PTA History: 1980-1989

In This Section

Notes from the Backpack Podcast

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  • Convention delegates voted to increase national portion of dues from 20 cents per member to 50 cents, effective September 1, 1981
  • Comprehensive School/Community Health Education Project held five showcase conferences, plus four Student Health Education Forums (SHEFs); developed training modules for state PTAs
  • Food and Nutrition Projects carried on in 20 states, with funds provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture; final report in November PTA Today
  • National PTA published and distributed four reports on Urban Education Project
  • National PTA's first Awards for Outstanding Family Programming presented to producers of TV shows rated by PTA as top ten
  • Workshops to train leaders for parent seminars on human sexuality, funded by March of Dimes, held at regional conferences; 24 states participated
  • Task force appointed to develop project on discipline
  • National PTA participated in fourth year of Japan—U.S. educational exchange visits; state groups from California, Kansas, North Carolina, and Wisconsin visited Japan
  • National PTA reelected to membership on U.S. National Commission for UNESCO; president elected to executive committee


  • Mary Ann Leveridge elected president; administration theme, "Parents and Teachers Working Together—Still the Best Aid to Education"
  • National PTA formed TV Review Panel, to review TV programs on request of producers and to determine whether a particular program merits recommendation from PTA
  • Children and Television: What Parents Can Do published in cooperation with Boys Town
  • National PTA sponsored Family Reading Week, November 15–21; was one of four sponsors of National Symposium on "Reading and Successful Living: The Family-School Partnership"
  • Grants given to eight state PTAs to conduct action programs that address the "discipline problem" in nation's schools
  • Workshops help to train state PTA/MOD teams to develop parent seminar programs on "Helping Parents to Deal with Adolescent Sexuality"
  • Oak-tree symbol with "PTA" on it adopted as official logo of National PTA
  • National PTA opposed tuition tax credit legislation and federal budget cuts in school lunch and child nutrition programs
  • What's Happening in Washington, published several times a year, sent to all local units, councils, and districts
  • Five-year education exchange program between Japan and U.S. completed; PTA leaders from Georgia, Michigan, New Jersey, and Utah visited Japan.


  • National PTA observed 85th birthday with celebration at convention, banners on Chicago's Michigan Avenue, local PTA programs
  • First Lady Nancy Reagan addressed National PTA Legislative Conference in Washington DC; spoke about White House drug awareness program and national drug policy
  • Eight TV viewing skills workshops held in various parts of country
  • TV Review Panel gave its first recommendation of a series to Wild Kingdom
  • National PTA Safety Belt-Child Restraint Project inaugurated in cooperation with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; grants given to 15 PTA educational projects; image of E.T. (the Extra-Terrestrial) with safety belt and admonition to "Get Home Safely" published in PTA Today and as a poster
  • PTA/MOD workshops trained leaders in 7 new states to conduct parent seminars, making a total of 38 states having workshops thus far
  • First March of Dimes National Award for Parenting Education presented to Union Junior High PTA in Tulsa, Okla.
  • Report prepared on eight state PTA discipline projects
  • President Reagan signed proclamation designating October 1982 as National PTA Membership Month; country rock group Alabama selected as national honorary membership chairmen for 1982–84
  • Nationwide petition drive launched in support of public education and in opposition to all tuition tax credit proposals
  • Looking In on Your School: A Workshop for Improving Public Education published


