Virginia PTA Advocacy Impact
Through our legislative advocacy program, we empower parents, students and educators to share how policy and funding decisions effect their children and school community. The positive impact of engaged parents is powerful and when we come together with one voice to share concerns and collaborate on solutions, we can drive positive change that extends beyond just our local school community.
For the past 100 years PTA has brought families of all backgrounds together with one shared goal, to support the academic success, health and safety of all students through family engagement and advocacy. As volunteers and elected leaders in our school communities, we observe first-hand the challenges that are faced by students and families. Our voice is needed more than ever. We invite you to join us to #TakeAction4Kids!
WHAT WE ACCOMPLISHED 2020-2023
✅ Literacy Act: Introduced a comprehensive statewide approach to literacy for grades K-8 that relies on scientifically-based reading research and uses evidence-based practices for instruction, intervention, and assessments. Approved legislation includes new parent resources and dedicated funding for reading specialists.
✅ Mental Health & Specialized Support Staff. Legislation approved now provides three specialized student support positions per 1,000 students. Specialized support positions include school nurses, school social workers, school psychologists and behavior analysts enabling students to have expanded access to essential mental health services.
✅ Full-time Principals: The daily dedicated leadership and safety oversight that a full-time principal provides is critical to safe learning conditions, instructional support and teacher retention. Focused advocacy by Virginia PTA brought this issue to the forefront to ensure that every school in Virginia, regardless of size, now has access to a full -time principal.
✅ Essential Support Staff: Support staff help provide personalized support for students and are essential in meeting the academic, social, and emotional learning needs of students in and out of the classroom. They help maintain school safety, keep school facilities functional, aid teachers, promote healthy learning environments and help address challenges that are particularly faced by students from low-income families. Virginia PTA has actively advocated for lifting the cap on support staff and in 2022 succeeded in partially lifting the support cap ($272M).
✅ Learning Loss Recovery: In 2021 Virginia PTA helped ensure school divisions retained critical funding to facilitate learning recovery and infrastructure improvements that facilitated a safe return to school.
✅ High Poverty School Divisions: Helped increase At Risk Add-On funding ($145M) which is supplemental funding provided for general use by school districts with high concentrations of students on free and reduced lunch.
✅ School Meals: Helped enact legislation that ensures eligible schools participate in the Community Eligibility Program, which allows qualifying schools and school divisions to offer breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge. We also and advocated for policies that alleviate meal debt and actively supported the pandemic waivers that provided free school meal waivers through summer 2022 including grab-and-go options and $8.2 million of state funding to help local school divisions eliminate the cost of school meals for students who are eligible for reduced-price meals based on federal income criteria.
✅ Early Childhood Education: Virginia PTA helped pass legislation that provided emergency funding to stabilize access to childcare, as well as implement a Early Childhood Education pilot with expanded access for three-year-olds served by the Virginia Preschool Initiative ($47M) as well as implementing new quality measures.
✅ School Safety: Virginia PTA has actively advocated for the passage of the federal Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and $6.5M of state funding for gun violence prevention programs through the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). During the 2023 session Virginia PTA advocated for increased funding and resources to improve school campus safety.
✅ Building Renovations: Historic funding for school building repair/renovation and construction ($1.25B) was gained and approved legislation supports the development of Standards for the maintenance and operations, renovation, and new construction of public elementary and secondary school buildings.
✅ Broadband: In 2021, the VAPTA advocated for budget amendments that secured a historic $100M for VATI; we also advocated for legislation that requires creation of a statewide broadband map detailing served and unserved areas and expands eligibility for VATI funds. This funding is helping extend broadband service to underserved communities, providing equity in internet access and educational opportunity for students and families throughout the Commonwealth.
Learn more about our current call to action and join us to continue to drive positive change for Virginia’s students.