The Education Commissioner is a strong supporter of public education and works to maintain the integrity of our public education system. The Education Commissioner will also work to support, build, and enrich the educational process at all levels of PTA.
The Education Commission can encompass many different areas of focus and we want to help you zero in on the topics that are most useful to you. We will also try to keep current on events that might complement the activities of your school. Our Resource Guide and Parent Guides for core education standards may also help you to become the person at your school with answers regarding education.
If you would like to be on my email list for education news, particularly legislative education news, send me an email. The reports feature education resources between March and January and focus on education legislation during the legislative session, January to March.
During the 2014-2015 academic year, Utah PTA
Have You Heard?
Current short spots for events or programs related to education
Look for purple text for information for parents. PTA leaders can use this for newsletters or email to parents.
Look for red text for information for PTA leaders.
Blue text indicates an online link.
There is a sea of great information at the Parent Toolkit website! Check out the Parent Teacher Conference Guides. PTA leaders, link this information to your next PTA newsletter. A version of this site is available in Spanish too!
The mission of the Education Commission is to:
- Become knowledgeable about education issues in Utah.
- Promote the objects of PTA to help children in the home and school.
- Be a catalyst in strengthening the education of children through parental training.
The Education Commission provides an "umbrella" for many PTA projects and activities. The Chair of the Book Fair or the Dropout Prevention program, the organizer of the Read-Athon or the Geography Bee can be your local connection to the Education Commission at Utah PTA.
Click on one of the focus areas below to find resources that might be just right for your school!
- Advocacy is how every parent can stand up for their own children or support education opportunities for all students.
- Reading and Literacy programs can help the students at your school make greater progress toward reading proficiency.
- "STEM" Education consists of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.
- Social Studies and other academic subjects can include financial literacy, character education, arts education, etc.
- Promoting Post-high school and vocational aspirations can be even more effective when you start early. We are collecting ideas for your College and Career Readiness programs!
Find resources for these areas of focus by clicking on the boxes above!
More than 30 years of research shows that family involvement promotes student success. No matter what their family income or background may be, students with involved parents are more likely to:
- Earn higher grades and test scores
- Pass their classes
- Attend school regularly
- Have better social skills and adapt well to school
- Go on to postsecondary education
With this goal, PTA has created six standards that will guide school communities in forming Family-School Partnerships. They are:
Standard 1: Welcoming all families into the school community—Families are active participants in the life of the school, and feel welcomed, valued, and connected to each other, to school staff, and to what students are learning and doing in class.
Standard 2: Communicating effectively—Families and school staff engage in regular, two-way, meaningful communication about student learning.
Standard 3: Supporting student success—Families and school staff continuously collaborate to support students’ learning and healthy development both at home and at school, and have regular opportunities to strengthen their knowledge and skills to do so effectively.
Standard 4: Speaking up for every child—Families are empowered to be advocates for their own and other children, to ensure that students are treated fairly and have access to learning opportunities that will support their success.
Standard 5: Sharing power—Families and school staff are equal partners in decisions that affect children and families and together inform, influence, and create policies, practices, and programs.
Standard 6: Collaborating with community—Families and school staff collaborate with community members to connect students, families, and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services, and civic participation.
For more information about how to implement these standards in your school, please read Family-School Partnerships on the National PTA Website.
When you are planning activities for the month of February, think about this:
PTA Take Your Family to School Week is just one of the PTA programs revitalizing parent involvement in education. PTA has worked to bring families and schools together since its founding on February 17, 1897. Each local unit should host an event during that week, because research shows that when parents and families are involved, students achieve and have more success in school.
Get ideas for activities for your school by reading the summaries of what other schools have planned for this event.
You will find more information on the National PTA "Take Your Family to School Week" webpage.
Summer Reading to Keep Children Academically Ontrack --and Enjoying it!
There is clear evidence that the summer break from school results in academic back-sliding for many students. Make sure your child is maintaining his literacy level by encouraging summer reading. See the helps on the USOE website.
Elementary School PTA leaders!
Want a program that can help engage parents and community members to help your school? KSL Read Today can help this happen. Read Today is a high impact literacy program that pairs struggling readers with volunteer tutors. Their mission is to connect families, local businesses, organizations, and religious groups to their local school to make a difference in their community. The purpose of Read Today is to help students become proficient in reading. Read Today works directly with AmeriCorps in the schools. AmeriCorps administers the program, uses the STAR tutoring program to train volunteers, collect data, and ensure quality and consistency. KSL creates awareness, recruits tutors, provides incentives and celebrations with Chopper 5 landings and literacy events. Partners who share our goals include, United Way, the Utah State Office of Education, PTA, and Prosperity 2020. Anyone interested in learning more about the program can visit www.readtoday.com.
