Victoria Bhegani, GH Legislative Chair
At the Washington State PTA’s Legislative Assembly this past weekend, three new resolutions were passed: Improving Literacy and Educational Outcomes, Increasing Access and Affordability of Post-Secondary Education, and Improving Outcomes for Children and Youth in Highly Mobile Populations. There were also some very informative panels. Pediatricians answered the question: What do parents need to know about how the pandemic has affected kids? Policy experts spoke about advocacy for the coming legislative season and about how WA school districts are recovering from COVID. There was also a moving panel where WA high school students spoke about how they and their peers have coped with COVID. My key takeaway was that the pandemic hit education in our state like a hurricane and experts are just starting to be able to assess the damage. Educators, advocates, health professionals, students, and advocates have all worked incredibly hard this past year and a half for us to be where we are right now vis-à-vis public education, even if where we are is still a tough place. The other takeaways I had fell into two categories.
- The WA legislative session, which this year runs from January 10, 2022- March 10, 2022, is likely to use a hybrid model. Nothing is finalized yet, but the WS PTSA will keep us apprised.
- Advocacy Week will be in mid-January and Focus Day on January 17. We do not know yet it they will be virtual, in-person, or a mix of both.
- Our state is forecasting a budget surplus, so public schools getting more funding for issues like mental health supports is more promising this session. Last session WA had a budget deficit.
- On November 3, please join me in this special advocacy opportunity. Senate Education Chair Lisa Wellman is speaking on how the education system will change towards mastery-based learning and welcomes families to weigh in on what priorities they have for education. To register, you must be a PTA member. Let me know if you plan to go! firstname.lastname@example.org
- On average, during the pandemic, American children’s screen time doubled and their time to play outside went from 90 minutes to 25 minutes a day.
- One book recommended by the panel of pediatricians was The Secure Child: Helping Our Children Feel Safe and Confident in a Changing World by Stanley Greenspan.
- If parents have questions about health-related issues, including vaccines, they can check out Healthy Children (sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics).
- The University of California San Francisco has a comprehensive guide to help families assess whether health information is credible and accurate.
If you’d like to get involved with advocacy work this year, please email me at email@example.com. Thank you!