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National PTA Honors Senator Michael Bennet and Congressman Lou Barletta for Commitment to Strengthening Family Engagement in Education

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Heidi May Wilson, Media Relations Manager

Congressional leaders to be recognized at 2016 National PTA Legislative Conference

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (March 2, 2016)—National PTA is pleased to recognize Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Congressman Lou Barletta (R-PA) with its 2016 Congressional Voice for Children Award. The award honors outstanding leadership and commitment to strengthening family engagement to improve education and ensure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Senator Bennet and Congressman Barletta will be presented with the award at the 2016 National PTA Legislative Conference, Wednesday, March 9 during a luncheon at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

“Through the leadership of Senator Bennet and Congressman Barletta, legislation has advanced that prioritizes family engagement in education and will make a difference for children, families and schools,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “We applaud them for being champions of change that will improve education and the lives and futures of our nation’s youth. We are thrilled to honor them with our 2016 Congressional Voice for Children Award.”

Senator Bennet was instrumental to the inclusion of the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program in the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act/Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA/ESSA). The SFEC program will provide states and districts with the capacity to support effective implementation and enhancement of family engagement policies and initiatives. In addition to his work on family engagement and ESEA/ESSA, Senator Bennet has introduced a number of bills to improve education, including the Service for Schools Act of 2015, Higher Education Innovation Act, Investing in Innovation for Education Act of 2015 and All Kids Matter Act. Senator Bennet has been a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for the past seven years. Prior to his election to Congress, Senator Bennet was superintendent of Denver Public Schools, where he worked to turn around low-performing schools and increase investments in education.

Since his election in 2011, Congressman Barletta has served on the House Education and the Workforce Committee and supported family engagement issues. Congressman Barletta co-sponsored the Family Engagement in Education Act in 2013 and 2015. The legislation was intended to inform comprehensive reauthorization of ESEA and provide much-needed resources to build effective family-school partnerships. In addition to family engagement, Congressman Barletta has advocated for better access to healthy and nutritious meals for students and introduced the School Food Modernization Act to help schools replace outdated kitchen equipment and improve infrastructure. He also worked to restore the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) program in the reauthorization of ESEA/ESSA. The 21st CCLC program supports the creation of community learning centers that provide academic enrichment opportunities during non-school hours for children, particularly students who attend high-poverty and low-performing schools. 

“While many members of Congress talk about the importance of involved families in student success and school improvement, Senator Bennet and Congressman Barletta led the charge to ensure critical family engagement provisions were included in the reauthorization of ESEA/ESSA,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “With their leadership, states and districts will be able to scale up best practices that have been proven to positively impact student learning. National PTA commends Senator Bennet and Congressman Barletta for their commitment to the importance of family engagement and for taking action to make a difference for the education, health and well-being of every child.”

Every year, the National PTA Legislative Conference brings together PTA leaders and advocates from across the country. During the conference—themed, “Family Engagement Drives Student Success”—attendees will hear from speakers and participate in interactive workshops and trainings to hone their advocacy skills. Attendees will also amplify their voices by meeting with congressional leaders on Capitol Hill, Thursday, March 10. For more information, visit

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.