SOURCE: National PTA

February 28, 2008 16:01 ET

U.S. Senator, Congressman Honored With Inaugural PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award

Outstanding Advocacy Awards Presented to Utah PTA, San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - February 28, 2008) - Today, PTA honored two of our country's leaders, great child advocates, and champions of education. PTA presented its first-ever PTA Congressional Voice for Children Award to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and U.S. Congressman James E. Clyburn (D-SC).

The presentation took place this afternoon at Capitol Hill at a special awards luncheon filled with hundreds of PTA state presidents and legislative leaders during PTA's National Legislative Conference in Washington, DC.

Senator Murkowski was honored for her dedication to a number of efforts that benefit children and education. As a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Murkowski acted as the sponsor of the Child Nutrition Promotion and School Lunch Protection Act, helped pass the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, and is currently working on reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

"As a mother, former PTA President and Senator I am honored to receive this award and remain committed to ensuring that schools across the nation are strong, healthy places for our children to learn and grow," said Senator Murkowski. "I have been fighting for updated nutritional standards in schools because it is imperative that we teach our children healthy eating habits while they are young. I will also continue to work toward increased parent involvement in the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act, because as parents, nobody knows our kids better than us and nobody has a greater ability to ensure their success than us."

"By fighting to make higher education more accessible and confronting threats to our kids' health and nutrition, she has proven to be a truly powerful voice for children," said Jan Harp Domene, PTA national president. "Incidentally, we're proud to note that before she became the first Alaskan born senator to serve the state, Senator Murkowski got her start in public service as PTA president at her son's school."

Congressman Clyburn was honored for his decades of dedication toward advancing education and civil rights which extend back to his youth. Elected president of his NAACP youth chapter at the age of 12, Clyburn was recently elected by his House colleagues as House Majority Whip, where he was instrumental in expanding and improving the Head Start early childhood program. And, as chair of the Democratic Caucus Taskforce on Hurricane Katrina, he worked actively with his colleagues to pass the College Cost Reduction Act. He also drafted and ushered through Congress a bill allocating millions of dollars for rebuilding schools and recruiting teachers in Gulf Coast communities.

"Since 1993, Congressman Clyburn has represented South Carolina with distinction. For his 16 years in the U.S. House of Representatives as an energetic crusader for America's children we are proud to honor him for being a powerful voice for America's children," said Domene.

During the ceremony, PTA also recognized the Utah PTA and the San Ramona Valley Council PTA for their advocacy at the state and local level.

The Utah PTA was honored with another new award, the 2008 Outstanding Advocacy Award, for their successful defeat of the Education Vouchers Referendum. After successfully keeping vouchers and tuition credits off the House floor in Utah for seven straight congressional sessions, a voucher ballot measure slipped through with one vote last year. By working with citizen, education, and civil rights groups, Utah PTA helped assemble a massive team of trained volunteers, who utilize blogs, phone banks, walking trees, editorial letters, and commercials to explain to the Utah electorate how damaging vouchers could be. Exactly 62% of Utah voters agreed, and a terrible precedent for the nation was averted.

Comparatively, it was the breadth and persistence of work from the San Ramon Valley Council of PTAs that won them the 2008 Outstanding Advocacy Award for local units. Every year, San Ramon Valley Council coordinates a trip to Sacramento with three other councils, as well as organizing advocacy trainings at all 31 local PTA units and arranging for local legislative visits several times a year. More than 15,000 letters have been sent through their campaigns, and they successfully lobbied for an extra $2.3 million in funding for their district -- and an additional $350 million for the rest of California's schools. In 2007, the Council held a candidates' forum for the school board election and presented a workshop on special needs committees at the California State Convention.

"The San Ramona Valley Council of PTAs served as an excellent model for how local and state advocacy can effectively be combined to serve PTA's mission," said Domene.

About PTA

PTA comprises nearly 6 million parents and other concerned adults devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that prides itself on being a powerful voice for children, a relevant resource for parents, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who is concerned with the education, health, and welfare of children and youth.

To view this release online, go to: http://www.pwrnewmedia.com/2008/pta022808/index.html

Contact Information

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    James Martinez
    On-site: 773-339-4533