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National PTA Honors Parents, Youth for Advocacy

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The National PTA announced the recipients of its 2013 Outstanding Advocacy Awards on January 30.

The awards honor state and local PTAs, as well as individuals, for their dedication, leadership and sustained efforts to positively affect policies, regulations, and legislation related to children, the PTA says. For the first time this year, a student will be honored with a youth advocate award, too.

The Florida PTA will receive the PTA Outstanding State Advocacy Award for its comprehensive advocacy campaign related to Florida's Parent Empowerment Bill, which was defeated last year. The proposed legislation was a "parent trigger" bill that the Florida PTA and other organizations opposed on the grounds that it would allow for-profit companies that manage charters to take over public schools.

According to the National PTA, the Sunshine State's PTA succeeded in advancing its position by educating as many of its members about the bill as possible with regular legislative updates to County Councils and local units, and grassroots activation, which encouraged members to send action alerts, launch e-mail campaigns and participate in phone-a-thons.

Beyond that, Florida PTA "actively engaged the media and created forward-thinking advocacy tools, including a legislative blog and legislative plan of work that is open to anyone through calling a conference call line," the National PTA's statement explained.

On the local level, National PTA is recognizing the 15th District PTA in Kentucky with the PTA Outstanding Local Advocacy Award for its efforts to educate parents on the Common Core State Standards in that state. More than 11,000 parents received training and resources from the 15th District PTA about how the standards will impact their children.

"In an effort to reach as many parents as possible, the 15th District PTA worked with community partners to ensure that families from various ethnic backgrounds received the information in their native language and used social media effectively to reach additional families and community members," according to the National PTA.

As an individual award recipient, Justin Raber from West Virginia is being honored for his commitment to West Virginia's state and federal advocacy efforts. He will receive the Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award.

Megan Gardner, a member of South Valley Junior High PTSA in Liberty, Mo., is being honored as Youth Advocate of the Year for her efforts on distracted driving. She worked to draft a resolution on the issue, and spoke at both the Missouri State PTA and National PTA conventions, to urge delegates to support the resultions—which they did.

All recipients will be recognized during the National PTA Legislative Conference March 12-14 in Washington, where hundreds of parent leaders from across the country gather for an in-depth look at the latest National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda, hone their advocacy skills and visit with congressional leaders to advocate on behalf our nation's children.

National PTA's public policy agenda features four key areas: education; child health and nutrition; juvenile justice and delinquency prevention; and school safety.

The 2013 National PTA Federal Public Policy Agenda can be viewed at PTA.org.

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