PTA: Parent Teacher Adversaries?
September 9th was the start of school. It is now September 29, 2009. I have been in a whirlwind of getting my now 3rd grader to stop grieving the end of the summer and just get on with it, and acclimating my youngest to Kindergarten. And then all the start-of-the-school-year PTA responsibilities: the orientation meetings (our school is K-12, so there’s three of them-elementary, middle and high); the meet-and-greets; the coffee mornings; Back to School Night and membership drives and bake sales; getting the PTA sponsored Enrichment program scheduled and publicized; the first membership meeting and trying to get a budget passed. It didn’t. There hasn’t been much me-time. Sometimes there hasn’t been very much personal hygiene time. Honestly, it’s shocking how I turn up to school some mornings, and really rather hypocritical considering how I admonish my children to brush their teeth, brush their hair, wash their faces. Now.
The PTA Secretary’s duties include keeping a record of volunteer hours. The PTA is a 501c (3) organization (meaning non-profit) and volunteer hours are one of the proofs of non-profit standing that the IRS requires. Those hours add up. I have already put in the equivalent of two work-weeks. That’s a lot of donated time! So it rankles when there is too much expectation from the teaching staff. I got a request for the PTA to coordinate Room Parents. Being English I wasn’t familiar with the term, but it is a parent representative and coordinator for the classroom, and generally someone who puts in a fair amount of volunteer time. I said no. I thought it added an extra and unnecessary step, and I think the teachers should liaise directly with their Room Parents. “No,” I said, and it felt pretty good.
But, in turn, teachers can say no right back. Three years ago, our school was lucky enough to secure a VH-1 grant. We received beautiful violins for our K-2 students because music instruction in our school district does not begin until 3rd grade. The stipulation to the grant is that the students receive instruction. The PTA (i.e. the parent who got the grant and l’il ol’ me) set up an after-school enrichment program and our professional and heroic parent volunteers donated their time to instruct. The profits from the enrichment program cover the cost of professional tuition. How win-win! We get Enrichment and violins! This year after scheduling this violin program and letting the elementary teacher know this, I was informed by email that there was a “problem,” that K-2 had decided to not do violins this year and they realized that the violins would have to be returned. Forever. I can’t even begin to explain how obtuse I find this. Our school has a code of ethics and I can’t fathom where thanklessly returning a grant is part of it, or undervaluing the effort parents put in for a program they believed in. I think this unilateral disbandment is a horrible precedent to set.
Optimist that I am, though, I do believe this is a decision that can be reversed. Our principal is an advocate for his staff, which is as it should be, but he is sympathetic to the parent body. However I’ve also just learned that we may be losing our 3rd, 4th and 5th grade curricular instrumental instruction by choice. My question, which I hope to have at least a partial answer to very soon, is how much of a say can parents reasonably expect to have in their children’s public education? So this isn’t finished. I’ll be letting you know…
Photo by uwdigitalcollections
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 2 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook