Mrs. Taylor Returns

06.07.2010 | HMMH |

by Laura Taylor*

What an amazing experience Mom Congress turned out to be.  With a packed agenda, the time at Georgetown was indeed hectic.

The event started with an evening reception in the University’s beautiful library.  I met some of the most amazing women ever assembled in one place.  We all had two things in common; we are all Moms and we have all worked to affect a change in education.  I met Moms who are publishers, legislative aids, State PTA Presidents and elected officials.  I was struck by the work being done across our country to help students with special needs and learning disabilities.  I was encouraged by Moms from inner city districts who have fought just to make a safe route for local kids to walk to school.  I was impressed by the diversity in age, social status, race and political savvy.  Most of all, I found 50 Moms who, together as the Mom Congress, represent one of the most powerful grassroots networks I have ever been involved with.

Part of the Mom Congress experience included a town hall meeting with the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.  The event was enlightening but too short for the many people who attended from the surrounding communities of Washington, DC and Maryland who had hoped to learn what the Federal Budget plans for education would hold for their schools and programs.  The Secretary did indicate that he had recommended an increase in the proposed Federal Education Budget from 1% to 2% of the budget to fund parent engagement programs.  These funds will be limited to Title 1 schools and will only be disbursed for evidenced-based grant funded programs.  It was interesting to hear this commitment after his statement that we know, through research, how influential parental involvement is to student success, but that we have absolutely no research that tells us how to get parents involved.  Parents and education organizations will have a lot of work ahead of them if they hope to obtain a piece of that 2% pie.

One particular highlight of the Mom Congress was the keynote address by National PTA CEO, Byron V. Garrett.  Prior to this event, I had only heard of Garrett and was impressed by what I had heard.  After meeting him, I am even more impressed.  Garrett is the author of “The ABCs of Life” which he so eloquently recited during his address.  It is an alphabet that is worth reading… and repeating.

As for my marching orders; I am more committed than ever to helping students stay engaged and encouraged at school and to remaining an advocate for effective education in California.

*Laura is Administrative Assistant to HMMH’s Sacramento Office.  HMMH congratulates Laura on her ongoing participation in Mom Congress!