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Does Your PTA/PTSA Do Anything?

csshsmcsshsm Posts: 254Registered User Junior Member
edited February 2007 in Parent Cafe
I started going to PTSA meetings at my youngest child's public high school recently and realized only 10-20 parents are showing up at these meetings in a school that has 1600 students. Of course, my oldest daughter graduated from the same school last year, and I never attended a meeting during her whole tenure there, so I have been one of the apathetic. Does your school have an active, meaningful PTA? How do you get people interested? How do you raise money?
Post edited by csshsm on
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Replies to: Does Your PTA/PTSA Do Anything?

  • weenieweenie Posts: 5,793Registered User Senior Member
    People get tired of them because they often have so little to do with real education issues. We called our's the "bossy moms club."
  • maritemarite Posts: 21,586Registered User Senior Member
    The School Council (PTA) was extremely active in K-8 and involved many parents.
    At the high school level, the School Council is given a lot less to do, its responsibilities are far less clear; there are fewer parents participating in school-wide activities besides parent-teacher night and a few other informational events.
  • chocoholicchocoholic Posts: 2,995Registered User Senior Member
    "Bossy mom's club" just about sums it up. Our elementary school one is populated by women who want to socialize and show off. In the H.S., they are on a first name basis with all the powers-that-be. Many changes are made, academically and socially, that are detrimental to the top 20% of students. Some of these women are quite almighty. In 10 years we have lived in this town, I only know of 1 woman who was a truly dedicated worker.
  • curiousmothercuriousmother Posts: 630Registered User Member
    My kids' elementry school's Parents' Association is extremely active! They run a school auction that raises around $300,000/year to cover the tuition gap, they organize teacher's lunches once a month, field cafeteria and library volunteers daily, organize meals for families with a sick parent, families with new babies, etc., and help out in many other capacities. Without them, the school (a Catholic parochial school) would fall apart. Some mothers dedicate huge amounts of time to it. The current president works full time outside the home as well (I don't know how she does it!)

    At this school, it certainly "takes a village."

    At my daughter's high school, however, it is a lot less hands-on.
  • kjofkwkjofkw Posts: 554Registered User Member
    Ours is a VERY small, but VERY active group. They coordinate a lot of fund raising activities that directly help teachers and/or the classroom. They coordinate (and fund) several student social and extra-curricular academic activities. It is disappointing to see how few attend the meetings, but there is a lot that happens outside the meetings which fall under the PTA umbrella. I think those who come periodically to the meetings and see such a small group feel that it is ineffective, but knowing what they accomplish, I think it is quite the opposite.
  • StickerShockStickerShock Posts: 3,781Registered User Senior Member
    Our PTOs do some very good work. The meetings have poor attendance, but the number of people eager & willing to volunteer is enough to get the job done. I used to run holiday boutiques or take on an occasional chairmanship, but I've stepped back now & let younger moms take charge. Now I just say "give me a job to do" and I get cracking. I've seen the personality of the executive boards change over time. Some very cliquish, others open to all those willing to help. I've been at meetings where the president moved things along & accomplished much in a small time period. I've also been at meetings where members would argue for half an hour over which type of flower, a marigold or a pansy, to offer at the Mother's Day plant sale. Or whether the trickey-tray program should be on blue paper or green. That's why I skip the meetings, now. I feel as if my head will explode. Just tell me where you want the boxes carried or the crepe paper hung.

    The PTOs have no say in curriculum, but they have been able to purchase educational enhancements such as computers, books, AV equipment. Phone chains started by the PTO have been instrumental in getting school budgets passed.
  • dmd77dmd77 Posts: 7,706Registered User Senior Member
    I think elementary school PTAs are often well-described as "bossy mom's clubs" and it's easy to see their priorities when they meet during the school day, making it impossible for working parents (both sexes) to participate.

    Around here the HS PTAs can be very active in fundraising, which has led to some major inequities, as some schools have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars (those in rich neighborhoods) and others hardly anything. In response we now have some district-wide fundraising efforts.
  • binxbinx Posts: 4,318Registered User Senior Member
    It depends on which day you ask me. On my more cynical days, it seems like the PTA's job is to extort money out of parents so they can give money to the teachers and school to buy personal favor and prestige. However, to be fair, I know and have known many selfless individuals who are involved as a way to participate in their children's education, and give countless hours to thankless jobs. Our PTA really does some good things - like the after graduation all-night party, that is well-run, well-staffed, and is quite popular with the students. (In part because of the good door prizes - my S1 won a futon. And in part because they won't let parents of seniors chaperone.)

    Another good thing they do is send out a regular email to anyone who signs up, to receive bulletins and newsletters.

    As with any volunteer organization, sometimes some committees fall flat, or overstep their bounds.
  • weenieweenie Posts: 5,793Registered User Senior Member
    I sort of resented fundraising in public schools. I think if it's something important then it should be in the budget, plain and simple. And if it isn't important, then maybe communities wealthy enough to fund raise should send some of those funds over to the poor schools.
  • -Allmusic--Allmusic- Posts: 6,350Registered User Senior Member
    Even in our own district, one elementary school might raise $10K at an event like a special dinner or fair, and another (in a less affluent area of town) might only raise $4K.

