leaders to begin gathering the history of your PTA.

Spending three days with passionate, eager, and knowledgeable volunteers from across the state is just the energizer needed to prepare us for back to school and another incredible year in PTA. You will not want to miss LAUNCH!

I want to recognize someone who truly exemplified service and advocacy, Karen Slay. Many of you had the privilege to serve as a PTA Leader during Karen’s term as State President, 2012-2014. She was committed to advocating for children far beyond PTA and even state lines. I know she is smiling on us with pride as we carry the torch and champion for our students. I know Karen would have been right there beside us on the Capitol Steps for Rally Day if able. Help us honor Karen’s memory by continuing her legacy and advocating for every child with determination and excellence.