As a partner with Read Today, Prosperity 2020, and the Governor's PACE goal, Utah PTA encourages local units to help recruit the volunteers necessary to put the STAR tutoring program to work in your schools.
Make reading a daily activity that is fun for the whole family!
Look for a program that suits the needs of your students among the many that are available in our own communities.
Partner with the community to energize your events!
Here are a few links that might help you create a great literacy event at your school. Click on the blue name or phrase to link to these resources:
- Find a book that is just right for your child -- Lexile Reading Lists
- Parental Involvement Literacy Workshops - KBYU
- Student Tutoring Achievement for Reading (STAR)
- Read with a Child - Governor's Commission on Literacy
- Read Today - Deseret Management Corporation
- Ken Garff Road to Success - Academic year
- Read for the Record Jumpstart - October 4!
- Reading Marathon - KUED - Nov-Dec
- Be a Team Player: Read! - Utah Jazz: February-March
- KUED Annual Young Writers and Illustrators Contest - KUED - Feb-April
- Read Across America - March 1 (Dr. Seuss' Birthday)
- Drop Everything and Read - April 12 (Beverly Cleary's Birthday)
- Children's Book Week - May13-19, 2013
STEM is the acronym used to refer to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. A student's proficiency at STEM subjects gives the student confidence and greater problem solving skills. It is also a good predictor of post-high school success, employment security, and lifelong income.
Consider activities to support STEM subjects at your school.
Share with your students (all ages) at home and at school what the study of statistics is. These videos can help in a very entertaining way.
Organize an Engineering Fair at your school! An Engineering Fair gives 5th through 12th grade students an opportunity to use their math, science, technology, and group organization skills to creatively find solutions to real life problems. Guidelines for how to plan and prepare students for an Engineering Fair are available on this website.
- Early curiousity can give a student confidence in STEM subjects. Check out the science-related books for children here!
- I ran across a news piece that suggests a great way parents can jumpstart their children to enjoy and excell at mathematics. Add math puzzles to the bedtime ritual! Here is the link to the Bedtime Math website.
- Start a Math League to prepare secondary students to participate in national competitions. Find information about Academic Competitions, such as the AMC for mathematics, at the links below. If your school would like to participate for the first time, the registration fees are greatly discounted right now! The schedule of events may begin right away, such as:
2014 Fall Startup Event: Thursday, September 25th, 2014,
Or allow teams to train during the year preparing for competitive exams in November, December, or January, or, in the case of Middlementary Math Bonanza: Whenever you like in the given year!
Register for these contests at http://www.natassessment.com/
competitions, and http://www.mathcounts.org.
- Could your school use additional computers? Here is a way you can help provide them: The Federal Government requires that used, surplus equipment, that is useful for education, be made available to schools or non-profit educational entities. It is called the Computers For Learning program Ownership is transfered at no cost to the school but the school must pay for shipping and handling. Click here for details about how to apply to receive computers and other peripherals.
- Science Fairs
- Science Olympiad
- Has anyone tried Math League for elementary schools--perhaps in an After School program?
I welcome your contributions. Contact me with your suggestions. Also if you have tips for successful activities, I'd love to hear from you.
In Secondary Schools, we include the students in our PTA organizations, making them PTSA!
Together we can help them prepare for life after high school. Some of the resources that may be helpful to you in planning programs or activities -- or just having available information -- are below. Just click on the words that are highlighted in blue.
Find out what you can do to help your child prepare for life after graduation. Check out the new website at Step Up Utah! This site has information for parents and students, K-12, on how to prepare for college or other post-high school certificates. It's never too early to start thinking about it. Parent of elementary school students will find information and a kids fun page.
PTA leaders, talk to your school counselors or administrators to help plan events around college and career readiness. Step Up Utah has resources for you.
Utah Futures helps students prepare for their future careers with individualized plans. Check it out with your student!!
March 2 Success is a free tool to help middle and high school students prepare for success in college.
Utah Women and Education is focused on encouraging women to be prepared for, start, and finish a college degree.
Teach your kids to recognize false advertizing! March 2-8 is National Consumer Protection Week. It would be a good time to to teach kids to be smart consumers. Try out some fun online games that challenge kids to comparison shop to make wise purchases and to recognize false advertising.
The Consumer Action Handbook also offers information on a variety of consumer topics.
The Museum in the Classroom -- or Home
The National Gallery of Art’s Children’s Video Tour - Time Travel is an exceptional online resource that takes
students on a tour into famous paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt Van Rijn, Leonardo Da Vinci, Claude Monet and more. Each featured painting has a video that brings the painting to life by providing commentary about the artist, the model(s), and interesting details about each work of art. Students can explore “Saint George and the Dragon” by Raphael or learn details about Mary Cassatt’s career by clicking on her painting, “The Boating Party.” If you can’t take your students to the museum, this is a wonderful way to bring the museum to your students.