  • Elaine Stienkemeyer elected president; administration theme, "The National PTA: Advocates for Children"
  • National PTA membership for 1982–1983 increased 1.3 percent, to 5,359,521
  • National PTA participated in observance of National Children and Television Week (March);
  • National PTA President's Award for Distinguished Service to Public Education presented to Representative Carl D. Perkins during 1983 Legislative Conference
  • National PTA and state PTA leaders invited to contribute to congressional dialogue on excellence in education sparked by report of National Commission on Excellence in Education; National PTA president appointed member of House of Representatives' Education and Labor Committee's Merit Pay Task Force; many National Board members attended National Conference on Excellence in Education held in Indianapolis in December
  • National PTA (with six other national organizations) participated in launching National Coalition for Prevention of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
  • Quarter million students participated in Reflections Program; National PTA inaugurated traveling exhibit of Reflections winners
  • National PTA launched Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project; mobilized local PTAs to view PBS TV documentary The Chemical People and to participate in town meetings on combating drug and alcohol abuse among youth
  • National PTA and the Deans of Education in State Universities and Land Grant Colleges cosponsored a conference on "The Improving Quality of Public Education"
  • National PTA and MOD conducted four regional Parent Seminar meetings
  • For second year, NAESP and National PTA helped subsidize attendance of state PTA presidents at NAESP convention
  • Legislative grants as well as field service grants included in National PTA budget
  • National PTA president appointed member of National Education Advisory Committee, Statue of Liberty–Ellis Island Centennial Commission
  • The National PTA Guide to Extremism, Extremists, Extremists Groups and PTA Pocket Pal No. 2: Programs published; also Single Parents and Their Families published in cooperation with NAESP and Boys Town Center
  • U.S. President Ronald Reagan addressed convention delegates; Board approved distribution to convention delegates of National PTA position statement in support of public education
  • Convention adopted resolutions on computer technology; libraries, public schools, and censorship; child fingerprinting identification; removing children and youth from adult jails and lockups; strengthening support of public school teachers


  • Membership rose (1.3 percent) for second year in row, after nearly 20 years of decline, to more than 5.4 million members
  • Phyllis George Brown named national honorary membership chairman for 1984–1985
  • National PTA instituted Teacher Appreciation Week in May
  • National PTA initiated Looking In on Your School pilot projects to increase parent participation in schools; awarded grants to Salt Lake City, Utah, and Chanute, Kansas, councils
  • Bruce Weitz, of TV series Hill Street Blues, named honorary chairman for National PTA Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project; grants awarded to 36 PTA councils for projects on prevention of drug and alcohol abuse; National PTA, in cooperation with Wisconsin Clearinghouse, published Young Children and Drugs: What Parents Can Do
  • National PTA, with grant from William Randolph Hearst Foundation, presented first Phoebe Apperson Hearst Outstanding Educator of the Year award to Leonard L. Diggs, instrumental music teacher, O'Connell Junior High School, Lakewood, Colorado
  • Twenty councils received grants for 1984-1985 school year to conduct local safety belt and child restraint projects
  • Grants awarded to 16 state PTAs to help them administer parent seminar programs
  • Approximately 300,000 students and 48 state PTAs participated in Reflections Program; Reflections scholarship program inaugurated
  • Booklet, Parents, Children, and TV, prepared by National PTA and Highlights for Children, published; other new publications included PTA Pocket Pal #3: Leadership, Funding PTA Projects, Leader's Guide to National PTA Programs, and Help Wanted: PTA Room Representatives
  • Speakers at convention included First Lady Nancy Reagan, who spoke briefly on drug abuse, and John Walsh, consultant to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
  • Convention delegates adopted resolutions on child care facilities for latchkey children; sexual assault prevention education; alcoholic beverages in TV programming; rating system for records, tapes and cassettes; nuclear education


  • Ann P. Kahn elected president
  • National PTA proclaimed March 3-9 to be National PTA Drug and Alcohol Awareness Week; received grant from Chevron U.S.A., Inc., to produce and distribute planning kits to PTAs
  • National PTA sent packet of information on child abuse to local units, councils, and districts, including PTA Leader's Guide, Child Abuse and Child Sexual Assault: What Your PTA Can Do
  • National PTA made available free kits to help PTAs observe Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-11
  • National PTA joined several dozen other organizations in petition drive of Project SMART (Stop Marketing Alcohol on Radio and Television) to collect one million signatures to present to U.S. President and Congress


  • Establishes annual Child Safety and Protection Month
  • Launches Big City Project to increase parent involvement in urban areas


  • Manya Ungar elected president
  • Begins multiyear AIDS Education Project in cooperation with Centers for Disease Control


Initiates program advocating against teen drinking and impaired driving


  • Ann T. Lynch elected president
  • Develops free Math Matters kits for elementary, junior high, and middle school PTAs
  • Publishes National PTA Talks to Parents: How to Get the Best Education for Your Child
  • PTA Today Magazine receives Educational Press Association of America's awards for the Best Theme Issue and the Best Feature Article of the Year
  • PTA receives $1 million grant from GTE Foundation to address the issue of drug and alcohol prevention
  • Center for Disease Control grant renewed; PTA leads the nation in preparing materials for parents on the latest social concern—AIDS
  • National Convention held in Atlanta