Kentucky PTA History
Although Kentucky PTA officially began in 1918, there were active PTAs in Kentucky long before that. There are records of PTA in Kentucky before the turn of the century, two decades before there was a Kentucky PTA.
Many of the first PTAs were called Mothers’ Clubs, reflecting the early name for PTA, the National Congress of Mothers. Others were called School Improvement Leagues. There were early PTAs in Frankfort, Louisville and Owensboro. Nine PTAs in Louisville formed Kentucky PTA’s first council, the Louisville Parent-Teacher League, in 1910. Its aim was: “To become a unit in the great movement that is striving to know and develop better children, mentally, morally and physically.”
The National PTA was founded on February 17, 1897. Phillis Wheatley (Colored) School in Louisville was the first PTA in Kentucky affiliated with the National PTA. PTA urged the establishment of kindergartens.
Four of the nine PTAs that formed the first PTA council continue today: Phillis Wheatley, Gavin H. Cochran, Parkland (now Maupin) and Western Department (now Western Middle). PTA asked for federal assistance for kindergartens and elementary schools, and for higher salaries for teachers.
Lida Gardner, called the “Mother of Kentucky PTA”, formed school improvement leagues for “improvement and advancement of educational opportunities…” The “State Community Improvement League and Parent-Teacher Association” was formed in 1917.
The “Kentucky State Branch of the National Congress of Mothers and Parent Teacher Associations” was organized on April 24, 1918. Its charter was granted on April 27.PTA formed Moving Pictures Committees “to create a demand for better films for children and influence manufacturers of films to supply clean, wholesome pictures for children’s programs.”
The Kentucky PTA began publishing The Kentucky Parent-Teacher, the state PTA newsletter that continues today under the name, Our Children…Our Future.
Etta Taylor served as first president of the KCCPT (Kentucky Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers), 1921-1922.
The NCCPT (National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers) was formed in 1926.
The KCCPT became affiliated with NCCPT in 1927.
The PTAs in Northern Kentucky joined to form the “Sixth District Parent-Teacher Federation.” Butler, Crescent Springs, Ft. Mitchell, Ft. Thomas, Ludlow and Walton gave reports at the October, 1923 meeting.
Kentucky PTA participated in the nation-wide health project “Summer Roundup of Children,” to encourage health checkups for all children before entering school.
Mrs. George Weldon, Kentucky PTA’s first president, was elected National PTA Vice President.
During the Depression, schools were menaced by decreasing income; the health and welfare of children and youth were endangered. PTAs across the commonwealth worked tirelessly to keep school open and keep children in school. Every day found parent parents in the schools preparing healthy lunches so children would get at least one good meal a day.
The rise of the motor car also put children at risk and traffic safety programs were developed.
Margaret Sheehan, Kentucky PTA’s fifth president, was elected National PTA Vice President for Region Four.
Essie Mack, Louisville, (KCCPT president 1922-1931) served as president of the NCCPT from 1935 to 1939.
PTAs participated in war relief projects such as salvage drives, clothing drives and the sale of war bonds and stamps. PTA inaugurated a nation-wide school lunch program
The National PTA served as consultant to the U. S. delegation at the UN planning conference and as an advisor on UNESCO.
Kentucky PTAs focused on a four point program: Better schools, Better health, world understanding and parent education.
The Kentucky PTA held leadership conferences to provide trainings for local PTA leaders. They are still held today. PTA worked for passage of the largest education budget in the history of the commonwealth.
Kentucky, with the National PTA, participated in field testing the Salk polio vaccine and the vaccination of school children. PTA addressed the problems of narcotics and drug addiction.
A headquarters fund was established and funds raised toward the dream of Kentucky PTA having its own state office.
PTA began addressing the problems of tobacco and health; the advertising of tobacco; and tobacco use by minors.
Kentucky PTA participated in a joint legislative meeting with state education organizations representing teachers, administrators, the state department of education and others.
Minnie Hitch Mebane, Frankfort and Paris, (KCCPT president 1943-1947) served as NCCPT president from 1964 to 1967.
The NCCPT and the National PTA merged on June 22, 1970.
PTSAs (Parent-Teacher-Student Associations) were formed.
PTA began addressing the problem of TV violence.
The first “PTA Day at the Legislature” was held in Frankfort.
Thousands of PTA volunteers worked in the schools the first weeks of busing.
Kentucky PTA established Kentucky Kids’ Day.
Kentucky PTA held its first two day legislative conference.
The PTA field service team traveled to every part of the state talking to parents, teachers, principals and superintendents.
PTA joined with other education and support groups to establish the Education Coalition.
The courts ruled that Kentucky’s public school system was inequitable and inadequate.
PTA members spoke at public hearings held throughout the state.
Kentucky PTA gave testimony at education reform hearings and helped write the laws pertaining to local school councils. PTA developed and printed a parent handbook on School-Based Decision Making (SBDM).
Kentucky PTA purchased its own state office headquarters.
Two Kentucky PTA presidents were elected National PTA officers: Jane Boyer, Vice President for Region Three, in 1990; and Karen Jones, Region Three Director, in 1999.
PTA continues to advocate for children and youth in the 21st century. The education, health and safety of every child is PTA’s main focus. To accomplish these goals, PTA emphasizes the importance of parent involvement. When parents devote time and loving attention to their children, research proves that their children thrive. Success in school increases when parents are involved with their children’s education, supporting the value of learning in both the home and the school.
Kentucky PTA has worked with other education partners on the Commissioner’s Parent Advisory Council and developed “The Missing Piece of the Proficiency Puzzle.” This document will assist every school in Kentucky in becoming family friendly through relationship building, effective communications, decision making, advocacy, learning opportunities and community partnerships. A rubric will be used to establish and gauge success of family and community involvement in all education processes. It stresses the importance of parents becoming involved in children’s education and supports the value of learning in both home and school.
PTA also stresses the important of building relationships with other groups and organizations that support education and children-in local communities, the state and the nation.
National PTA has developed and published a book on “Building Successful Partnerships: A Guide to Parent and Family Involvement Programs.” Kentucky PTA is a leader in providing workshops and training on “Building Successful Partnerships.” PTA is the largest volunteer organization serving children, youth and public education.