Let’s face it, organizing a parent-teacher group can be hard work. However, parent-teacher initiatives can help get everyone on the same page. By setting a singular initiative for your school year, your group can more easily work together towards a common goal. Plus, when people know where their money is going, it’s easier to gain support from the community.
Here are a few suggestions for focusing your efforts this upcoming school year as you begin to prepare your PTA/PTO/Booster Club Initiative Mission Statement.
DEI Parent-Teacher Initiatives
DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) is all about improving the representation and participation of diverse groups of people, including those of different genders, backgrounds, experiences, races, ethnicities, and varying abilities and disabilities, religions, cultures, ages, and sexual identity.
The DEI goal for parent-teacher initiatives should be to ensure every student and parent at your school feels they truly belong. After all, everyone deserves an equal opportunity for scholastic success. You should always ask yourself, “How can we better evolve to meet the needs of all of our families?”
Accessibility is an essential part of complete DEI parent-teacher initiatives. You may want to consider whether or not the school is the most convenient place to meet. Some parents may feel uncomfortable going to the school because they may have had a bad experience in school themselves. Instead, offer members alternate options such as community centers, a restaurant with a banquet hall, or even a virtual meeting.
Critical race theory has also become a major topic of debate. According to EdWeek.org, the core idea of this academic concept is that race is a social construct and that racism is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice but something embedded in legal systems and policies. Beyond numerous state legislatures arguing over whether or not to allow this theory to be taught in schools, it’s ushering more parents to get involved. One way your group can help with DEI, is by providing a place where newly-involved, passionate parents can help drive change in your group and at your school.
Another DEI issue concerns the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ+) community. The National PTA believes schools should be a safe, supportive and respectful environment for all students. One in six LGBTQ+ youth report being physically assaulted within the past year because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. And LGBTQ+ students are two to four times more likely to commit suicide than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
The role of parent-teacher groups in schools is to unify the overall community and work to respect differences while discovering what the diverse community of parents, teachers, and students has in common. As you plan your PTA/PTO/Booster Club initiative mission statement and focus for this year, consider working to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in your school.
Education Grant Parent-Teacher Initiatives
Every school district has felt the strain of tighter budgets and reduced funding. This budget pinch makes the impact of PTAs, PTOs, and Booster Clubs on school improvement plans more critical than ever before.
While you can help your school by raising funds, another way you can improve the school funding is by helping them submit for education grants. You may want to ask if your membership includes someone with experience in writing grant proposals. If not, your local school district may have a qualified staff member. You can help by gathering information about possible sources of funding, which may include government grants, money from private companies, foundations, and individuals, as well as community and nonprofit organizations.
Some grants focus on increasing the arts in the classroom. If your school is dealing with a lack of arts education funding or state/district budget cuts for arts education, visit Art in Action to explore several programs that exist to help fund art classes and supplies.
If your school is unable to provide a music education program, Save the Music partners with public school districts to donate grants in the form of new musical instruments, technology, equipment, and resources for music teachers, in the pursuit of building sustainable music programs.
Reduced budgets and funding also impact school sports. While athletic programs traditionally rely on ticket sales and fundraisers, many organizations reward schools with grants for their sports programs. From major sports leagues and teams to sport-focused foundations, seeking out athletic grants can provide a great boost to your school’s teams.
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) has been a growing focus of education over the past few years. According to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16% of high school students are interested in STEM careers and consider themselves good at math. However, STEM-based education is vital, as STEM-related careers will grow by 28% over the next several years, compared to 6.5% for all other career tracks.
Is your school providing adequate STEM education? While the investment to start this curriculum isn’t inexpensive, it will pay dividends for students for years to come. A great site to investigate potential STEM grants for K-12 education is STEMGrants.com.
Health and Wellness Parent-Teacher Initiatives
The health and wellness behaviors children learn today will stay with them for life. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention points to schools and academic institutions as the ideal place to foster lifelong healthy behaviors. Plus, with childhood obesity and chronic health issues like diabetes on the rise, instilling healthy life habits around food and exercise is critical for creating future generations of healthy Americans.
There have been several successful health and wellness programs enacted by PTAs, PTOs, and Booster Clubs across the country. One example is Howard Drive Elementary PTA, which provided students with a safer environment at school, focusing on physical and mental health. As students returned to school after quarantining from COVID-19, the PTA bought mask lanyards to keep children from losing their face coverings and worked to get sponsorships and grants to add air purifiers for classrooms, administrative offices, and school cafeteria.
Another potential role of parent-teacher groups in schools is to enhance the nutrition of school lunches. Making a positive change begins with surveying the current food program in your school, then working with your parent-teacher group to determine what is most important to students and parents in your school. Is it a reduction of the amount of highly processed food on the menu? Is it improved adaptability to students with food allergies? And how can you collaborate with the school, the cafeteria, and food suppliers to improve menus?
A big part of the school day for young students is structured and unstructured physical activity. Budget cuts also impact the supplies that physical education programs need. Your PTA/PTO/Booster Club Initiative Mission Statement could focus on helping raise funds to ensure students are getting the most benefit from their physical activity time.
You may also want to investigate unstructured breaks and recess. Experts are now viewing recess not as a reward but as a much-needed educational support function for all students. The CDC states all children and youth ages 6-17, regardless of ability, should engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day.
Because children and youth spend a large portion of their day at school, school is often their best opportunity for physical activity with access to a safe, supervised physical play space.
The Washington State PTA passed a resolution in August of 2020 that created Equitable Access to Recess, Play, Unstructured Time, and Physical Activity. From setting times for unstructured physical breaks to a recommendation for ADA-compliant new and renovated playgrounds, their resolution provides plenty of information for you to consider when working on your initiative.
As you plan your Parent-Teacher Initiative for the school year, remember that having a singular focus improves the ability of your group to work together and increases the chances of success. Remember – your goal is to enhance the educational experience of students now and in the future. The impact of your PTA/PTO/Booster Club on school improvement plans can be immeasurable.
AIM is Here to Help Your Initiative Succeed
No matter your parent-teacher group plans for this school year, make sure your group, its property, and its funds are protected through AIM Insurance. Doing so can give your group the peace of mind and confidence to make a big difference for your school in the coming year.