Parent Teacher Association

US #1463 was issued for the 75th anniversary of the National PTA. Click image to order.

On February 17, 1897, the National Congress of Mothers was formed, which would later become the Parent Teacher Association.

The organization was the brainchild of Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst.  Both mothers, Birney and Hearst were deeply concerned about the welfare of children and believed in the importance of education in enriching their lives.

US #1463 – Plate Block First Day Cover.  Click image to order.

In 1895, Birney first proposed her idea for an organization to work on behalf of children.  Over the next two years, she gained support in her community.  Hearst was the wife of wealthy businessman George Hearst (and mother of William Randolph Hearst).  Hearst opened the first free kindergartens in San Francisco before moving to Washington, DC, where she met Birney.  Hearst convinced Birney that she should follow through with her organization and helped arrange the first meeting.

US #1463 – Fleetwood First Day Cover.  Click image to order.

That meeting was held on February 17, 1897, in Washington, DC.  They had expected about 200 people to attend, but a total of 2,000 people turned out.  While most of the people in attendance were mothers, there were also fathers, teachers, laborers, and legislators.  During that meeting, Birney was made the president of the National Congress of Mothers and Hearst was made the vice president. Mrs. Letitia Stevenson (wife of Vice President Adlai Stevenson) was also made a vice president.  Afterward, First Lady Frances Cleveland hosted a reception at the White House.

US #1093 was issued for the 100th anniversary of the National Education Association.  Click image to order.

The Congress met the following year and promoted cooperation between parents and teachers.  They also pushed for a national health bureau.  In the coming years, they would also call on more fathers to join the organization and speak out for juvenile justice, child labor laws, and providing federal aid to schools.  They also began providing hot lunches to children in schools and launched a campaign on child hygiene to reduce children’s mortality rates.  During the 1920s, the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers was founded to support children in segregated states (they joined with the PTA in the 1970s).

US #5276-79 – In recent years the PTA launched the STEM + Families initiative. Click image to order.

In 1924, the organization adopted a new name, the National Congress of Parents and Teachers.  It was also during this time that the PTA launched a crusade against illiteracy.  In the 1930s, the PTA began a special nutrition project and provided emergency aid to prevent children from suffering during the Depression.  They also began studying school bus safety.

US #1463 – Silk Cachet First Day Cover.  Click image to order.

In the 1940s, the PTA launched its nationwide school lunch program.  And in the 1950s, they held a conference on narcotics and drug addiction in youth.  The PTA also helped field-test and gain support for the Salk Polio Vaccine.  In the 1960s, the PTA spoke out about the dangers of smoking and pushed for toy safety legislation.  They also created a nationwide cultural arts program and brought more attention to home-school relations in low-income areas.

In the 1970s, the PTA spoke out about alcohol abuse and violence on television and encouraged parents to take part in decision-making in schools.  In the 1980s, the PTA pushed for safety belt legislation and created a drug and alcohol prevention program.  During the 1990s, they launched a campaign to protect children from violence and worked with other national groups to encourage parental involvement in early education.

Today, the PTA operates in every state as well as the District of Columbia, US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, with about 23,000 local organizations.

Click here to learn more from the PTA website.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. Honestly, I only knew of this group because of the Parent-Teacher meetings the my folks and teachers had when I was in school, and I thought they were a noble institution. Reading this article and particularly their goals and causes in the 70s until now–it seems like another group that wants to pry into and dictate the lives of other Americans, cramming their causes down the throats of everyone else.

      1. Ya know, you are so right, Nevin and Mike. Who but a “left wing” group like the PTA would support such “claptrap” as vaccination for kids, campaigns against smoking, promoting cultural arts, combatting drug and alcohol abuse, protecting kids from violence, promoting home-school cooperation, etc? Only a radical organization like the PTA would try to “dictate the lives of other Americans,” and cram “their causes down the throats of other Americans.”

      1. If you could hear the left wing claptrap that stands in for intelligence at out local school district here in beautiful snow–covered upstate New York, you wouldn’t need to ask the question Dr Roger. Are you a medical doctor, I wonder. I have a doctorate in philosophy but don’t normally sign myself Dr Mike.

