PTAs on steroids

In light of the recent discussions on the plight of schools in Alameda and the various efforts being undertaken to find a solution, this NYT article makes for interesting reading. Perhaps some of these tactics might be relevant in Alameda?

Last month, the Scarsdale Middle School PTA in Westchester County began posting podcasts of meetings on the Internet as a way to reach more parents, while the PTO at Squadron Line Elementary School in Simsbury, Conn., now has its own reserved parking space at the school. (To raise money for the school playground, parents bid each month for the right to use it.)

And in the Washington suburbs, the Arlington Traditional School PTA developed training manuals with past meeting minutes, treasurer reports, and program evaluations for its six vice presidents last year.

High-powered PTA parents in Millburn organized an e-mail and letter-writing campaign last fall calling on state legislators to allow more local flexibility in school budgets and administrative services. And this month, PTA leaders for the Scarsdale schools met with their teachers’ union to discuss, among other things, a proposal that no homework be assigned during vacations.

As the article points out … all this comes at a price!

But as these corporatized PTAs have grown into powerful forces at many public schools, they have alienated some parents who say they have become self-important and make too many demands on members. There have also been conflicts with teachers, principals and local elected officials who chafe at being told how to run their schools by some parents with their own agendas and little experience in education.

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