National PTA Advocacy

Founded in 1897, National PTA has a long, successful history of influencing federal policy to promote the education, health and well-being of all children – resulting in kindergarten classes, child labor laws, school lunch programs, a juvenile justice system and strengthened parent-teacher relationships.

New Mexico PTA was chartered by National PTA in 1915 to address the needs of students and assist families in advocating for the needs of their students. Some of the advocacy efforts of NMPTA resulted in:

the 1920’s – Furnished warm lunches for school children, weighed children, assisted with physical examinations, visited homes and added to libraries.

In the 30’s – Worked successfully to pass legislation requiring a driver’s license and legislation for a sales tax to support the schools.
In the 40’s – Urged legislators to provide additional teachers for children with disabilities.
In the 50’s – Assisted in implementation of a Safety Program of traffic lights or speed control regulations around schools.
In the 60’s – Worked to secure funds for guidance and counseling in schools.
In the 70’s – Advocated for funding programs for equal education opportunities.
In the 80’s – Supported background checks for school and day care personnel, the Volunteer Protection Act and legislative funding for education.
In the 90’s – Worked to pass legislation implementing a graduated driver’s license program.
In the 2000’s – Partnered with the Immunization Coalition to promote free immunizations for children entering school.
In the 2010’s – Conducted trainings and distributed information to families on how to read and interpret test scores. Organized and partnered with NM non-profits to offer NM Legislative training to students and families during the NM Legislative session.

What is Advocacy?

For the purposes of PTA, advocacy is supporting and speaking up for children – in schools, in communities, and before government bodies and other organizations that make decisions affecting children.

  • Speak up for your child. Advocacy is happening every time you reach out to a teacher or school administrator to address a concern about your child’s education. This could be as simple as attending a parent-teacher conference, checking in with the teacher about a low test score, or requesting a meeting with your principal and other school staff to discuss your child’s disability and how the school can help.
  • Take action to improve conditions for all children at your school. A group of concerned parents might write a letter or request a meeting with school administration to discuss a safety issue affecting children on their route to school. Your PTA might organize a “town hall” meeting about school lockdown procedures, dress codes, or nutrition in the cafeteria, ask to review the principal’s continuous improvement plan, or request a seat on the school’s advisory committee.
  • Call on your community to respond to an urgent public policy matter. Occasionally, your state or National PTA will issue an alert that a pending piece of legislation has serious implications for public education. Local PTA leaders are in a unique position to educate and mobilize their members to speak up for children’s needs.
  • Even a few minutes makes a difference. You can have a significant impact in a short amount of time. When a decision-maker receives five calls, emails or letters on an issue, he or she knows the public is concerned about it. Below are some quick ways to advocate on behalf of our children:

If you have…..         You can…..
5 minutes                Vote, send an email, or make a phone call to an elected official
10 minutes              Share a concern with your child’s teacher or principal
15 minutes              Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper
30 minutes              Meet with your legislator at his/her New Mexico office
1 hour                      Educate yourself about the candidates running for office and their positions on public education
1-3 hours                 Attend your local school board meeting, or a city council meeting when education is on the agenda.

Develop an Advocacy Plan

We all have wishes and dreams for our children. When it comes to advocacy, planning is key to making those dreams a reality. The new school year is a great time for your PTA to consider what opportunities exist in your school, district, city, state and nationally to improve the lives of all children. As your students head back to school, take some time to plan for how your PTA will advocate for every child with one voice.

There are many reasons for a PTA to create an advocacy plan, and the basic approach is the same for each. Your PTA might create a plan to:

  • Identify and advocate for the local issues of greatest important to your members
  • Engage your membership to respond to time-critical legislative alerts from National PTA or your State PTA
  • Participate in school, district and state improvement activities
  • Register voters or host candidate forums in an election year

Remember, your PTA does not have to tackle every issue all at once. Choose one or two topics that affect families, teachers and students in your community and work to build support.

Key Points to Remember:

  • Every PTA member is an advocate for children.We are engaged in advocacy every time we support and speak up for children.
  • PTA advocacy changes lives.New Mexico PTA has a long, successful history of influencing policy to promote children’s education, health and well-being.
  • Request that advocacy be on the agenda at every PTA meeting. Share what you’re learning with your board and general membership. This is a great way to spark interest and increase family engagement.

We need your voice! Working together, we can continue to make a difference for all children. Please contact NMPTA at 505-881-0712 or email the office at nmpta@newmexicopta.org if we can help your PTA in your advocacy efforts. We look forward to working with you!