    I stopped going to elementary PTA when they started holding the meetings in the morning. Duh. Parents work. Teachers work. What kind of PTA is that?
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 23,366Registered User Senior Member
    Our elementary PTA was great - it ran the Reading is Fundamental Program, spearheaded the creation of a Learning Garden when temporary classrooms were removed (getting many donatins from the community), created a Peer Mediation program, ran a busy afterschool program, gave a lot of money to the school for assemblies, teacher expenses and subsidized the yearbook. Our middle school PTA did less, but we did donate money for assemblies and we ran a teacher grant program among other activities. They also had a pretty good series of speakers at meetings talking about various adolescent issues. I wish the high school PTA did more. I try to go to meetings mostly for the Principal's report, they generally have speakers that talk about different programs in the school.

    As for fundraising elementary school did fundraising mostly through wrap sale and a smaller portion through various social events. Middle school did a magazine sale that paid for everything. High school has no money except for the dues.

    Our PTAs all meet in the evening though the elementary and middle school have both had one or two morning meetings a year because apparently some parents prefer them. Since teachers hardly ever come to PTA meetings except when specifically invited the morning meeting issue is only a theoretical problem for us.

    I do agree that PTA money does just exacerbate already existing disparities between wealthier and less wealthy schools.
  • walkinghomewalkinghome Posts: 6,933Registered User Senior Member
    We do not have a high school pta or pto. Parents that want to get involved do so through the booster groups. If their student does a sport it's pretty mandatory. A couple of years ago the High School started a parents meeting but it is an informational session where the Principal talked about a certain subject and then parents could ask questions. They hold them every couple of months.

    I loved our elementary PTA. We had lots of hard working parents that ran the copy committees, reading clubs, publishing center, festivals, fundraising, etc. And yes, we had meetings during the day to accomodate the work at home parents that actually attended the meetings and did 90% of the work. Most of the jobs that needed to be filled were during the school time when parents with traditional jobs couldn't help. The "working" parents had great intentions but no time and whenever we had an evening meeting, would not or could not attend. I put quotation marks around working because, as we all know, there isn't one parent that isn't working, but some get paid for their efforts.

    In middle school there is a parents organization but it does support stuff only like running a copy committee for the teachers, baking cookies for incentive for kids reading, and helping with sorting of fundraisers. The fundraisers themselves are run by the student council.
  • ldmom06ldmom06 Posts: 5,564Registered User Senior Member
    I was on a PTO Board for years and I think we did good work. We organized several fundraisers; the big one being a Spring Carnival and Auction that was extremely well attended well outside the school community. We were able to buy playground equipment, library books and computers... and we were very appreciated by teachers and administration.

    But, getting on the PTO Board was a deal. You had to be invited by the current Board when a position opened up and the organization had an air about it of an exclusive, social club with dressing up for luncheon meetings being the norm. There was a fair amount of bickering and snarkiness... and the junior members were expected to be subjugated to the senior members.

    I quietly did my 5 years and when my d moved on to middle school, I was out of there. When we moved to a different school district, I opted not to get involved with the Board duties. I still volunteer for my son's school; but with reading and math programs, book sales, in the infirmary and by being a foot soldier at fundraisers. I leave the 'officer' duties to someone else. (It's actually a lot more fun too!)

    So I guess it's a good outweighing the bad situation.
  • mathmommathmom Posts: 23,366Registered User Senior Member
    Gosh we always had to twist arms to get people to actually be an officer or run a committee. Not at all an exclusive social club. We also made every effort to make our officers as diverse as the school. Most parents in our school worked at least part time, so we really didn't get the divide between working and non-working parents. I was always surprised at how many working parents had flexible enough schedules to put in a few hours on RIF distribution days.
  • StickerShockStickerShock Posts: 3,781Registered User Senior Member
    I stopped going to elementary PTA when they started holding the meetings in the morning. Duh. Parents work. Teachers work. What kind of PTA is that?
    Probably one where the most reliable volunteers preferred the morning meeting. We have only one teacher (who is paid to attend) at our evening meeting, plus the principal & the BOE rep. I've found that the evening meetings are impossible to fit in with the kids' schedules & H's crazy hours & travel, so I can no longer attend. Daytime works for me, so the PTO knows I'm usually a "yes" for daytime service. It's actually a nice balance of SAHMs, career moms, and a sprinkling of dads. The bulk of the work is done by the SAHMs, but they hold evening meetings for the convenience of those who work. No offer of help is ever turned down. We've even worked out babysitting pools so we'd have enough warm bodies to staff carnivals, pumpkin patches, and book fairs. I've seen people get turned off when an officer gets a bit full of herself & starts treating the volunteer like a paid employee, but that doesn't happen often.
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