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Ideas for Parent involvement with PTO


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julcan_79 August 4, 2009


We had our first PTO meeting last night for the new school year, and unfortunately we had no parents (other than those elected as officers) show up.   This is the same response we have gotten for the last 2 years.   We have cut the activities that PTO supports almost in half.  If we don't get any involvement from other parents, our school will no longer have the PTO as the few of us can't do everything.  Does anyone have any ideas on what to do? 


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MagnetMom September 24, 2009


stayinformed,

Did your group do anything to encourage the teacher's participation? At my daughter's school, one teacher (or sometimes more than one), has that as their adjunct duty, so they attend. Additionally, as some of the teachers have their children attending the school, it's nice when they wear dual hats of teacher and, say dine out coordinator.

Our school is strapped for funds, so we're one of those PTOs that hopes to raise money each year to pay for things that used to be commonplace but are now luxuries--field trips, art, music, PE teachers, assemblies, and the like. But like the diversity of our suburban Los Angeles school, we're a true melting pot of accents, skin tones, and experiences. I couldn't ask for a better school or a better group of people to work with.

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Crissleigh September 25, 2009


stayinformed,
How many times have you been a member or officer on your schools PTO ? If it was you first year you may have had high expectations of what the PTO dose .As far as the national PTO helping get members they may have tips on how to get them but that is really up to PTO officers and other members .We have a great turn out of teachers at our meetings at least 50 to 80% but we are a small school .Now parents are what we lack . Yes PTO is the main fund raisers at most schools and that is for a good reason . At my sons school the PTO pays for field trips ,Class parties ( we have 75 students total and 1 party can cost about $300.00),Needs for teachers & students that are no longer provided in school funding and we pay for all incentive activities for the kids all year long . Most PTO s spend a lot of money on the students all year .If one fund raiser dose not go well money wise you are left with 2 choices let the kids do with out or run a another one .
As far as diversity all parents should be welcome as far as that goes regardless of race ,gender , or religion .The more points of view you have at a meeting can really help some times . Our school dose not have a lot of students so no we do not have a lot of diversity race or religion wise but I feel every is welcomed at our meetings and I love for parents to come and give ideas and opinions .
Maybe you need to talk to your schools PTO leaders and ask them about the teacher involvement and how they try to get teachers involved and ask about any other concerns you have . You may be able to bring new ideas to the table that could really help them out .

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Crissleigh September 25, 2009


stayinformed,
How many times have you been a member or officer on your schools PTO ? If it was you first year you may have had high expectations of what the PTO dose .As far as the national PTO helping get members they may have tips on how to get them but that is really up to PTO officers and other members .We have a great turn out of teachers at our meetings at least 50 to 80% but we are a small school .Now parents are what we lack . Yes PTO is the main fund raisers at most schools and that is for a good reason . At my sons school the PTO pays for field trips ,Class parties ( we have 75 students total and 1 party can cost about $300.00),Needs for teachers & students that are no longer provided in school funding and we pay for all incentive activities for the kids all year long . Most PTO s spend a lot of money on the students all year .If one fund raiser dose not go well money wise you are left with 2 choices let the kids do with out or run a another one .
As far as diversity all parents should be welcome as far as that goes regardless of race ,gender , or religion .The more points of view you have at a meeting can really help some times . Our school dose not have a lot of students so no we do not have a lot of diversity race or religion wise but I feel every is welcomed at our meetings and I love for parents to come and give ideas and opinions .
Maybe you need to talk to your schools PTO leaders and ask them about the teacher involvement and how they try to get teachers involved and ask about any other concerns you have . You may be able to bring new ideas to the table that could really help them out .

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laiegirl September 26, 2009


As the Parent Facilitator at my child's elementary school and a former Parent Teacher Community Organization (PTCO) President, I know the feeling and can empathize with your frustration. You have to constantly remind yourself that actvities, functions and fundraisers are organized with our children in mind. I've organized parent trainings on homework, reading, math and maybe six parents show up. Usually, they're the parents that don't need the help. So, this year I'm going to try to keep all my parent/family activities on the same day of the month. (eg:3rd Thursday) I'm planning monthly activities: morning workshops, or afterschool workshops, or evening workshops, or parent lunches (where parents come to eat lunch with their child and I plan to walk around to hand out bags of chips or rice krispie treats and meet the family), or family movie night in the cafeteria, then parents who work and can't come to a morning workshop can make it next month to the family movie night. I want parents to get involved in their child's educaion and be more willing to participate in our activities. I'm also putting something in the monthly school newsletter with a section for parents to respond. I award the child a pencil or an eraser for returning the parent response section. Then the chid encourages the parent to participate. I've only had two activities this new school year and the numbers are improving but the parents I'd like to see at these activities are still MIA.

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stayinformed September 26, 2009


Crissleigh,
Ive actually been a PTO member for 17 years and although it was my first year as a boardmember for this school, Ive been on the leadership for various PTO for about 8 years. I am glad that PTO is working better for your school.

In a perfect world leadership should be open to change. However it is always met with resistance. In an economic time such as this, schools can better use parents as strateic assets. As parents we bring a great deal of knowledge, skills and wisdom. Unfortunately, many schools are functioning from a "Bake sale" model for parent participation. Too bad.


