News from National Convention: Resolutions

PTA resolutions are a way for the membership of the association to express its opinion and intent to address issues affecting the lives of children and youth. They focus and formalize the position of the PTA on a variety of issues. At the 2017 National PTA convention in Las Vegas, the delegates adopted one resolution and added one more resolved clause to an existing resolution.

Resolution on Healthy Sleep for Adolescents

Any parent of a teenager knows how hard it can be to get them in bed at a decent hour, much less get them out of bed the next morning to get them to school. Research confirms this, noting that adolescents have their sleep patterns shift from those of their younger years, having difficulty falling asleep before 11:00pm and functioning at their best when allowed to sleep until 8:00am.

Unfortunately, many teens are not getting the 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep that they need each night. More than two-thirds get less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights. The reasons for this chronic sleep deprivation in teens is varied, but include large amounts of homework, busy extracurricular and work schedules, poor sleep routines (including using cell phones and other backlit screens shortly before bed that can disrupt the ability to fall asleep), and early school start times. Approximately 40% of high schools in the United States start at 8:00am or earlier.

The result of this sleep deprivation in teens results in increased risks in many aspects of their lives, including an increased likelihood of accidents due to impaired driving, an increased risk of depression and suicide, and an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, metabolic dysfunction, and other physical health problems in adulthood.

Early school start times have been identified as a key, but easily modified, component of adolescent sleep deprivation. Schools that have moved start times later for their older students have seen not only decreases in tardiness, absences, and discipline issues but also increases in student performance and greater participation in extracurricular activities.

To address these issues, the resolution calls on PTAs to educate youth, parents, educators, school personnel, school boards, athletic coaches, athletic organizations, state board of education members, and the community about the positive impact that sufficient, quality sleep has for teens’ health, safety, academic success, and future earnings.

PTAs are also encouraged (modified by the delegates from “urged” in the proposed resolution to address areas of the country with limited daylight hours during part of the year) to collaborate with other stakeholders and policymakers to develop solutions and policies that allow teens to get sufficient, quality sleep. National PTA is directed to work with the Department of Education to encourage states and school districts to incorporate standards regarding sleep needs and patterns, potential risks of insufficient sleep, signs of sleep related difficulties, and healthy sleep habits into existing health, science, physical education, and other appropriate curricula.

Proposed Amendment to Resolution on Sale, Resale and Destruction of Firearms

In 1996, the National PTA passed a resolution on the sale, resale, and destruction of firearms. Later that year, the Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that included the Dickey Amendment, an amendment that prohibited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from using funds for injury prevention and control to advocate or promote gun control. In the same bill, $2.6 million, the exact amount that had been allocated for firearms research the previous year, was earmarked for traumatic brain injury research.

The Dickey Amendment has been interpreted to mean that the CDC cannot conduct research into gun violence, and appropriations for the CDC since 1996 have continued to include the amendment. The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress attempted to remove the amendment in 2015, but were unsuccessful. It is also important to note that Jay Dickey, the representative for whom the amendment is named, has since stated that the CDC should be allowed to research the causes of gun violence, noting that “doing nothing is no longer an option.”

The amendment to the 1996 resolution inserts a new resolved clause that states: “That the National PTA and its constituent bodies shall seek and support legislation for state and federal funding initiatives for the research of the causes and effects of gun violence.” The delegate body voted to split the amendment into two resolved clauses, one directing the National PTA to work for federal legislation and funding and one directing state PTAs to do the same on the state level.

The National PTA legislation team that submitted the amendment stated that the reason for amending rather than submitting a completely new resolution was that the 1996 resolution specifically mentioned CDC research, but since that time, there has been extremely limited research to fully support a new resolution.


10 Allowance Do’s and Don’ts

An allowance is an important part of building up a child’s financial literacy. It teaches them how to save and builds responsibility. Great Schools offers a list of ten do’s and don’ts to consider before starting your child’s allowance.

