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To PTA or Not PTA?

October 10, 2009
13 Comments

The summer is coming to an end and days are filled with back to school shopping, labeling our children’s school things, and thinking about what this school year will be like for our children. Will she have a good teacher? Will her best friend be in her class? Will she do well in school? How much homework will she have? What can I do to make the school days easier for her?

Then the first day of school arrives and you have your children dressed to the nines. You snap pictures and send them off for their big day. They come home with their brand new back packs filled with homework for YOU to do. They have tons of paperwork for you to fill out updating all of their information for the year and numerous fliers including one from PTA. You quickly fill everything out and send it back. You study the PTA paper and think should I join PTA? Why should I join PTA?

Let me tell you why I joined the PTA. It started five years ago when my oldest was in Kindergarten. I was excited about my daughter beginning school. I wanted to be there though and be involved. I went to the first meeting and even volunteered to help get shopping carts for their first event. I went to a few meetings, but that was about it. I paid my dues and even joined again the following year, but there were new officers and I found myself not knowing when PTA meetings were. I felt like it was some elite club that I wasn’t really welcome at.

Unfortunately a lot of parents were beginning to feel that way in the school about our PTA and things needed to change. I was approached by our schools Family Resource Center about this. I went to every meeting that next year. I became the chairperson for the schools Fall Festival. I was good at it, but I did struggle big time with officers who did not communicate or want to give up power. Somehow it all worked out though. And I continued to push. I got the Box Tops program up and running in the school again. I found a new fundraiser or our spring fundraiser. I was nominated as PTA president. I ran unopposed. That was how I became the PTA President at my school.

This is not to say it will be the case in all schools. I decided though that I wanted a change. I wanted our PTA to be welcoming and better for my children. I knew this was an important group and an important part of the school and I wanted to be a part of it and I wanted it to succeed.

You’re still wondering, why PTA? Is it for me? Isn’t it just a bunch of cookie making fund raising moms? Well, it’s not supposed to be. Yes, I do bake cookies and yes PTA does do fundraisers. This is not why I do it though. Here are a few things you might be interested to know about PTA and why it will be beneficial to join:

1. You are part of a group of parents with a large voice to help advocate for the health, education and welfare of our children. So if you have an issue with anything pertaining to the school (ie lunches, the math program, or the safety of the building) you have a connection to lots of other parents who might feel the same way you do and you can ban together to voice your opinions. And even beyond that nationally you are a part of 5 million other parents who could feel the same way you do about an issue and you can tap into that group of people and make a change nation wide.

2. An understanding of the school system. You’ll be in the school and working with the principal and the teachers and knowing what goes on day in and day out in your child’s school.

3. Child development training classes.

4. As a PTA member you get special discounts like coupons and money off your T-Mobile bill.

5. More parents’ involvement equals more successful children. It is proven that an involved parent raises a child’s progress in school. And really isn’t that what it’s all about? Making sure our children are successful in life.

PTA is not all about fund raising and cookies. We provide enrichment for the children. We have events which bring the parents and children into the school for fun and learning.

For me my involvement in the school has given me so much for my children. I have such a great support system in the school. I know my children’s teachers. I see them on a day to day basis. Both of my girls were honored at the end of last year for being super students. They were two out of just about fifty other children in the school to win this distinguished honor. My oldest had straight A’s all of last year. She also read the most minutes of any other student in the entire school and won 1st runner up in the poetry contest. My involvement in the school has helped my younger daughter in a much different way. She struggles with reading. I have sat down with the principal to discuss her troubles numerous times. Because he has worked closely with me for three years now he knew that I wasn’t just trying to cause trouble. He took my concerns seriously and when I requested more be done he provided it. He knows my children very well. And it’s not because they are trouble makers and in his office all of the time either. He knows them by name. He knows their personalities. He’s been watching my youngest since he was a new born and will be ready to have him in his school in two years. My children are comfortable talking to the principal and going to his office. I couldn’t ask for a better relationship between myself and the principal and my children and the principal.

So when that PTA paper comes home in your child’s backpack on the first day of school what will you do with it? Will you throw it out? Or will you begin on a wonderful journey with your children this school year? I hope you make the choice to join PTA this year. I really think it’s a choice you will NOT regret.

Monica is a wife and a mother most importantly. She is also a daughter, a sister, a cousin, an Aunt, and a friend. She is the PTA president at her girl’s school.

