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Washington State PTA – Focus Day

Kathryn Thompson

“That’s right! It’s true! Education needs revenue!”

This is what I heard my 6-year-old chanting as he brushed his teeth for bed tonight. Although it would have been funnier to hear one of the more saucy, constitutionally-based, vocabularically rich chants from the rally today, ala “AMPLE PROVISION – PARAMOUNT DUTY”, this one still made me laugh just a little.

Today was Focus Day for Washington State PTA, consisting of a legislative meeting, a march to the capitol, patriotic face painting and a rally on the steps of the capitol building.

I can’t think of a better way to teach my kids in a tangible way what it means to be part of a democracy. Before we went, we talked about what we want from our government for schools and Laylee made several drafts of signs, eventually landing on a multicolored statement that read, “SCHOOL ROCKS!” which she then left in the van because she didn’t want it to get rained on.

At the event, we made new signs, signs we didn’t mind getting soggy, Laylee wrote a letter to our legislators and we marched about a mile down the center of the road in Olympia with a police escort clearing traffic for us. We were surrounded by hundreds of other PTA voters who cared enough about education to march in the rain.

Then, on the steps of the capitol building, we chanted and shook noisemakers, and Wanda went insane, screaming and running up and down the capitol steps grinning. She fit in perfectly. PTA leaders, Members of Congress and a State Senator spoke to us, giving us an update on their efforts for education and a recent supreme court ruling, declaring that Washington State’s underfunding of education is unconstitutional and that one way or another, we now need to find the money to support a basic education for all students.

I was pleased that Andy Hill, our 45th district senator, came out in the rain to meet with us. He was the only member of the senate to attend the rally and it was exciting to meet him and force allow my kids to shake his hand. Wanda looks really impressed, no? He had a full schedule today and the fact that he made time shows where his priorities are.

Tonight at dinner my kids remembered him by name and I think it’s so important for them to put a name and a face with someone responsible for making the laws we live under, someone we are responsible for hiring or firing every four years.

As a side note, Senator Hill is a former PTA president and recipient of the Golden Acorn award, a pretty big deal in the PTA world.

All the people we met were gracious and positive, despite the weather. A district officer from a larger school district in our region offered to let us ride on the buses they had reserved and paid for and sort of guided our little small-town contingent through the whole experience.

When I told my kids we’d go again next year, they didn’t cry or complain. I assume this is their way of saying, “That’s the best idea ever.” And that, combined with the tooth-brushing chants about revenue, tell me that today was a success. You should join us next year! Every child. One voice.

Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at Bite Upon Bite, and occasionally the gym.