Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PTA All Committees Weekend

We in PTA still have a way to go in bringing on board those millions of parents whose children are in public schools and who depend on public education to realize the American dream. NeverthelessPTA is the organization, and the PTA members are the people, who have the history and the power for the dream of this democracy to become a reality for all of our children

I'll be in Chicago this weekend for the Membership Committee meeting, officially my first with this group. I've been on the Diversity and Finance committees. I was originally appointed to the National PTA board and now I am an elected member. This is no small thing because, (A) I do not come from the PTA ranks, (B) I'm not PTA polite: in fact diplomacy and politeness are not my strong suites, and (C) In my 40 years of education activism and 30+ in advocating for parent leadership in public education from the poor/minority/non-English-speaking/recent-immigrant communities I had not seen PTA as a natural ally.

and now let me drop in my campaign blurg...

Rooted in Advocacy Reared in Laredo, TX and growing up fluent in Spanish and English, Aurelio began his career as a public high school English teacher in San Felipe High School in Del Rio, Texas in 1964 and has been an activist for equitable schools since then. He continues to advocate for excellent and equitable public schools for all children, specially those that are economically disadvantaged, are of color or speak a language other than English. (For friends who are challenged in pronouncing his first name, one English speaker offered the following: Oh? Really? Oh!)
Professionally Skilled Aurelio is a senior education associate and master trainer with the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA). IDRA is in its 35th year of advocacy for schools that work for all children. He is the lead developer of the organization’s Family Leadership in Education Model. His four-decade professional career has been a mission driven journey in education as teacher, community organizer, curriculum developer, master trainer, and for the last 30 years at IDRA, as an advocate for parent leadership in education. He developed a fully bilingual training-of-trainers model, WOW Workshop on Workshops for educators and parents. Over 200 emerging parent leaders, many who are English-language learners, have participated in that course alone.
Proven Leadership In over 8 years of directing a statewide federally funded Parent Information and Resource Center, Aurelio has led hundreds of workshops, written many articles, participated in conferences and colloquiums and disseminated thousands of pieces of information on Parent Leadership in Education. In 2007 he wrote monthly articles related to parent involvement and No Child Left Behind. Under his leadership, the Texas IDRA PIRC was honored last year as one of five in the nation whose practices and processes were considered exemplary in a Department of Education publication Engaging Parents in Education: Lessons From Five Parental Information and Resource Centers.
Board Experience In the summer of 2006 he was named to the National PTA board as a member-at-large and served on the Diversity Committee. This year he is part of the Finance Committee. He is a member of the Horace Mann M.S. PTA in San Antonio. He is also on the national board for Parents for Public Schools (PPS).
Persistence His strongest recommendation is persistence (40+ years) in advocacy for excellent public schools for all children, and in that battle, supporting parents as the central and strongest advocates for all children to get an excellent and equitable education. Beyond all the training, writing and program development and evaluation he has done, his most cherished skill is the loud and persistent voice for families and children; especially those who most need the benefits and blessings of an accessible, high quality and equitable public education. Graduation for All!
PTA Challenge We in PTA still have a way to go in bringing on board those millions of parents whose children are in public schools and who depend on public education to realize the American dream. Many of the families and schools Aurelio works with in Texas don’t see PTA as a necessary and critical part of their children achieving that dream.
PTA Answer Yet, he believes that PTA is the organization, and the PTA members are the people, who have the history and the power for the dream of this democracy to become a reality for all of our children.

I didn't put my campaign brochure in here to brag. In fact, it was very difficult to run for office because I don't like having to sell myself in that way. The last time I ran for office was in 1959 -- student council parliamentarian -- and I won! I swore never again.
I was encouraged by colleagues, co-workers and friends to run so that the advocacy issues that are important to us would continue to have a national arena and platform.

In my 2-minute speech, and at the convention much hinges on the speech if you are not known to the troops, I chose not to speak much about my qualifications, but rather about the issues I consider important. My emotions got the better of me when I spoke. See my speech notes below:

Buenas Tardes.
I’ve been a teacher since 1964…and have had to reeducate myself constantly.
In the late 60s I realized how my formal education had not taught me to value my community.

20 years later parents reeducated me about communication from school: I asked, “Has school contacted you this year?” one lady responded, “Este año no me han llamado, gracias a dios” They haven’t called me this year, thank God.

Children, their parents and schools! This is the bedrock of PTA’s amazing history.
Over a year ago, I was privileged to walk through the early history of PTA with former national president Lois Jean White. PTA’s courage and valor is needed now!
We need the heft to uplift and defend our Title 1 schools, not-meeting- AYP !

…To provide excellent schools to families hanging on by a thin economic thread.
These families might never be PTA polite nor learn Robert’s rules of order,
yet they’ll continue to tell their children
“educate para que no sufras lo que sufri yo”
get an education so that you don’t suffer what I have gone through.

PTA must persist in creating a public will for equitable funding for all public schools.

PTA must keep schools accountable without penalizing the students and burning out our best teachers…

PTA is the organization, and we are the people who have the history and the power for this American dream to be the reality for all of our children.

Just as the teachers in Appalachia acknowledged the culture of poor white families and created Foxfire…

And as Cesar Chavez & Dolores Huerta encouraged farmworkers and created a union …

As Bob Moses believes that all children can learn math and created the Algebra Project

as Alice McClellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst…as Selena Sloan Butler advocated for children and families

So we must welcome and become relevant
to the millions of potential PTA members in our communities…
who in their hearts dream “todo nino, una voz” every child one voice…

Let their dreams lead our actions.

I was elected along with my other colleagues on the proposed slate.
Now I've got to really work hard to make sure that the membership of the public school families that are from the poor/minority/non-English-speaking/recent-immigrant communities increases 100fold.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.
We will be moved.
The torch will be passed on.

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