The Pioneers of
Child Advocacy
in Colorado

As Colorado’s original and largest parent engagement group, Colorado PTA represents a lot of voices—and legislators recognize this fact when Colorado PTA takes a stand on an issue. When it comes to making positive change in Colorado’s schools and families, Colorado PTA is a formidable force with more than a century-old track record in being an influential partner in state and local governments.

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What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is the active support of an idea or a cause. In order to operate effectively and advance its mission, a nonprofit should advocate on behalf of the people it serves, its organization, and the common interests of the nonprofit sector.

Every year, Colorado PTA plays an active role in advocating for our children statewide. To allow every child to reach his/her potential, Colorado PTA has set goals to realize a fully-funded, quality education system for all children; updated school nutritional standards; school and internet safety; quality and affordable after-school programs; better access to and preparation for college; small class sizes and more. Contact our Public Policy Director or your local PTA Advocacy Liaison for more information!

Purpose and Mission

The purpose and mission of PTA is child advocacy. An essential member of your unit’s Board of Directors is the Advocacy Liaison. The role of your Advocacy Liaison is to communicate and connect the business of Colorado PTA to the local unit (your PTA) and notify your members of opportunities to become engaged and involved in advocacy efforts. Please ensure that your Advocacy Liaison presents this information to your membership at your PTA meetings and/or via email, to enable every member of PTA to be educated and involved in this effort.

What does a PTA Local Unit Advocacy Liaison do?

When the Council, Region, or state PTA shares information with you regarding legislative and advocacy issues, make sure it gets distributed through your unit’s usual communication method (i.e., newsletter, email, or website) and share this information at your PTA’s regular business meeting – much like the report given by your membership chair or treasurer.

A good way to do this is by working with your School Accountability Committee (SAC), either by serving as the PTA liaison to the SAC or by sharing information with the person who is. The SAC’s work is largely focused on the school’s and district’s achievement data, the Unified Improvement Plan (UIP), and the school’s and district’s budget.

Because so much of PTA’s work is centered around them, make a note to pay extra attention to Standard 4 (Speaking Up for Every Child) and Standard 5 (Sharing Power) – National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

We understand everyone’s time and interests vary. Advocacy doesn’t stop with the Basics. If you have the time and interest, here are other ways to advocate and become more involved.

  • Take an active interest in key issues affecting children and youth.
  • Be an informed voter.
  • Attend school board meetings and/or be aware of district policies.
  • Attend meetings of the District Accountability Committee.
  • Attend the Colorado PTA Legislative Conference.
  • Know who your legislators are at the state and national levels and who represents you at the city and county levels.
  • Know how elected officials representing you vote on key issues, and visit with some of them.
  • Attend some candidate forums, issue forums, and/or public meetings sponsored by your elected officials.
  • Get on email distribution lists for legislative action alerts, and/or join organizations that advocate on children’s issues.
  • Join the National PTA’s “PTA Takes Action”.
  • Respond to PTA Action Alerts.
  • Speak up at public meetings on PTA’s issues and positions.

National Standards for Family-School Partnerships

When developed in 1997, the standards were called the National Standards for Parent/Family Involvement Programs. With a shift in focus from what schools should do to involve parents to what parents, schools, and communities can do together to support student success, the updated standards were renamed the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships.

In 2021, National PTA’s Center for Family Engagement—alongside a cadre of family and community leaders—began the process of updating the National Standards for Family-School Partnerships to reflect changes in education, science, and lessons learned during the pandemic. The new standards reflect:
  • A broadened vision of student success that recognizes the important ways that families and schools collaborate around student achievement and wellbeing
  • More intentional emphasis on equity and inclusion, including guidance to help schools and PTAs partner with our increasingly diverse families
  • Clearer guidance by role that more explicitly articulates how schools and PTAs foster strong family-school partnerships
  • Find out more about the standards here.

    Standard 1

    Welcoming All Families into the School Community

    The school treats families as valued partners in their child’s education and facilitates a sense of belonging in the school community.
    • Goal 1- Build a Community of Belonging: When families engage with the school and PTA, do they feel respected, understood and connected to the school community?
    • Goal 2- Create an Inclusive Environment: Do the school’s and PTA’s efforts encourage engagement with and among the diversity of families in the community?
    Standard 2

    Communicating Effectively

    The school supports staff to engage in proactive, timely, and two-way communication so that all families can easily understand and contribute to their child’s educational experience.
    • Goal 1- Exchange Information Between School and Families: Are families able to receive and share information in culturally and linguistically sustaining ways?
    • Goal 2- Facilitate Parent-Teacher Communication: Does the school and PTA promote communication between families and teachers?
    Standard 3

    Supporting Student Success

    The school builds the capacity of families and educators to continuously collaborate to support students’ academic, social and emotional learning.
    • Goal 1- Team- Up For Student Success: Are families, students and educators on the same page about how students are progressing?
    • Goal 2- Support Learning by Engaging Families: Are families valued partners in their children’s learning at home and at school?
Standard 4

Speaking Up for Every Child

The school affirms family and student expertise and advocacy so that all students are treated fairly and have access to relationships and opportunities that will support their success.
  • Goal 1- Navigate the School System: Are families knowledgeable and able to raise questions or concerns about their child’s educational experience?
  • Goal 2- Address inequitable outcomes and access. Does the school and PTA remove barriers for families to be advocates for and with students’—particularly those who are most marginalized?
Standard 5

Sharing Power

The school partners with families in decisions that affect children and families and together—and as a team, inform, influence and create policies, practices and programs.
  • Goal 1- Strengthen the Family’s Voice in Shared Decision Making: Are families partners in making decisions that affect their children at school and in the community?
  • Goal 2- Build Families’ Connections: Do families have a strong, broad-based organization that offers regular opportunities to develop relationships and raise concerns with school leaders, public officials, and business and community leaders?
Standard 6

Collaborating With Community

The school collaborates with community organizations and members to connect students, families and staff to expanded learning opportunities, community services and civic participation.
  • Goal 1- Build a Strong Foundation for Community Partnerships: Does the school and PTA have a plan for when and how to engage community partners?
  • Goal 2- Connect the School with Community Partners: Do family and school leaders work closely with community organizations, businesses, and institutions of higher education?

Colorado PTA’s Century of Advocacy Highlights:

  • Establishing a Better Babies Movement, focused on promoting infant care (1914)
  • Initiating an Act to create and establish a Child Welfare Bureau in the State of Colorado (1919)
  • Supporting public education in rural communities in Colorado (1922)
  • Fighting for an increase in public school funding (1937)
  • Promoting inclusiveness by establishing the first Spanish-speaking PTA in Colorado (1937)
  • Establishing a Girls Loan Fund for advanced education (1946)
  • Recruiting over 126,000 members (1953)
  • Promoting first Project Head Start program (1967)
  • Establishing the Reflections Art program, which was adopted by national PTA (1969)
  • Spreading awareness about the link between good nutrition and learning (1970)
  • Advocating for seat-belt safety (1982)
  • Serving as an ambassador for drug/alcohol awareness initiatives (1988)
  • Opposing school vouchers as a violation of Colorado’s Constitution which resulted in the victorious 2003 lawsuit, Colorado PTA v. Owens (1993)
  • Declaring an anti-discrimination clause including LGBT community (1994)
  • Fighting for releasing volunteer crossing guards from civil liability (1996)
  • Championing Amendment 23, which requires an annual increase in K-12 funding (inc. special education and transportation) by inflation +1 percent through 2010 and inflation thereafter (2000)