Advocacy is using your voice, speaking up, taking action. Advocacy is a way of thinking, a way of being. Advocating together is an excellent way to connect with our family and learn about the things that matter to each member. Research reveals that in a world full of challenges and bad news, people who engage in actions feel more positive. This is true even for very young people, who can often feel the most powerless - something as simple as helping write or send a letter and learning about service can make them feel more hopeful about their future. Everyone, no matter how small, can do something.

Advocacy Week: February 6th-10th, 2023

Your actions throughout this week will be quick and easy but will make a tremendous impact. It will be so easy that you can take action from home, while waiting for a coffee order, or sitting in your child’s pick-up line!

WSPTA will be asking members to act virtually throughout Focus on Advocacy Week. Each day will focus on an important part of the WSPTA platform. The best way to participate is by subscribing to the WSPTA Action Network so that you receive the daily calls to action for this week and periodically throughout the legislative session. You will be provided with easily customizable messages that the action alert system will automatically send to your legislators. It is easy to do and only takes a few minutes! We also encourage you to share your advocacy work on your personal and PTA social media accounts throughout the week using the hashtag #WSPTAOneVoice.

Visit their site to learn more about how your WSPTA is advocating. You can also find tips and helpful tools for becoming a stronger advocate in their site.

Advocacy and You

Voting is the best way to advocate, it is a privilege, a right, and a responsibility. The outcomes of elections impact all of our futures. So, register to vote, and vote! Every community member of voting age should be registered and vote in every election, especially local ones.

While voting is the most essential act of Democracy, true Democracy is a lifelong process of educating yourself and taking action to keep elected officials accountable and serving the people. As our kids grow and the world continues to change, we need to stay aware of the challenges our communities face. This is a daunting task, but you will feel empowered when you put the time and mental/emotional energy we spend complaining (we all do it, and that is part of the process) into doing something, even if it’s small. 

  • Join A Committee: JSIS PTSA has an Advocacy committee working on Legislative and DLI issues. Contact us at theboard@jsispta.org
  • Attend Meetings: listen in while you’re cooking or eating dinner, driving kids to sports, or while waiting at pick up. Most meetings are offered online and many are recorded, so you can listen to them like you would a podcast when it is convenient for you.
  • Contact your reps: most of our legislative representatives hold town halls or have newsletters that help us stay informed of what they are doing (or not doing). Find out who your reps are, save their phone numbers and email address, and contact them often. They represent you, and the best way to ensure that, is making sure they are hearing from you!
  • Join Groups - check Google and Social media for special interest groups working on a cause you want to support. There's a lot of people already doing good work on most issues. Find them, get in touch, and see how you can be part of the change! For example, if you care about stopping gun violence, check out how you can contribute to the work that MomsDemandAction and EveryTownForGunSafety are doing.
  • Sign Up for Action Alerts - most actions take just a few minutes, like endorsing legislation (pro/con), customizing a letter, writing a few sentences about your personal experience or story, etc.
  • Volunteering: doing this as a family shows our children how to turn our words into action. Something as simple as involving your kids in your voting considerations and actions can open the door to valuable conversations. Check the volunteer opportunities section of this page for some ideas!

Advocacy and PTSA

If you are a PTSA member, you are already an advocate in the largest and oldest advocacy organization working exclusively on behalf of children and youth. For over 125 years, the National PTA has grown into a network of millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA advocacy efforts have been responsible for the establishment of kindergarten in public education, free and subsidized school lunch programs, child labor laws, public health in schools, arts in education, juvenile justice system reform and the integration with the NCCPTA (National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers) among other advancements. Thank you for being a member!

 

PTA Advocacy in 2022-23

The top issues of 2022-2023 voted in by the Washington State PTA are:

 

The 2022 Washington State Legislative Session WSPTA Final Report lists bills that passed related to WSPTA member-generated legislative priorities and long-term positions.

