Friday, May 7, 2010

PTA - Social Organization or Advocacy Group?

Pardon me today if my blog takes on somewhat of a defensive and/or angry tone, but I feel the need to be a tad forceful about this subject. The subject is PTA. I want to clear up a few misconceptions about this organization. First of all, PTA is not insignificant or unimportant, nor is it made up of a bunch of bored housewives who have nothing better to occupy their time besides selling wrapping paper, throwing parties and socializing amongst themselves. PTA is an organization of dedicated women and men who sacrifice many hours a year, year after year, for one reason and one reason only - children. We cherish not only our own children, but all children and we are one of their fiercest advocates. I say we here because I am a PTA member. I was honored as a state PTA Lifetime Member several years ago and it is one of my proudest accomplishments. Let me tell you why.

PTA has a long history of advocating for children. As a matter of fact, it is the largest volunteer organization actively advocating for children. This is an organization that does not simply sit on its hands and complain about what is wrong with the public education system in this country. To the contrary, PTA is directly involved in lobbying not only at local and state levels, but also at the national level. There are thousands of men and women, nationwide, pounding the pavement to exact change in legislation regarding myriad educational issues. Issues that impact children of all ages, races and income levels. PTA is there for every child. Those fees we pay to join the PTA goe toward those efforts. I don't complain about having to join three different PTAs in the same school district, (my kids are in elementary, middle and high school) because I know that those paltry dues are gathered and together with other monies are used in for great cause - one that I believe in. One that I believe does make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

At first glance it may seem that your local PTA is simply there to ask you for donations, hound you to volunteer and otherwise pester you, and we are, but, it is so much more than that. Let me just tell you just a few of the things that we do behind the scenes that you may not know about; what we do with all that money you donate. We bring fun, yet educational programs into the school. We provide supplemental monetary support for field trips not fully paid for by the school district. We donate books, both to the school library and to individual classroom libraries. We organize events that are designed not only to raise money for programs and such, but also to foster a sense of community among staff, parents and children. These events are staffed entirely by volunteers who dedicate countless hours because they care deeply about the community and the children. Local PTA also steps in when financial crises occur within our school family, providing school supplies, backpacks, spirit wear and other items to children in need. It is important to us that all children have an equal chance at success in school regardless of financial status.

Probably the most important, and certainly the most rewarding, thing we do as a local PTA is volunteer inside school. I have been an active PTA member for going on 11 years now and I have received many more blessings than I have ever given during my hours spent at the schools each week. Children seem to sense that you care about them when they see you around all the time. I have formed bonds with all sorts of children over the years and those bonds are special to me, to say the least. I know that I have made a difference, no matter how small; I have touched the lives of children and that makes me proud. Proud, not in a boastful way, but proud to be a part of something bigger than myself. One need only to go to a State (or National) Convention to understand the smallness of what an individual does compared to the bigger picture of the organization, but the sense of pride and community you get knowing you are but a small part of it is something that has to be experienced in order to be fully understood.

So, for all of those who believe that in the grand scheme of life, PTA is some triviality, scoff if you will, but you are dead wrong. PTA is not trivial; it is a strong, healthy force working diligently to make a successful educational community for every child in America. What bigger contribution is there than in the educational success of our nations children? Our future depends on it. And I, for one, will hold my head high as a proud member of this great PTA team.