Sunday, March 15, 2009

Let's rename the PTA, PTO, and HSA

Leaders of Parent Teacher Associations and Organizations and Home and School Associations tell me that it's not their role to hear, let along act upon, parent concerns about the school curriculum.

Some of these leaders seem surprised that we parents even think we should have any influence over the curriculum.

It seems that many of us are laboring under antiquated impressions of the parent-teacher organizations that date back to that era when our own parents were involved: those long-ago days when such organizations dared to let parents express concerns about what children were learning in school.

If they now want to quell such awkward remarks at their public meetings, PTA, PTO, and HSA leaders should rename their organizations to make their 21st century missions entirely clear. If these missions consist, entirely, of baking cookies, stuffing envelops, chaperoning field trips, helping teachers manage child-centered, cooperative learning groups, and organizing teacher-appreciation days, then a better name might be: Parent Volunteer Organization.

In other words, let's stop pretending that parents have any role in public education other than to further enable teachers to do what they and their supervisors have already decided is the best way to educate our children.

5 comments:

Mrs. C said...

Reason number 3420 to homeschool. And you are so right about the curriculum. I looked into being on one of those curriculum selection committees. But what happens is that you get a choice of textbooks to look at and then you compare them to the stupid "Show Me Standards." Wowwww. I can spend my time so much more productively than rubber-stamping the crap the school wanted to buy anyway.

What. Ever.

PS Quit the PTA after finding out about what it advocates at the national level. My dues are *so* not going to support that stuff.

lefty said...

Thanks, Mrs. C. I'm curious what you found out about the PTA at the national level. Please tell more!

Anonymous said...

As someone who studies non-stop (almost literally) education and psychology, I am often amazed at the arrogance of everyone thinking that they are educators. I believe in professional educators unencumbered by those who would like to inform the experts. Doesn't mean that opinions don't count. However, teachers are undermined daily by those who have no education in education and very little experience trying tell them how to do their jobs. No wonder we don't take teachers seriously enough to pay them enough. This over-democratization of education is killing our schools.

lefty said...

If teacher training courses trained teachers in real cognitive science research and in the academic subjects they later teach, and if the curriculum teachers use were up to the academic standards followed by schools in other developed countries, then parents would be more willing to defer to the judgment of teachers.

Mrs. C said...

This alone should scare you. The PTA wants national standards. They want increased funding for schools... more health services and meals though schools... more public dependence on schools (ok, that last part not quite clearly stated. Yet.)

If math is bad in some districts now, wait until they implement the "national standards" they want that would:

"Require the U.S. Department of Education to establish
performance standards, benchmarks, measures, and compliance
monitoring procedures that will support states, districts, and
schools in the implementation and evaluation of effective family
engagement practices and policies."

As a homeschool parent, I would *so* not want any stupid bureaucrat "monitoring" my "effective family engagement practices and policies" in my homeschool. (Whatever that means... LOL. Link here: http://www.pta.org/Documents/PTA_PublicPolicyPDF_final.pdf)

As a social conservative I am also leery of PTA on a national level advocating "anti-bullying" of homosexuals. How about just being "anti-bullying?" Do we need to educate our students in sex ed and "diversity?" (The PTA has also come out in support of "civil rights" in terms of sexual orientation, and other position papers, here: http://www.pta.org/individual_poisition_statements.asp)

Can we just stick with the academics and quit the self-esteem and empowering fluffy stuff? Aren't we as a nation divided enough over this stuff without their having to take a position on it and alienate people like me they'd WANT to be engaged positively with schools?

The role of the parent and the state is increasingly blurred in public education and the role of the PTA... well, it's lockstep with the NEA which is enough for me not to join, thanks. :]

That being said, I do appreciate my older children's public school. I like almost all the teachers there. It would be nice if parents had a genuine say in the curriculum and the dues money went ONLY to the local school to be spent on local programs. I still don't "get" what schools receive for joining national PTA except for the logo and name recognition.

PS Sorry it took me so long to respond. It took me a while to dig up links. :]