This past weekend I had the pleasure of continuing the long standing partnership between Oregon PTA and the Oregon School Boards Association by bringing greetings to their Sunday breakfast. As my words were well received I’ve decided to share them with you here.
Let me start the day by saying thank you. Thank you for your long standing partnership with Oregon PTA. Thank you for your commitment to public education. Thank you for the time you spend in your districts across this state. Thank you for having me here today. Thank you!
I came to the Oregon PTA over 8 years ago when the soccer moms, along with my wife, asked me to attend a PTA meeting, which just so happened to be right after soccer practice. As I walked in I quickly realized something was up… it was election night, and I was immediately nominated, and elected, to become a local unit president. Yes, the soccer moms staged a coup. They were disenfranchised with the current board, and they wanted me bring the same leadership I show on the soccer field to the school. Two years later I was nominated by Oregon PTA to be a region director, I got to oversee a dozen PTA units around central Oregon. Just a few years later I was elected the President Elect, and on June 1st of this year I became the first male president of Oregon PTA.
When people outside of PTA think about PTA… the typically have visions of room moms, bake sales, and carnivals. While those things might be historically accurate, todays PTA is so much more. Today’s PTA is about building a family school partnership where parents, teachers, and administrators come together to create a community where kids are given the ability to reach their full potential. Today’s PTA is about training parents to be good advocates for not only their kids, but for all kids. Today’s PTA is about communication, opportunity, empowerment, and responsibility. Today’s PTA is about being engaged at home, in school, and around the community. Today’s PTA is bearded, tattooed and pierced. Today’s PTA is about speaking for every child, with one voice.
Before I came here yesterday I talked to my kids about the Promise of Oregon. Our obligation for them to reach their full potential. You know more than anyone that for years we’ve been asking teachers to do more with less. For my son, a fifth grader, this equates to things like “no haunted house at the harvest festival”, because there just wasn’t time. For years, the fifth grade class has constructed and run a haunted house. It might seem small, but for kids who have been looking forward to this for years it was a tough pill to swallow. At 10 years old, he may not understand that increased class size is effecting his teachers ability to teach, but my daughter, a freshman in high school does… she has classes where there are two students to a desk. Now, they are both excited about the advances of technology in the classroom, but she consistently mentions that the curriculum is nothing more than scanned pages out of a text book. We can do better. I believe in the Promise of Oregon, but until we fully fund education that promise will remain a dream.
I’m sure we could have a long heated discussion on the best way to fund education, and I’m not going there today. Today I want you to think about engaging parents. I want you to think about what the family school partnership looks like in your districts. Is it welcoming? Is it supporting? Is it empowering parents to be good advocates for their children? Is it collaborating with the community?
PTA can help make all these things happen. Together, we can make these things happen. Together we can make the Promise of Oregon more than just a dream. We can make the Promise of Oregon a reality.