2020 Advocacy Awards Winners

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Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award

California State PTA

California State PTA dedicated its efforts to raising awareness about healthier school start times. The association played an instrumental role in the passage of SB 328, which requires that middle schools in California start no earlier than 8 a.m. and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. Prior to California State PTA’s advocacy efforts, the average start time for middle and high schools in the state was 8:07 a.m., which was contrary to the sleep health needs and developmental norms of adolescents. California State PTA implemented a multi-faceted advocacy plan which included trainings, working with local PTA leaders, legislative visits, outreach for critical votes, and media outreach and coverage all in support of SB 328. California State PTA also targeted key legislators and the Governor, successfully using local PTA members to carry the message and secure the passage of the bill. As a result of California State PTA’s advocacy efforts, California is the first state in the nation to require later school start times for middle and high school students.

Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award

Will Davis Elementary PTA (Texas)

Will Davis Elementary PTA conducted an advocacy campaign to urge their elected officials to increase education funding and create a new recapture formula that more effectively utilizes taxpayer money. The goal of the recapture system in Texas is to help make public school funding more equitable between school districts by having wealthy districts send locally-collected property tax revenue to the state to distribute to lower-wealth districts. However, Will Davis Elementary PTA’s district was facing a financial crisis. Their advocacy team decided to use a recent bond election to grow awareness about the crisis, including detailing the resources that are required to run a school district and the origin of those funds. Will Davis Elementary PTA partnered with two nonprofits to create and distribute information about school funding across the state to help parents understand the context of school finance discussions. The advocacy team met with elected officials and their aides to discuss funding and regularly attended meetings with other area advocacy groups to share information and implement new strategies. Will Davis Elementary PTA’s advocacy efforts came to fruition most notably with the passage of HB 3, which increased education funding and changed aspects of the recapture formula, providing some budget relief for their school district.

Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award

Carol Kocivar (San Francisco, Calif.) 

Carol Kocivar’s advocacy efforts span many issue areas. Among her efforts, Kocivar screens pending legislation for bills that will have an impact on the education, health and welfare of California’s children and families. Her advocacy includes work on increasing investments in quality public education, school infrastructure, public school choice and charter accountability, as well as safe and supportive school environments. Kocivar was instrumental in securing the defeat of tax credits for private school tuition, securing a $15 billion school facility bond on an upcoming ballot, conforming California charter school policies with the positions of California State PTA and National PTA, and helping secure the passage of later school time legislation. Kocivar has been an advocate for California State PTA for the past eight years and continues to lead the legislation team in the areas of budget and education. 

Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award

Zoe Tishaev (Germantown, Md.)

Zoe Tishaev dedicated her advocacy efforts to extending free ridership on public buses for students in Montgomery County Public Schools. Prior to Tishaev’s advocacy, students were permitted to ride public buses for free only on weekdays between the hours of 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. This narrow window of hours severely limited the ability of students to participate in key extracurricular events. As a member of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs, Tishaev’s initial advocacy on this issue consisted of meeting with members of the Montgomery County Council Transportation and Environment Committee and giving public testimony. She also circulated a petition to pressure elected officials to expand access to transportation through county PTA email lists and social media, which resulted in over 1,000 signatories. Tishaev’s advocacy resulted in the successful expansion of no-charge transportation for students to 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Her advocacy efforts led to ease of transportation for students and reduced financial burden for families traveling to school meetings, events and appointments.

Congressional Voice for Children Award

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Senator Lamar Alexander was elected to the United States Senate in 2002. Alexander currently serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee as Chair; the Senate Appropriations Committee; the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. He has had a long and distinguished career in education which includes playing an integral role in the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) which contains several laudable family engagement provisions such as the Statewide Family Engagement Centers. Alexander’s leadership and support over the years increased opportunities and knowledge for our nation’s students as a result of the historic passage of ESSA. He has previously served as president of the University of Tennessee and as U.S. Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush. Senator Alexander is married to Honey Alexander and has four children and nine grandchildren.

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03)

Representative Rosa DeLauro was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1991. DeLauro currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee, Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee and the House Budget Committee. As Chair, she oversees our nation’s investments in education. Rep. DeLauro has been a constant advocate for children and families and diligently worked to secure $15 million for the Statewide Family Engagement Centers program in the FY 20 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill passed by the House of Representatives. She has also led efforts and secured increases for elementary and secondary education which demonstrates a commitment to ensuring every child is able to reach their full potential. Rep. DeLauro is married to Stanley Greenberg and has three children and six grandchildren.

About the Awards

Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award

The Outstanding State PTA Advocacy Award is presented to a state PTA that, through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy compatible with PTA’s mission and goals.

These efforts must be based on a statewide issue, involve working with multiple organizations or coalitions through grassroots collaboration, and contain a public awareness/advocacy training component for PTA members and the community at large.

Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award

The Outstanding Local PTA Advocacy Award is presented to a local, district, council or regional PTA that, through their dedication, leadership and efforts positively affected legislative and/or regulatory policy compatible with PTA’s mission and goals.

These efforts must include an education/learning component for PTA members and the community-at-large. Working with multiple organizations or coalitions through grassroots collaboration is preferred.

Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award

The Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award is presented to an individual PTA member, who through their leadership and advocacy efforts, affected federal policy priorities within PTA’s annual Public Policy Agenda.

Shirley was a model of public service and volunteerism throughout her life. She was an impassioned and compassionate leader, dedicated to moving PTA forward and committed to ensuring that others would follow.

Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award

The Outstanding Youth Advocate of the Year Award is presented to a young person—who—through his or her creativity, leadership, and dedication, has positively affected policy or change in his or her school or community in a way that aligns with PTA’s mission and goals.

PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award

The PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award is given to two Members of Congress each year (bicameral, bipartisan) in recognition of outstanding leadership related to child and education advocacy.

Congressional award winners are nominated and selected by the National PTA Legislation Committee and National PTA President.