Hello to Local Unit Leaders,
We know everyone is busy gearing up for the start of the school year. So we want to make sure you have the most up-to-date info and continue growing our 2-way communications to help your efforts be the best that they can be in the coming year, and continue to engage our families in a meaningful way.
*2015-16 Updated Officer Information: If you have not already done so, please submit your updated officer’s contact information using the Local Unit Member Upload Template. We have been sending out a lot of updates and important information for local units. Make sure you aren’t missing out on anything!
* Leadership Training — Hopefully everyone has received the email communications sent during the last several weeks regarding the multiple Leadership Training events scheduled. If you didn’t, it probably means we have not received your 2015-2016 officers listing prior to August 7th. The Leadership Training Schedule is available on our website. DPTA is revamping their overall content with LOTS more info to help your unit be successful. Please make sure your team is well represented. It is important that our PTA units attend trainings to strengthen overall team knowledge.
* Membership Drives — Please let your Region VP or a member of the State Board know if your unit needs any resources and/or ideas on how to attract and grow your membership. Engaging families and helping them to understand the ongoing dynamics of public education and the services being offered to help their students be successful is very important this time of the year. Families should see your PTA efforts as a way of helping them and the school (not just a fundraising effort.) We have Mission & Value slides you can use as well as examples of different membership forms, newsletters, topics of interest & programs to support/engage your families. We are here to help and there are tons of resources.
* End of the Year Finances — DPTA needs to receive a copy of your Year End checklist along with confirmation that your unit has successfully filed with the IRS. We need this information to help the long-term success of your unit. We’ve received news from a few units that they recently learned that past reports were not filed and are now playing catch-up. It is the responsibility of all PTA unit Board members to know the financial health along with the IRS filings at the local level. Plus, make sure your insurance is up-to-date this time of the year and when it is due annually. Many should be renewing their insurance in the coming months. Protect your Board & members by making sure your insurance is in place.
Board of Managers Meeting – Please mark your calendars for September 22, 2015. The local unit President of each unit should be in attendance at this very important meeting. For more information about Board of Managers and to RSVP visit our website.
Save The Date: The Annual State Convention is Saturday November 21, 2015 at the Del-Tech Terry Campus in Dover. Stay Tuned for more information.
* Announced on Friday, DE Sec of Ed is resigning: On Friday, the News Journal announced breaking news that Mark Murphy is stepping down as Delaware Secretary of Education and will be replaced by Steven Godowsky, the former New Castle County Vo-Tech superintendent. Mr. Godowsky will take over on an interim basis, and the Senate will convene a special session on Oct. 28 to vote whether to confirm him. In a statement Friday afternoon, Mr. Godowsky said he will not do interviews with the news media until he takes office, but added that he looks forward “to building on all of the great things happening in our schools.” Check out the News Journal online for the full article including comments from various state groups, including Delaware PTA President Dr. Terri Hodges, Superintendent Dr. Mark Holodick and the state Teacher’s Union.
* Legislative Bills impacting Education: PTA across the country is known for its ADVOCACY on many different educational and community issues through the year. In today’s public education landscape, PTA continues to monitor and educate its many families as to topics and issues that continue to impact the classroom and school environment. Here are just a few within our state from recent weeks that we want our families to be informed as to ongoing impacts:
On August 14th, Governor Markell signed the Student Data Privacy Protection Act – designed to make sure private information collected in schools stays that way. The law directs the DE Dept of Education to write more detailed rules for how student data is kept, who has access to it, and how that information can be used.
- It tasks the dept with creating detailed procedures for investigating and reporting potential breaches of privacy, including a way for parents to file a complaint.
- Parents will also be able to request their student’s information and fix any incorrect or out-of-date information.
Think of the wealth of information a school keeps about students including health records, grades, family income level, test scores, housing information, phone numbers and Social Security numbers. (If hackers can breach Sony & the gov’t, how vulnerable are our students’ records – school districts and their personnel continue to lag the sophistication and technology expertise of the global market place!)
On August 4th, Governor Markell signed TWO bills related to the recommendations from the Wilmington Education Advisory Committee (WEAC):
- One new law grants the State Board of Education the authority to re-draw district lines, removing the Christina and Colonial school districts from the city and giving their schools and students to the Red Clay School District. (Brandywine School District also covers city neighborhoods.)
- The second law created the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission, a group of school, city and community leaders that will work out a plan for how to make the transition smoothly.
The change won’t take place immediately, and the General Assembly must sign off on any redistricting plan before it happens.
Wilmington residents have long complained that the current system that splits the city into four districts, a legacy of desegregation and forced busing, makes it difficult for the community to engage in schools, removes students from their neighborhoods and muddles decisions about how to improve education.
PTA continues to ask for more COMMUNICATION & TRANSPARENCY.
* State Assessment Inventory: The educational landscape around testing continues to evolve and the conversations are ever more complex. As part of the “market intel” to figure out what is happen on multiple levels within our state, the DE Dept of Education has been assigned to create an inventory of tests given in schools throughout Delaware, hoping to eliminate tests that might be redundant. There are more tests being given to our students than many parents may realize, and possibly even the DOE, as every district seems to have made different decisions. One of the key items as parents we are hoping to learn and see is TRANSPARENCY and thus actual test results of how our own child has done and how they are progressing. Please share if you are hearing anything from your buildings and/or district leadership.
- Please note: The latest news from the Delaware PTA channels is that any data and/or parent reports on the results from last spring’s Smarter Balanced Testing will not be forthcoming until October 2015 at the earliest. Based on a summer discussion with Delaware Dept of Education representatives, they could not even provided basic information on content of any such report nor a mock-up of any kind. Data to the school buildings seems to also be delayed based on the additional time required for grading these more extensive tests, along with limited human capital/resources assigned to the grading state/nation-wide. More to come as we hear info….
So what do parents do to figure out where their own student is on their academic progress? PTA suggests using the National PTA’sParent Guides to Student Success. These guides by grade level are nationally recognized as great family-friendly tools! Go toww.pta.org and look under the “For Families” tab.
Hope this helps to keep you informed and please share with your membership as well.
As always, if you ever have any questions or need additional assistance, please reach out to your Region VP or contact the state board at firstname.lastname@example.org