    1. I assume that the majority of the readers of these columns are stamp collectors. I like to think of us as more tolerant towards diverse ideas. It is said that one could lose family and friends warring over religion and politics. I agree with Dr.Zeimet that all the goals mentioned in the article were noble causes. When 23,000 organizations, properly led, choose areas of concern, one should think that they are well considered. I was educated in private school where it was called Home and School . . . same values, other names. As a teacher for 43 years, I enjoyed working with the students despite some ornery parents. Bless the PTA.

  2. RIGHT-WING NAZI, I guess the PTA is just to left for you. Trying to prevent Drug abuse and children smoking, trying to prevent violence against children, HOW DARE THEY!
    All the while Don The Con Trump wants to get rid of the child labor laws and talk about how the Right wants to tell ME how to live. YOU ALL CAN GO TO HELL!!!

  3. It’s the quantity of stupidity in this conversation that perfectly illustrates the condition of our country in 2019. Only a total moron would prevent vaccinating children to prevent the spread of disease and it shouldn’t require an organization to enforce it. It’s common sense. The lack of knowledge these days has reached epidemic proportions and I don’t think that even the PTA can help. We’re on a downward spiral that has made us the laughing stock of the civilized world that sees Americans as violent and stupid bullys, much like the one in the White House.

    1. I totally agree with you, Thomas, this conversation is indeed stupid and all about politics instead of stamps. My mother attended every PTA meeting when I was in school; thanks to the PTA and its common sense policies, I was prepared for life as a non-smoker and not hooked on drugs and, thus, stayed healthy. Education has often been attacked by self-interest groups seeking its destruction to keep people uninformed and stupid. As a result, our society is on a downward spiral in the eyes of the civilized world. Parents, teachers and students need to get involved with input to assure quality public education. I am a retired educator serving special needs students and, I still keep contact with them and their families. You continue to do an outstanding job, Mystic, and again a big thanks to you!

      1. The thing that I’ve noticed that’s sorely lacking today is the parent in PTA. While not guaranteed, a child positively benefits from good parenting as you pointed out. The Columbine killers did everything under the noses of their disinterested parents, for instance. To call the PTA a left wing Nazi organization is completely out in left field. No pun intended. Just another example of the atmosphere in our country today. Maybe you should be required to take an IQ test before buying a cell ph., tablet or computer. Just a reminder: this is a STAMP BLOG leave your agenda at the local sewer.

      2. Hans M — I taught as a substitute in our local school system here in New York State for three years. My reaction that that is experiential, not theoretical or emotional. My opinions are not “stupid” no matter what you may think of “Trump and his regime.” What’s going on is real. You can’t know all of it but your opinions from experience are what really count.

  4. Mike B. might be a little over the top, but I do get his frustration. But as the Persian philosophers said when asked to compose a sentence that would be true on all issues and under all circumstances, “And this too shall pass away.” To which I add under the current regime, but not soon enough. But it will pass away on January 20, 2021, if not sooner.

    1. Keep dreaming, Conrad. Democrats are good at living in an ideal world instead of the real one. Your side will never win, but just become a series of new hellholes.

      1. Well, Dr. Mike, I do dream of the day when we have an honest competent President. It was just a little over two years ago when we had an intelligent man who didn’t call his opponents juvenile names, who didn’t spend all morning watching TV and tweeting, who appointed talented and competent cabinet members and advisors, who didn’t praise authoritarian leaders, and who…Well I could go on and on, but you get the idea. That’s why the Donald’s approval ratings hover around the mid 30s% A majority of Americans voted against him in 2016 and will again in 2020. That’s what I hope for and dream about.

  5. Thank you Mr Mike Sheffield. I learned to read English by going to school and doing what I and all were required to do. I learned Spanish before En-
    glish. My father told me that during one summer when we were out of school, my family went on vacation. We went to visit my grandparents, and my dad took the time to have me read articles in newspapers and magazines in my grandparents house. When I resumed the school year in the fall, the teacher could not believe how well I could read. Apparently I had literally skyrocketed in my reading level, compared to where it was before summer. I can also read in Russian and Greek. I cannot understand every word, but I can make out meanings and phrases. I taught myself through STAMP COLLECTING!! Known in the proper term: PHILATELY!!

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