What is Advocacy?

Advocacy is simply expressing your interest in a specific cause and taking action to support that cause.

 

 

What is Bell PTSA advocating for?

 

An accessible and inclusive playground

 

Did you know Bell Elementary’s playground is not ADA compliant? We recently had a Bell student who was unable to play with her friends on the playground because she could not access it with her wheelchair. When we see injustices like this, we must act!

 

This is where we come in. The PTSA advocates for children. This is our core purpose.

 

We started working on this issue in 2019. Since then, we have done advocacy work with the school principal, the LWSD School Board, the superintendent of LWSD, and the executive director of support services for LWSD. The effort has paid off! We are thrilled to announce that Lake Washington School District has committed to updating Bell’s playground. The updates will include the following:

  1. Accessibility – The district will make our playground ADA Compliant.

  2. Playground surfacing – The district will be piloting rubber play tiles at Bell. (The current LWSD standard is wood play chips – you should try rolling a wheelchair in wood chips!) The play tiles will be under the play structures.

  3. Playtoy structure will be updated – The wooden play structure has become outdated and will be replaced.

Early estimates indicate that this project will cost approximately $400K. In addition to the district's investment, the PTSA will be investing $10K toward the project to fund a digging/sensory garden. The project is scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2022.

 

Functioning laptops for all students

 

During remote learning, we advocated for all Bell students to be issued functioning laptops. Bell PTSA spoke at a LWSD School Board meeting and reached out to the district about the sub-par laptops provided to many Bell students (many were 5+ years old). The school board and district listened to our concerns and provided new computers to Bell students in January of 2021 (students with the oldest HP models and slowest processing times were provided new devices).  

 

 

Working with our legislators to make policy and legislative changes

 

In addition to the advocacy work we are doing at the school and at the district level, we are also working with our legislators to make policy and legislative changes that will support WSPTA's top five legislative priorities. WSPTA's top five legislative priorities are as follows:

  1. Increase Access to Nursing, Mental Health, and Social Emotional Learning Staff
  2. Support Students and Preserve Education Funding
  3. Increasing Educational Equity by Closing the Digital Divide
  4. Supports and Funding for Students with Disabilities and Their Families
  5. Prevent and Reduce Gun Violence and Suicide
WSPTA's Legislative Consultant, Marie Sullivan, provides several ways for members to understand what happened during the 2021 legislative session:
  • 2021 Legislative Scorecard is an overview of the session using the 2021-22 legislative platform and resolutions. Green, yellow and red highlights provide a quick glimpse of the successes, and all bills have hyperlinks for more information.
  • 2021 End of Session Summary is a deeper dive into budget investments, including federal funding; bills the Advocacy Committee was tracking that passed and didn’t pass; new workgroups, reports, and model policies; and budget provisos.
  • A list of requirements, by school year, that are law and must be implemented starting in the 2021-22 school year and future school years. This could be a handy tool to use with PTAs and Councils when considering areas to focus on with local school boards and school administrators.

 

How to Get Involved:

 

  • Washington State's 2021 Legislative Session began on January 11, 2021 and adjourned on April 25, 2021. During a typical year, we would head to Olympia and meet with our legislators face-to-face. During the 2021 session, all the work was done virtually.

    Even though the legislative session has ended for the year, we encourage our community members to reach out to their legislators anytime about concerns, or to thank them for the great work they're doing. It really is as simple as contacting your legislators and sharing your story. What are you concerned about and why? What do you want to ask your legislators to do? What work are they doing that you're thankful for? During the legislative session, we provided updates every week in our weekly newsletter, the Bulldog Blast - you can access the newsletters here.
  • Attend WSPTA Legislative Assembly – learn about the issues, how you can take action and network with other PTA leaders (typically in October - 2021 dates to be posted)

  • Subscribe to WSPTA’s Action Network Group - During the Washington State Legislative Sessions, WSPTA will send action alerts and informational broadcasts to WSPTA members who have subscribed to WSPTA's Action Network Group. These action alerts are quick, easy ways to communicate with our legislators on topics they are actively working on.

  • Be an informed citizen - read the newspaper; read all communications from the district, school, and PTSA; attend School Board Meetings; attend Town Halls; attend PTSA meetings; attend City Council Meetings; sign up for your legislator's newsletters, etc. 

  • If you see an injustice or are passionate about an issue, speak up. Democracy works best when citizens are informed and engaged in their communities and in the legislative process.

  • Reach out to Bell's legislative chair at advocacy@agbellptsa.org or Bell's PTSA president at president@agbellptsa.org with any questions or suggestions.