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National PTA was founded February 17, 1897, in Washington, DC as the National Congress of Mothers. Fathers and teachers joined in increasing numbers, so the name was changed in 1925 to National Congress of Parents and Teachers. Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst are recognized as co-founders of National PTA.
Because of the dual school system that existed in nineteen southern states and the District of Columbia, the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers was organized in 1926 in Atlanta, Georgia, with Selena Sloan Butler as founder. National PTA helped set up the organization and worked closely with the group, whose objects and child welfare goals were the same as its own.
The National Congress of Parents and Teachers, and the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers were united June 11, 1970. The unified organization, continuing as the National Congress of Parents and Teachers, serves all children with equal concern for all.
The Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers, along with other state branches, is an integral part of National PTA, serving as a connecting link between the national organization and its membership with the state. The Virginia Congress of Parents and Teachers was part of the Cooperative Education Association and joined National PTA in 1921. The membership of Virginia PTA is the individual members of the local associations. The membership of National PTA is the sum of the membership in the various state PTA branches. A person who joins a local PTA unit automatically becomes a member of Virginia PTA and National PTA.
Virginia PTA is divided into six regions so that a closer working relationship with districts, councils and local units may be achieved. A district director representative, elected by the district directors from his/her respective region, represents the combined interests of all districts in the region on the Executive Committee. These representatives are elected at the spring Board of Managers meeting to serve a one year term and may serve in this capacity for two consecutive terms.
Districts are geographical divisions of the state designated by the state board to carry on state work effectively. The state bylaws govern the work of the district and must be approved by the state Bylaws Committee. The district PTA also helps to integrate council and local unit work with state and national programs and activities. Elected to a two-year term by the district membership, the district director represents the district on Virginia PTA's Board of Managers.
A council of Parent Teacher Associations and/or Parent Teacher Student Associations is a group of local units in a town, city, or county, organized under the authority of the state PTA. There must be three local units in an area to form a council. Its purpose is to promote conferences, leadership training, and coordination of efforts of the local PTAs and its membership. A council serves as an advisor to the local units and may not legislate for its local units.
The local unit is the most important division of PTA. All other divisions exist to serve the local PTA. The local PTA is organized and chartered by the state PTA in accordance with authority granted to the state by National PTA bylaws. The state PTA bylaws are approved and adopted by delegates at the annual state convention. The procedures and requirements for the organization of local associations are set forth in the state bylaws, but it is a self-governing body. The local PTA plans its programs and activities to meet the needs of children and youth in its own school and community. Guidelines and program aids are offered by the national and state PTA to help local units plan their programs and projects. The local unit promotes those, which meet the needs of their community.