The magazine gave 51 mothers — one from each state and the District of Columbia — an all-expense paid trip to the conference, which was held April 10-13 at Georgetown University.
One of the guest speakers was U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who discussed the role parents play in helping implement a national agenda for improving the country’s school system.
Reason said Duncan’s talk was a “powerful punch.”
“The main goals of gathering these women together were to increase awareness and help those of us who are working on a small scale learn the best way to serve as educational advocates,” Reason said.
Other organizations featured at the conference included First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, StudentsFirst.org, Reach Out and Read, the National PTA, National Education Association, Headstart, PBS and NBC Learn.
Several of the sessions at this year’s Mom Congress focused on food and physical education.
Jamie Oliver of the reality show “The Food Revolution” offered a video presentation.
Mrs. Q, an anonymous educator who ate school lunches every day in 2010 and documented her experiences on her “Fed Up With Lunch” blog, attended the conference.
Mom Congress delegates were served a lunch one day of barbecue chicken drumsticks, rice pilaf, carrots, broccoli and a wheat roll. Reason said the example of a nutritional school lunch was “quite tasty even with my picky palate.”
Reason actively participated in what she described as an “intense debate” regarding physical education and recess.
Reason, who has two young sons, wanted to know how moms can successfully push for a stronger physical education system when most educators are more concerned with raising standardized test scores.
“Although we still give our children a measly 30 minutes to release some steam, our (Alabama’s) test scores aren’t indicative of the benefits that students have when they receive time to release stress and energy,” Reason said.
Reason, a former daycare owner, was also interested in a session on the importance of early learning.
Reason said that although the importance of reading is often emphasized, the speakers also discussed how to help children learn through play.
“Teaching children while allowing them to have fun is essential in the early years and could quite possible benefit us all throughout our lives.”
Topics of other sessions at the conference included bullying, social media, early literacy and “Waiting for Superman: What’s Next?”
Reason said the best part of the conference was “being with women who had many of the same ambitions that I have. Their desire and intensity to get out and make good things happen was overwhelming.”