2015 Advocacy Award Winners
PTA Outstanding State Advocacy Award
California State PTA
California State PTA’s efforts to advocate for changes in how schools are funded and how parents are involved in local decision-making contributed to the Local Control Funding Formula law passed by the California State Legislature and signed by the governor. The most sweeping change in school funding in decades, the law incorporates many of the systematic proposals sought by California State PTA, including allowing for more local decisions on how funds are spent, requiring parent and community involvement in funding decisions, targeting of funds to students most in need, and calling for greater transparency and accountability for how money is spent. Committed to the successful implementation of the changes, California State PTA testified before the State Board of Education to ensure the new regulations reflect PTA priorities as well as helped school districts across the state engage parents in creating Local Control and Accountability Plans outlining how funds will be spent and accounted for. California State PTA's main focus was on educating families and communities statewide on the new school funding law, their increased responsibility under the law and the need to be stronger advocates for their children and schools.
PTA Outstanding Local Advocacy Award
Youth’s Benefit Elementary School PTA (Maryland)
Youth’s Benefit Elementary School PTA is being honored for its efforts and success in advocating for a new building for Youth’s Benefit Elementary School. The school’s current facility is unsafe with a variety of infrastructure issues, including lead in the water, a failing septic system and leaking roofs. It also lacks adequate instructional and planning space. Members of the PTA educated themselves on all aspects of the capital project selection process, county budget process and state funding process for capital school projects. To move the project to first priority on the county’s replacement list, PTA members spoke at Board of Education and County Council meetings and budget hearings; met with the superintendent for the school system, members of the Board of Education, County Council members and the County Executive; and corresponded on a regular basis with members of the state delegation. They also wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper and routinely informed the community of opportunities to engage with district and local officials at key times throughout the process. After nearly four years of ongoing advocacy efforts, the project was approved for construction and funding was made available for a new facility.
Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award
Tami Loving (Virginia)
Tami Loving has worked tirelessly to ensure that all facilities in Chesterfield County Public Schools are compliant with ADA regulations and fully accessible to children and families with special needs. She began her advocacy efforts by visiting schools throughout the county and documenting areas where the facilities did not meet ADA standards, including lack of handicap parking, ramps, accessible paths for travel and access gates for sports facilities. After compiling an extensive list of accessibility concerns, Loving spoke at Chesterfield County School Board and Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors meetings as well as met with county and school district officials in an effort to resolve the issues. Additionally, she attended local events to educate and engage the public and used social media as a platform for community organization, advocacy and outreach. In June 2014, Loving received a ruling from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights requiring Chesterfield County Public Schools to make their facilities accessible to all students and families. As the recipient of the Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award, Loving will serve as an ambassador for National PTA, helping to positively affect policy, regulation and legislation.
Youth Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award
Carolina Sosa (Virginia)
Carolina Sosa is a passionate advocate for education, human rights, drug prevention and youth leadership. Sosa founded Scholar Society, a mentoring program for low income and first generation students. Through the program and the promotion of academic excellence, community service and leadership, Sosa’s goal is get at-risk students excited about school and motivated to achieve their goals. In addition to leading Scholar Society, Sosa also is president of the Unified Prevention Coalition Youth Council, co-president of the Volunteer Fairfax Youth Advisory Board, president of Westfield High School Key Club, serves on the Fairfax County Student Human Rights Commission and works with the Girl Up Foundation. Among her efforts in these roles, Sosa spoke before the Fairfax County School Board in favor of tobacco free signage in school playgrounds. Such signs can now be found in local parks. She also has worked to foster greater understanding and appreciation of differences amid youth as well as advocated for support for programs that prevent discrimination against females. As the recipient of the Youth Advocate of the Year Ambassador Award, Sosa will serve as a youth ambassador for National PTA throughout 2015.
PTA Congressional Voice for Children Awards
Senator Patty Murray (WA)
Currently the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP), Senator Murray is a former PTA member and a longtime champion for the education, health, and overall well-being of our children. Last Congress, Senator Murray was the architect of the “Murray-Ryan Budget Agreement,” landmark bipartisan legislation that avoided a government shutdown and rolled back harmful cuts to education funding. A former preschool teacher, Senator Murray is one of the strongest advocates in the Senate of increasing access to high-quality early education for every child and was an original cosponsor of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act last year. She also supported several other PTA-endorsed bills including the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the IDEA Full Funding Act.
Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27)
A former teacher, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is a strong advocate for children and youth. Last Congress, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen continued her support of children and families by signing on as a cosponsor of the Family Engagement in Education Act and supporting reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act-No Child Left Behind. She also cosponsored the Safe Schools Improvement Act, legislation that would improve school safety by requiring public school districts to adopt policies prohibiting bullying and harassment. Rep. Ros. Lehtinen a member of several caucuses dedicated to furthering the wellbeing of our nation’s children including the Coalition on Autism Research and Education, Military Families Caucus, and the Congressional Children’s Caucus.