What the PTSA stands for

We Stand for All Children

The PTA is the largest volunteer advocacy association working exclusively on behalf of all children.

For more than 100 years, we’ve promoted the education, health and safety of children, youth and families.


Our founders — Alice McLellan Birney, Phoebe Apperson Hearst and Selena Sloan Butler — knew there was no stronger bond than that between mother and child. To the mothers, then, they reasoned, must fall the responsibility for eliminating the threats that endangered the children.

They called for action and people responded – not only mothers but also fathers, teachers, laborers and legislators: all with a commitment to children.

Their commitment continues today — with you.


With nearly 1 million members throughout California, we’re carrying our founders’ vision – and our children’s lives — into the future. Join PTA and help us keep moving forward!


  • 2000s — Established as a PTA priority and initiated SMARTS – Bring Back the Arts Campaign to bring arts back to schools, the communities and children. Sponsored legislation to bring arts back to schools. Worked to defeat voucher initiative and pass an initiative to require 55-percent majority for passage of school-bond initiatives. Held statewide parenting conferences focused on training parents to be effective advocates. Established Cultural Arts Grants for unit, council and district PTAs and the Leadership Development Scholarship. Began process for streamlining and consolidating PTA publications. Membership increased for fourth consecutive year.
  • 1990s — Developed “Kids at Risk” legislation agenda. Participated in the Red Ribbon campaign against the use of alcohol and other drugs. Promoted Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) education. Sponsored legislation to require all school districts to adopt a parent-involvement policy. Introduced Parents Empowering Parents: a parent education and involvement manual developed by PTA with grant funds from California businesses; published Spanish edition as Los Padres Eligen Participar. Developed plans for a statewide parenting conference. Developed and awarded the first Golden Oak Award. Participated in a major statewide effort to defeat a voucher proposal. Sponsored legislation to ban Channel One from California classrooms and to add a component on working with parents to the teacher and administrator credentials curricula. Cosponsored the California Bicycle Helmet Safety Campaign with the California Department of Health Services. Received grant from Annenberg/CPB Math and Science Initiative V Project for Math for All program to teach K-3 parents how to help children with math. Developed Open the School House Doors Project, an action guide for its implementation and a Mentor Training Program. Produced a video: California State PTA – A Voice For All Children. Published “PTA Questions the Candidates for California Governor and State Superintendent of Public Instruction.” Developed “Outreach: Beyond the International Potluck.” Parent Talk cards produced. Developed a statewide campaign to reduce the size of California classrooms in grades 1-3. Celebrated the 100th birthday of PTA in 1997 by participating in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade, winning the Sweepstakes Award for The Field Trip float entry. Launched the California State PTA Internet website — www.capta.org — and issued a statewide progress report on the reduction of class size in California public schools. Completed development and unveiled a Strategic Plan for California State PTA. Opened satellite office in Sacramento. Hosted a statewide videoconference at 100th Convention in Sacramento: Keeping Youth Safe: The Critical After-School Hours.
  • 1980s — Completed Student Health Education Forums. Launched TV Viewing Skills Project. Began community meetings on motion pictures in cooperation with theater owners. Urged revision of state tax structure for public education. Established Grants for Parent Education and Health Projects. Completed juvenile-justice system study. Developed Room Representative Orientation Program to improve home-school communication. Took leadership role in enactment of Educational Reform Act. Began scholarships for school nurses. First membership increase in 15 years. Completed three-year PTA/American Cancer Society Project. Developed Parent’s Notebook skill sheets. Cooperated in KNBC-TV/PTA Teenage Alcohol Prevention Project. Designed leadership and parent involvement program with Southwest Regional Laboratory: the “Hispanic Recruitment Project.” Provided PTAs with resources to develop school/community disaster preparedness plans and the parent involvement in reading program. Largest membership increase in 27 years. Developed PTA Public Relations video and guidelines for “Involving the Uninvolved.” Launched a comprehensive Parenting Project funded by statewide fundraising campaign (trivia game). Developed “Strive for Excellence,” a self-esteem program for kindergarten students. Reaffirmed commitment to parent education and outreach to parents of increasingly diverse student populations. Received National PTA grant for Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) education.