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stayinformed September 26, 2009


MagnetMom:
I am so excited to hear what is going on in your PTA. Yeah! I must say in all my years with PTA (CA and GA) this has been one of the worse PTA and school environments Ive seen. The school has high API scores and I fear that parents do not understand that there are so many other things, like parent-teacher relations, opportunities for involvement and school culture that makes a school good.

Did you see this study? Herrold, K., & O'Donnell, K. (2008). Parent and family involvement in education, 2006-07 (NCES 2008-050). Retrieved August 28, 2009, from http://http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2008/2008050.pdf

parents are concerned about parent-school staff interactions and teachers. Why isnt PTA being used as a mechanism to help start the conversation about this?

PTA cannot just make the agenda and tell people to come work it.

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Mari5210 September 26, 2009


I also have been involved in PTA at our elem. school for 6 years. Some years went good but most did not. The problem I saw was women who were so inmature it was a real problem. They also make it clear who was not welcome "in" with them. I did not let them bother me though. You are there for YOUR child and YOUR school. YOU are only hurting others by not joining and participating. Lets face it girls the government does not give our schools all that they need and the PTA is an important part of getting them what they need through the dreaded fundraisers, etc. Also our teachers do need our support and help in the classrooms. At times the room size is just awful per teacher/student ratio and it really makes it hard on both the children and teachers. And there are alot of undisciplined children who go to our schools and think that they can do whatever they want and they interrupt our childrens learining in the class. I do believe that the elementarty teachers need more help in their classrooms than middle or high schools.

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stayinformed September 29, 2009


Mari5210
You raise a great point, teachers need our help and we need them. At our school, where the PTA has been very exclusive, many teachers will not have parents or any volunteers in class. I see it most often with the novice teachers. So what would you say to teacher who tell parents they cannot volunteer in class? Besides the fact that it is against No Child Left Behind and IDEA....it is unethical. Ive been an elementary teacher and I cannot relate to the dis-connect between school and families.
What idea do you have...How would you approach this...exclusive PTA, lack of teach-parent collaborations and Discipline is an entirely different thing.
I do not believe there are any children ages 0-8 that want to be unruly. I believe that adults need to teach children how to regulate their emotions and this is what school, home and the community is for. There is more than enough research that tells us children 0-8 have difficulties regulating and it is the adults jobs to
model, explicitly teach (puppets, role-playing, story-telling, art) appropriate behaviors. What often happens is the classroom set-up and expectations are not developmentally appropriate. Culture is a factor also. So just because there are standards does not mean we teach kids like little adults, we teach them the way they learn the standards, then you will see many of the behaviors disappear.
Also, schools do a poor job overall supporting, praising and practicing good behaviors. We seem to focus on the one that is misbehaving.

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Mari5210 September 29, 2009


Stayinformed,
Gosh, the kids who are in that class either are really good kids or she has some kind of a issue. We did have 1 teacher like that and the only thing any of us could figure out was that she had been in the military and was very disciplined and she had a routine and did not like for it to be altered. She did ask for help when she really needed it though. I would go and talk to her and see why she did not need any help from the moms. Our PTA worked really hard and we were able to get every teacher a new laptop computer and our computer wiz dads set them up and installed everything for them. We did have several teachers who did not join the PTA but when they found out you did not get your gift cards, etc. unless you were a member they were real fast in getting us their $5.00 to join. All I can say is not to hold it against her for not wanting your help. If the kids love her and she is good to them I really do not think it is that big of a issue. Just let her know that you will do whatever she needs if she does need your help at anytime and give her your home phone number just in case. I know from
personal experience to never rely on others who say they are going to help get a project done. I have been burned too many times. I go to a school now that wants no parents to do anything in the school but PTA and raise money so it has been an real adjustment for me. Also the teachers are real hard on the kids and not nice to them at times. I do not like this and am about to go and have some meetings with them. So good luch to you and your PTA. We are our kids future and we need to get involved in all that concerns them and it does not matter whose toes we may have to step on if they are somehow hindering our childs growth and learning! It is a parents duty to protect their child from bullying, etc.

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JLloyd September 29, 2009


So what would you say to teachers who tell parents they cannot volunteer in class?

I would address with the principal and the Board of Ed members. (I would invite to your officer meeting) to find out why this strange behavior is being exhibited by teachers and what is going on in the classroom that parents are not welcome. I would hate to have my mind wander to awful thoughts about this type of behavior. Perhaps and only perhaps this behavior is not known and can be corrected (identify teacher(s) with this attitude) don't bash (which I would love to do) just express what parents have told your PTA about this behavior. Once you've met with the appropriate school officials and they have to investigated your PTA's complaint because it is against the law. While you're waiting for the school officials to get back to your PTA with a concert explanation as to why this bizarre behavior is being demonstrated at your school. In the mean time your PTA should set up if not already planned a "Parent Meeting" specifically to parents with complaints to targeted teachers who don't want "volunteers" or "room parents" in their classrooms at that meeting. Attendance does not have to be that great, but it would be very helpful if targeted staff who is suspect be challenged. At the meeting invite the principal, vice principal, physiologist any children's therapist in order for them to hear what and why the parents are upset about not being able to visit their children's classrooms as volunteers or room parents.
Have a big poster with the NCLB verbiage at the meeting. Not sure how successful you'll be but one the school and board are aware that this is an issue (big at that) they will have to do something about it or otherwise be out of compliance and then the commissioner should be brought up to date with this issue. How dare they!



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