PTA: It's about more than bake sales

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Shellie Pike, guest columnist

When you hear someone talk about PTA, a few things may come to mind, especially in the wake of the recent release of the hit movie, “Bad Moms.” Unfortunately, there are several misconceptions about Parent Teacher Associations (PTA); the biggest being that PTA is simply a fundraising organization. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

The mission of PTA is “to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.” While this sounds like an unattainable mission, the PTA has been accomplishing its goals for over 119 years by providing a support system for each PTA member and PTA unit.

Each local school PTA unit has the ability to affect change at the local, state or national level since every PTA is automatically part of the Iowa PTA and National PTA. With more than 7,000 PTA members in Iowa, we advocate on issues important to Iowa including the implementation of Every Student Succeeds Act over the next few years. Additionally, as a subsidiary of the National PTA, our collective voice is heard when nearly 4 million members speak up on issues affecting the youth of today. PTA is the country’s largest child advocacy association with over 119 years advocating. According to the National PTA website, advocacy, including family and community education, has been established through programs and legislation that improves our children’s lives, including:

• Creation of Kindergarten classes

• Child labor laws

• Public health service

• Hot and healthy lunch programs

• Juvenile justice system

• Mandatory immunization

• Arts in Education

• School Safety

While many PTA units do hold fundraisers, they do so to help them attain their mission and goals. PTA promotes that each fundraiser should be accompanied by three activities geared at family engagement or community involvement. This policy ensures that parents and students are engaged in the actions at the school.

As a young parent, I needed to find my voice and PTA helped me accomplish just that. As my children are getting older, I am asked why I am still involved. The answer is simple! There are more children out there that need my voice to make positive changes on their behalf.

With the 2016-17 school year beginning, there is a unit close to your home looking for your membership and/or support. Please take a few minutes to reach out to these wonderful PTAs and show your support for their efforts. PTA membership is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

In addition to supporting PTA, National PTA teams up with businesses committed to supporting PTA’s mission of serving all children by offering our members special discounts, fundraising opportunities and other unique deals for all members. Some of these benefits include discounts for rental cars, vacation planning and purchasing school supplies. If you can’t find a unit near you to join, consider joining the Iowa PTA via the Neva Taylor Membership. All proceeds from this $10 membership are used to fund our scholarship program.

Whether volunteering, attending a PTA function, or joining a local unit, your support will ensure that Every Child is represented by One Voice. When asked why I joined PTA, it is an easy answer — I wanted to be involved in and informed about the school in a positive way.

• Shellie Pike, of Cedar Rapids, has been involved with PTA for over 13 years and currently is president of Iowa PTA.

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