13 Comments

PTA...bad bad here. Elitist club, not welcoming. people who will not give up their power.

It's a drag...I dropped out b/c I was tired of fighting it. Don't know what makes people hang on to power, or not let you disagree with an idea of theirs. Sucks..but it's the truth.

thank you for a wonderful article. I'm the PTA president of my daughters' small school and though the parents are very active and involved, only 1/3 were PTA members. My goals this year are to enhance communications and create a dynamic forum for parents and (teachers)so that everyone feels apart of the process - and welcome to share and contribute. I hope more parents read your blog and make the right choice regarding their PTA membership.

I have been part of 4 PTA's. I thought like Alexandra did about the first one, until I got to know the people involved - they were doing the best they could. Since it's all volunteer and we all know that 10% of the people do 90% of the work in EVERY organization, I realized that they were the 10% willing to give of their time and energy to give enormous amounts of EVERYTHING to the school. I got involved and welcome ANYONE willing to get in there and help with anything...

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I am a School Director and I can't tell you the difference that PTA makes at our school. Even though we struggle sometimes with some of the issues mentioned in the article, every meeting is productive and outcomes have a positive impact in the school and children's education. Don't ever hesitate to be involved in your child's PTA...
Maria Laura Mas. The Goddard School

I personally abhor anything that smells of fund raiser. I think it is a waste of important educational time to brainwash my children into selling things that are totally superfluous. I have asked that my son be excluded from any seminar/assembly that is related to fundraising especially since the vision of how this money will be spent is at best unclear.

The idea of peddling wares that most of the population in our school district can't afford makes me sick...

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At the Elementary school, we have a PTO, and I have been very involved with different positions over the last few years. Although all parents/guardians are considered members, it was typically the same 15 parents that came to every meeting. Thankfully, we almost always have enough folks volunteer for our activities, even if they don't attend the meetings.

At the Middle school my oldest son attended, I was a member for all three years...

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I have been involved in the PTA for several years in different roles and at 3 different schools that my kids have attended. It can be a struggle, depending on the personalities who are on the board of directors - BUT the reason we are all there is for the kids - PTA is so much more than fundraising and baking cookies - it is the largest child advocacy organization in my state and when combined with National PTA we are a powerful voice for the health, safety, welfare and education of our kids...

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When my son was in Kindergarten, I didn't really participate in our PTO - however, the President's girls were in the AfterCare program with my son, so I talked with her on an almost daily basis. If the PTO needed help setting things up for an event, I was glad to pitch in. I went to my first meeting in April of that year.....came away with being the Fundraising Chair for the next year. Next meeting, I was moved to VP for the next two years...

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Thank you for posting this article. I am highly involved in my children's elementary school, volunteering for at least 10 commitees. I'm not on the board of the PTA and don't have a desire to do the power play, however, I do feel it's important to chair a committee so that you are visable to the teaching staff as a caring parent. They will take your requests with regards to your child more seriously than a parent who doesn't volunteer any time...

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I have been roped into the PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) our version of PTA at my children's school. It is frustrating because we just can't seem to get parents and some teachers interested at all. There is a very small group of people who are overwhelmed and do everything.

That being said I have found my nitch. I have the internet at home so I can hunt for cheaper prices and resources for the school...

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I want to thank you all for reading and for your comments. My reason for writing this was to let people know who believe that all PTA is is a bunch of fundraising moms that this is not actually the case. There is a reason for the fundraising. I can't speak for what other PTA's or PTO's do with the money, but in our school a large portion of our raised funds goes towards field trips for the kids at the end of the year to make it possible for all children to go...

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I don't find the people involved in PTAs to be any different than the people I run into anywhere else. Funding for public schools throughout the U.S. has been taking a beating for years, and it's been particularly difficult in my fine state of California. I particularly love how state and federal government is all for mandating testing (which ultimately call for 100% of all students to be proficient) with zero additional monies...

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I was active in our PTA for 4 years, but grew increasingly frustrated with the "high school" drama and politics. My youngest son spent a lot of time sitting there watching me do projects up at the school, which now I wish I had spent some of that time taking him to the zoo, etc. This is his last year before he starts going to school all day, and I vowed not to spend all my time doing PTA activities.Yes, there was guilt at first, but now I'm so glad to have my priorities straight...

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