  1. Have a plan: Before you start, figure out why you are giving them an allowance, how much to give, and how often. Determine if the allowance is a family member benefit or in exchange for chores or academic performance. Also think about what expenses your child will be expected to cover with their allowance.
  2. Money talks: Once you’ve figured out your plan, have a discussion with your child about their allowance and how everything will work. Answer all their questions, and consider putting the rules down in writing.
  3. Use it as a tool to teach common cents: Remember that an allowance is a chance for kids to learn how to handle money responsibly and to make financial mistakes while the stakes are low. You can ask if they’re sure about a purchase, but let them know that the final decision is theirs.
  4. The three S’s: Spending, saving sharing: When starting an allowance, it is a great opportunity to get kids to buy into the concept of spending only part of their money while saving some for larger purchases later and sharing some as well by donating to a local charity, church, or other worthwhile cause.
  5. Do chores count? The experts continue to be split on whether to tie an allowance to household chores or not, but keep in mind that when problems inevitably occur when chores don’t get done. Some kids will use the chores for cash concept against you, either not doing their chores on weeks when they don’t need the money or asking “how much?” every time you ask them to do something around the house that is not part of their regular responsibilities.
  6. Don’t deny their dues: Don’t withhold allowance for bad behavior or poor grades. An allowance should lead to better communication and trust between a parent and child, and using it as a disciplinary tool breaks that trust.
  7. Show them the money: You wouldn’t be happy if your employer was a little late with your paycheck or only gave you part on time, so don’t do the same with your child’s allowance. Determine a specific day and time to pay their allowance, and make it a priority to have the exact amount ready.
  8. How young is too young: There’s no set age to begin an allowance. Some research indicates that children as young as three or four can benefit from a very basic small allowance and that five-year-olds are often ready to save money. A good rule of thumb is that if your child has expressed an interest in what money is, how it works, and what can be done with it, they are ready for an allowance.
  9. Say no to credit: With so many purchases made online these days, it might be tempting to get an older child a debit or credit card. Experts are almost unanimous that it is far better for your child to come to you for online purchases no matter how small. Be sure to have them reimburse you right away in cash so you aren’t playing the role of the credit card.
  10. Next stop: Checkbooks! By middle or high school, your child may be ready for a checking account with you as the custodian. Doing so provides an opportunity to teach ideas like interest, budgeting, and balancing a checkbook.

Find out more about each of these tips in the Great Schools article.

Photo © 2010 by Carissa Rogers under Creative Commons license.

Revamped FERPA|Sherpa Provides More on Student Privacy

Online access and technology plays an increasing role in classrooms, and with that increase comes concerns about student data and privacy. Illinois PTA highlighted this issue a few years ago when National PTA partnered with the Future of Privacy Forum and ConnectSafely to create the Parents’ Guide to Student Data Privacy.

The guide was part of FERPA|Sherpa, a website and resource center to help students, families, educators, school districts, and legislators understand and navigate federal education privacy laws. In the past three years since FERPA|Sherpa was first launched, over 100 new laws have passed in 40 states regarding student privacy, new resources have been published, and best practices regarding student data protection continues to grow.

To reflect all those changes, FERPA|Sherpa has relaunched with a new design. Sections for families, schools and districts, education technology companies, and policymakers have been revamped. New sections for students, educators, state education agencies, and higher education have been created. A searchable resource bank of over 400 education privacy resources has been complied.

For families, the resources include not just the Parents’ Guide to Student Data Privacy, but also short videos and information on the role of student data in education, how student data empowers parents, how student data is used, and parent and student privacy rights. Of special interest to PTAs is the video on “directory information” and student privacy. There is also a section on keeping kids safe online outside of school as well.

Catch Up on National PTA Webinars

Perhaps you’ve seen them mentioned in an Illinois PTA Weekend Update e-mail or in a National PTA Newsletter. Maybe you saw it on National PTA’s Facebook page or Twitter feed. “It” being a webinar on a topic you were interested, but being held at a time you couldn’t join in. Think you’ve missed out? Think again.

National PTA has increased its media production in the past year, including Facebook Live events and webinars. For webinars that you’ve missed, you can find them on National PTA’s YouTube channel. Among recent webinars are:

So if you’ve missed a webinar on a topic you are really interested in, be sure to check out the National PTA YouTube channel a day or two after the webinar to catch up or subscribe to the channel so you can be notified when new videos come out.