There are many reasons that children should learn to save and spend money wisely. Parents may be interested in resources that help them to teach financial literacy at home. PTA leaders may want to craft an activity at the school around this theme too.
Check out Money as You Grow, an online, interactive tool to give families a guideline for teaching kids 3 to 18 (and even beyond) important money lessons, like how to make good choices when spending, how to avoid debt, and why it's important to save for an emergency.
Civics Education has a champion in Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. The project she is promoting is called iCivics and can be found at this website. It features games that kids can play from the website and also has lesson plans that can be adapted for the classroom or an AfterSchool program. Click here for a blog report on Justice O'Connor's motivation and involvement.
Find resources as varied as our country at Kids.gov.
A series celebrating the 225th Anniversary of the United States' Constitution was developed by Lydia Nuttal in Morgan, Utah and is being used in the Morgan School District. It is found on the Morgan City website. It is called "Forgotten American Family Night Stories" and is easily adapted to family, PTA meeting, classroom, or after school program use. Ms Nuttall holds the copyright but has given permission for non-commercial use.
- For what other academic areas should we seek out resources?
- Do you have tips for more resources?
Contact Deon Turley, Education Commissioner
Did you know:
- Every time you attend the Parent-Teacher Conference for your child, you are advocating for education.
- Every time you attend meetings of your School Community Council or serve as a parent representative on your school's Council, you are advocating for education.
- Every time you contact your District School Board member about your concerns, you are advocating for education.
- Every time you follow education issues and email your state legislator, congressional representative, or US senator, you are advocating for education.
- And every time you teach other parents to do any of these things, you are advocating better education for every child!
The trick to effective advocacy is knowing who to go to for any given problem. I am posting information about issue that PTA is advocating below. The title indicates the level where your advocacy is appropriate. Some topics apply to more than one level.
The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) continue to draw voices of opposition. It looks like it will not be going away anytime soon. I have posted historical information about Utah's adoption of CCSS as part of its own education standards elsewhere on this website.
The Utah PTA general membership passed a resolution in support of Utah's education standards based on Common Core Standards in May of 2012 [see the resolution here]. The debate was lively and we heard from most, if not all, of those who ultimately voted in opposition. Their opposition was based on the effect of PTA taking a stand on such a controversial issue. The final vote was to pass the resolution by over 97%. It was a vote that put the children ahead of the organization.
One of the concerns of those opposed to the adoption of CCSS is that the federal government would some day require states to adopt them as National Curriculum standards or lose all federal education funds. The actions of the Supreme Court in regard to the Affordable Health Care Act in June 2012 informs us about the likelihood of this occuring.The Affordable Care Act mandated expansion of Medicare or losing all federal Medicare funding. This part of the law was struck down in the Supreme Court, stating that the Federal Government cannot change the rules regarding federal funds (which would apply to Title 1, Title 3, etc. as well) later in the game. This ruling is a triumph for states-rights advocates; it also takes away this argument from the anti-Common Core contingent. [more on the ACA ruling implications for education]
- Utah State Board of Education - http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/
- Utah State Office of Education - http://schools.utah.gov/main/
- Utah Futures - http://utahfutures.org
- Step Up Utah - http://www.stepuputah.com/
- Utah Charter Schools - http://www.schools.utah.gov/charterschools/
- School Trust Lands - http://www.schoollandtrust.org/
- Special Education Services - http://www.schools.utah.gov/sars/
- Schools for the Deaf and Blind - http://www.usdb.org/
- Title 1 Schools - http://www.schools.utah.gov/TitleI/
- Utah State Office of Assessment & Accountability - http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Default.aspx
- Utah Educational Savings Plan - http://www.uesp.org/
- Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority - http://www.higheredutah.org/
- U.S. Department of Education - http://www.ed.gov/index.jhtml
Parent's Guide to Student Success
The Parents’ Guide to Student Success (below in English and Spanish) was developed in response to the Common Core State Standards in English language arts and mathematics that more than 45 states have adopted. Created by teachers, parents, education experts, and others from across the country, the standards provide clear, consistent expectations for what students should be learning at each grade in order to be prepared for college and career. Although Utah's core standards are their own, they bear enough resemblance to the Common Core Standards that the parent guides can be very valuable to parents who want to help their children flourish academically with the new state education standards.
Myths and Facts on Utah Core (PDF below)
Utah State Board of Education Common Core and the Utah Education Transformation Plan (PowerPoint below)
As they’ve done the past couple of years, the Utah Education Associaton would like to extend an invitation for PTA members to attend the UEA Convention for free. The 2015 UEA Convention includes many activities for parents and students, in addition to what we traditionally provide for teachers. Through a partnership with KUED, a kids activity area includes hands-on education provided by Discovery Gateway, Thanksgiving Point, the Salt Lake County Libraries, Mad Science and others. It’s a great place for kids to learn and have fun.