Friday, July 24, 2015

National PTA Lauds Senate Judiciary Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Improve the Nation’s Juvenile Justice System

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (July 24, 2015) Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would reauthorize the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA). The bill’s passage by the committee is an important first step to improve and strengthen the juvenile justice system in the United States. The JJDPA, which was signed into law in 1974 and last reauthorized in 2002, prevents children and youth from entering the juvenile justice system and protects those currently in the system.

“While the impact of the JJDPA over the last 40 years has been remarkable, reauthorization of the law is long overdue and improvements need to be made to the nation’s juvenile justice system. Loopholes in the JJDPA and amendments made to the law over the years have weakened its protections and resulted in thousands of children and youth being detained for minor offenses,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA applauds the Senate Judiciary Committee and the leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) for passing the bipartisan Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015. We commend their commitment to improving the juvenile justice system for our nation’s youth.”

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Reauthorization Act of 2015 would improve current law by:

  • Ensuring the continuity of children’s education while detained and a smooth transition back into the classroom after;
  • Providing guidance to states to reduce racial and ethnic disparities among youth in the juvenile justice system;
  • Making sure detained youth are kept separate from adults; and
  • Phasing out exemptions that allow youth detainment for minor offenses.
“National PTA has advocated for a fair, safe and rehabilitative justice system for children for more than one hundred years. The association continues to encourage and support policies and programs that work to prevent juvenile delinquency and provide youth in the system with services to help them become productive members of society,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “We remain committed to working with Congress to ensure a JJDPA reauthorization bill is signed into law that enhances protections for youth and helps every child reach his or her full potential.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Learn More and Get Your Questions Answered on Washington's K-12 Learning Standards and Assessments

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and Ready Washington (ReadyWA) invite you to join a telephone town hall meeting about Washington’s K-12 learning standards and assessments. This is your opportunity to learn more and ask any questions you may have about learning standards and assessments in our state.

OSPI and ReadyWA will host a telephone town hall for the communities below on the following dates:

Wednesday, July 22 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Southwest Washington, Olympic Peninsula, Kitsap Peninsula and Tacoma

Thursday, July 23 | 7:00 pm - 8:00 p.m.
Central and Eastern Washington

Tuesday, July 28 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Northwest Washington

Thursday, July 30 | 7:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Puget Sound area

Tuesday, August 4 | 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
South Puget Sound

To participate and live-stream a telephone town hall on your computer or mobile device on the dates above, please visit the Tele-Town Hall on K-12 Education website.

To help ensure all students are ready for success after high school, the Common Core State Standards were established. Washington’s K-12 learning standards are aligned to the Common Core State Standards and provide clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English Language Arts from kindergarten through 12th grade. The Smarter Balanced assessment system, which is aligned to the new standards, provides a way for teachers to measure student progress on those standards throughout the year and make adjustments and interventions as necessary to ensure students are on the pathway to success. The assessments are administered in grades 3-8 and 11.

To learn more, visit the OSPI website and the Ready Washington website.

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 Senate Passage

The Every Child Achieves Act of 2015 (ECAA) was passed by the Senate on a vote of 81-17. National PTA applauds the leadership of Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) for crafting the historic and bipartisan legislation. We believe that this bill is a solid foundation for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—No Child Left Behind (ESEA-NCLB). The Senate bill will soon go to a Conference Committee with the House to work out the differences between its reauthorization bill, the Student Success Act (H.R. 5).
Throughout the consideration of the reauthorization of ESEA-NCLB, National PTA and PTA members across the nation strongly advocated for the inclusion of several provisions to improve family engagement in the bill. Thousands of PTA members and advocates called, emailed and tweeted at Senators voicing their support for amendments to improve family engagement in the bill. Because of this impressive grassroots advocacy by PTA members, the Senate adopted an amendment by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that will provide school districts and schools with the capacity to effectively engage families in their children’s education. The inclusion of this program in the Senate bill is a huge victory for children and families. The House bill (H.R. 5) also includes this program.
Furthermore, in large part to the efforts of local PTA members, the bill contains several other laudable family engagement provisions such as the inclusion of parents in the development of school district plans to support student achievement and promote family engagement strategies in early childhood learning programs. Additionally, through the leadership of Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jack Reed (D-RI), language was also included to encourage Title I school districts to invest additional resources in family engagement. In total, 178 amendments were introduced, with 65 accepted and 13 rejected. Several accepted amendments included the creation of a student data privacy commission to inform policymakers on updates to current laws governing this issue, addressing student access to digital learning resources at home, and the establishment of a full-service community schools grant program. Other amendments that were adopted include a proposal from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) allowing certain funds to be spent on mental health awareness programs and one by Sen. Bennet that would require states to limit the total time students spend on tests.
National PTA has long advocated against any proposal that would permit federal dollars to follow a student to another public school or for private school vouchers. The association was pleased that several amendments that attempted to do so were defeated.
Now that both houses of Congress have passed bills to reauthorize the ESEA-NCLB, they must come together to work out the differences between the two bills in conference committees. Once there is agreement, the bill will go back to each chamber of Congress for another vote. The final step is to send the bill to President Obama for his approval. We are excited that this long overdue reauthorization is closer to a reality. National PTA will continue to work to improve educational opportunities and experiences of all children across the United States.

Lindsay Kubatzky is the government affairs coordinator at National PTA.