  • 1970s — School feeding program survey conducted. Statement on environmental pollution adopted. Material prepared and distributed to promote Project RISE. Children’s Emotional Health conference co-sponsored with California Interagency Mental Health Council. Twenty-acre PTA Redwood Grove in Prairie Creek State Park dedicated. Interdistrict mass-media committees organized to preview and monitor TV and motion pictures. “California State PTA” adopted as alternate name for California Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. Contributed more than $7,000 toward State Park Wildflower Poppy Preserve. Administered Community Volunteer Project in Pomona and “Person-to-Person Intervention in Alcohol Abuse.” Adopted commission structure. Implemented bicentennial project (furnishing schoolhouse in Old Sacramento), antiviolence TV project, parenting conferences, comprehensive health education program. Commemorated 50 of the years Honorary Service Award (HSA) program. Name changed to California Congress of Parents, Teachers, and Students, Inc. (retained California State PTA). Convention delegates sent “Message to the Governor” urging public school finance be made top priority. With State Department of Education, developed A Guide to School and Community Action. Co-sponsored “Starting a Healthy Family” with National March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation.
  • 1960s — Cooperation with Colleges committee established. New State headquarters building opened Nov. 1, 1961, in Los Angeles with dedication in March 1962. “Paging Parents” TV series produced in cooperation with Los Angeles County schools. Suggestions for Conducting a Venereal Disease Study-Action Program published. Thirteen radio tapes on education developed in cooperation with California Teachers Association. Spanish language tapes — “How to Prepare Your Child for School” — prepared in cooperation with State Department of Education. Thirty-one junior colleges granted $200 each to establish Student Emergency Loan Funds. Continuing Service Award established by convention delegates. Joined in organizing California Interagency Council on Drug Abuse. Honorary Life Membership changed by convention delegates to Honorary Service Award in 1969. California Parent-Teacher magazine discontinued. Home-school-community relations conference held with grant from Sears Roebuck Foundation. Human Relations Handbook published.
  • 1950s — State office moved to Tenth District PTA Health Center on 21st Street, Los Angeles. Salk polio vaccine program supported. Five teacher recruitment clinics co-sponsored with State Department of Education. Thirty-week television program on child growth and development sponsored. Administrator’s Packet of Parent-Teacher Information distributed to all principals and school superintendents.
  • 1940s — Legislation for creation of California Youth Authority endorsed. Teacher Education Scholarships established: the first of a continuing program of scholarships in addition to student-loan program. Legislation for teachers’ salary schedule, apportionment of school funds as well as increased funding for all levels were supported. First home-school relationship conference co-sponsored with University California Berkeley School of Education and State Department of Education. Adopted CARE projects.
  • 1930s — Legislation on education of migrant children supported.
  • 1920s — Resolution adopted regarding enforcement of laws governing sale of cigarettes to children of school age. Juvenile protection committee created. California Parent-Teacher magazine began publication, including approved film lists. Name changed to California Congress of Parents and Teachers, Inc. Honorary Life Membership project adopted in 1927 to provide funds for student loans.
  • 1910s — Attempt made to secure State Aid for Dependent Children. Organization became California Congress of Mothers. Penny Kitchens, forerunner of school lunch programs, established. Permissive legislation that marked beginning of kindergartens in public schools supported. Department of Child Hygiene established and birth-registration bill supported. First Child Welfare Day observed, later to become Founders Day. Name changed to California Congress of Mothers and Parent-Teacher Associations. Public library services supported.
  • 1900s — Los Angeles Federation of Mothers’ Clubs organized in Los Angeles. Name changed to California Congress of Mothers and Study Circles — affiliated with National PTA. Juvenile Court Act supported. Playground committee authorized and student welfare program started. Legislation committee appointed.
  • 1897 — California Home and School Child Study Association organized in San Francisco.