At JSIS, we are also prioritizing issues relevant to our school in particular: 

  • DLI
  • Encampment

Advocacy Toolkit

Volunteer Ideas in Seattle

  • BikeWorks - host a repair party, bike collection drive, or get involved in their annual kids bike swap.
  • Compass Housing Alliance - provides services and housing options to people struggling with homelessness and poverty in Seattle. Donate a holiday meal, make holiday meal baskets, form a cleaning crew or yard work party, or purchase grocery gift cards for families.
  • Doing Good Together - ideas for volunteering in/around Seattle.
  • Food Banks - sort food, stock shelves, distribute food, or assist with special events.
  • Jubilee Women’s Center - cook a meal at home and serve it to the residents, or drop off meals for women to heat-and-eat on their own.
  • Imagine Housing - only nonprofit organization in East King County dedicated solely to developing affordable rental homes for low-income families. Take on a property beautification or resident life enhancement project.
  • Page Ahead - provides new books and develops reading activities that empower at-risk children. 
  • Pet Partners - become a therapy animal team with your pet.
  • Volunteer Match is an online service that matches your interests with over 90,000 nonprofit organizations.
  • Washington Trails Association - kids ages 10 and up can participate on their own during work parties, those under 14 must be accompanied by a supervising adult.

Power Structures (or Who Does What)

Effective advocacy is easier to do when we know who to talk about what, and when we understand the power structure that can lead to change. Below is an overview of the current structure of governance at a local, state, and national level.

 

PTSAs Structure

PTSAs advocate at all levels. Click on each one to visit their websites and learn more.

 

Public Education Structure

Education is primarily a State and local responsibility in the United States. It is States and communities, as well as public and private organizations of all kinds, that establish schools and colleges, develop curricula, and determine requirements for enrollment and graduation. The structure of education finance in America reflects this predominant State and local role. This is especially true at the elementary and secondary level, where about 92% of the funds will come from non-Federal sources. This means the Federal contribution to elementary and secondary education is about 8%, which includes funds from the Department of Education (DOE) as well as from other Federal agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services' Head Start program, and the Department of Agriculture's School Lunch program. 

Although the DOE's share of total education funding in the U.S. is relatively small, it works to target its funds where they can do the most good. This targeting reflects the historical development of the Federal role in education as a kind of "emergency response system," a means of filling gaps in State and local support for education when critical national needs arise. Such activities include raising national and community awareness of the education challenges confronting the Nation, disseminating the latest discoveries on what works in teaching and learning, and helping communities work out solutions to difficult educational issues. While DOE's programs and responsibilities have grown substantially over the years, the Department itself has not. In fact, the Department has the smallest staff of the 15 Cabinet agencies, even though its discretionary budget alone is the third largest, behind only the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, the Department provides over $150 billion in new and consolidated loans annually.

  • National: U.S. Department of Education, led by the Secretary of Education -currently Dr. Miguel Cardona
  • State: The Washington State Board of Education (SBE) has sixteen members, including two student members, the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) -currently Chris Reykdal, one member elected by the private schools, five members elected by local school boards, and seven members appointed by the Governor. The Board holds six regularly scheduled public meetings each year.
  • County/Region: SPS, SEA (teachers' union), Board of Education
  • Local: Everyone at our school, from our principal to our teachers, to our families. This includes You! - parents, caregivers, and kids. You can have a say on things, your involvement, your membership, and your voting are your voice to legislators. 

 

Government / Legislative Structure

As a first step, find your congressional and state district here. Then save the names and contact information for your congressional and state Representatives on your phone for easy access.

  • Federal - President: responsible for implementing and enforcing the laws written by Congress and, to that end, appoints the heads of the federal agencies, including the Cabinet. The President has the power either to sign legislation into law or to veto bills enacted by Congress, although Congress may override a veto with a two-thirds vote of both houses.
  • Federal - Legislators: two Senators are allotted for each state. WA has Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. The number of Representatives in the House is determined by the population of each state. WA has 10 reps covering 10 districts: Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Marie Perez, Dan Newhouse, Cathy Rodgers, Derek Kilmer, Pramila Jayapal, Kim Schrier, Adam Smith, Marilyn Strickland.
  • State - Governor: responsible for how the state is run. Some duties include addressing each session of the legislature on the state and making recommendations, and submitting the state's budget. WA Governor is Jay Inslee.
  • WA Legislature: keep an eye on the bills being discussed in current legislative sessions, and contact your district reps (use the link above to find your state district and reps). A lot of change nowadays happens on the State level!
  • Mayor: head of the executive branch of Seattle's municipal government, Bruce Harrell is the current mayor of Seattle.
  • City Council