PTA: Connecting to Wired Parents, but Working with All Parents

Posted by on Feb 6, 2016 in Blog | No Comments

This post was originally published on the National PTA blog Friday, February 06, 2009


PTA has something of a reputation. It’s as American as baseball and apple pie, but also known as something your mother did—whether you were in grade school 30 years ago, or in the 1930s. This image of PTA as an “old school” organization, if you’ll pardon the pun, is only exacerbated when stories like the one last week in the Post suggest false choices like this: you’re either a “well-wired activist” or you’re “just involved in the PTA.”

The mere fact that you’re reading this right now on PTA’s blog should indicate that perhaps you’re not dealing with “your mother’s PTA” anymore. In truth, if you really are a well-wired parent, odds are you’ve already seen evidence of this, be it on Facebook, YouTube, Fotki, or Twitter. And if you’re not a well-wired parent, you’re missing out on great updates like those PTA National Secretary-Treasurer Betsy Landers made from the Inauguration via her own Facebook page.

But getting caught up in all this terrific new technology misses the larger point. Betsy wasn’t just posting photos of DC monuments, she was sharing with members her meeting with Linda Darling-Hammond (head of Obama’s education policy working group), the National School Boards Association, and the American Association of School Administrators. Maybe you weren’t aware of it as a child, but PTA parents are activists—always have been, and always will be. PTA does nothing if not urge parents to get involved, and that means talking to superintendents, working with businesses in your community, and forming partnerships with anyone else willing to work on behalf of children. And this goes for families on both side of the digital divide: more than anything, PTA wants parents to do more than simply “write checks.”

If you belong to one of those “other” parent groups, with an agenda limited to helping only your own school, I strongly encourage you to give PTA a second look. During President Obama’s transition period, the PTA public policy team had a one-on-one meeting with his education team and presented the 2009 PTA Public Policy Agenda. The new administration was thrilled with the idea that PTA was rejuvenating its advocacy efforts, and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has already made clear what an important role PTA can play in improving education.

If you’re wondering how No Child Left Behind came to have the parent involvement policies it currently has (including provisions which require schools to publish information for parents), you can thank PTA members for their efforts during President George W. Bush’s term. If you’re wondering how you can help No Child Left Behind have even better parent involvement policies during President Obama’s term, we’re looking for a few good advocates.

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