Friday, June 18, 2010

Another PTA Bites the Dust

I have been involved with the PTSA of a nearby middle school since 2006. Sarah had been doing it alone for a year, but this school year (2006-2007) a bunch of moms showed up. We elected 4 officers. By the end of the year, one lady had moved her son to another school and dropped out. The next year another lady moved out of town. We were down to 2 officers, me and Sarah. The only other members were mostly teachers and staff. Our sons moved on to high school, but we were still there (2008-2009). This year, only a few teachers showed up at a meeting and parents complained that 3:30 was too early. So, we publicized a late meeting. The day of the meeting, the principal and librarian stayed late. No one else showed up. A lot of the teachers live out of town and didn't want to drive back. So, this year, 2009-2010 is our last.
The photo shows me presenting two envelopes to Beth, the head of the ASB for the school. All those bookfairs, box tops and labels paid off and we spent the money on the school. One check was for $500 for either a scoreboard or other items needed by the sports department. The other check was for $425 for the student body (dance, party, tshirts, food, etc. - whatever they needed or wanted). I also presented a check for $100 to the school nurse who runs the garden club. There was no garden club this year due to lack of funds. Next year, we will have a garden! When they get ready to weed the courtyard next September, I am on call for that.
The last check was for books. One teacher instills a real love of reading in his students. He encourages them to bring in box tops and labels, attended the book fairs, and filled out his wish lists (many parents bought books for his class, the PTA bought those on his wish list he still needed). Many of the teachers never filled out wish lists for the book fairs. The other students brought labels and box tops when we gave out free popcorn at lunch to those that filled up a box top page (with 10 box tops). This past year, the only box tops and labels I collected were from this teacher's class.
Many parents get very involved with PTA while their students are in elementary school. I guess a lot of mom's look forward to a break when their kids get into middle school. Many go out and get a job or get involved in some other volunteer work. I really wish more parents would get involved in PTA while their kids are in middle or high school. This is when kids lose interest in school, especially when their parents act like it doesn't matter. In our neighborhood, many single parents work at more than one job if they can. At this time, many parents are out of work and have to spend time looking for work. This affects kids at home as well as at school.
I was talking to my son about my generation and our expectations.  We watched a show called The Jetsons, and expected the future to resemble their world.  I said that we all expected to have flying cars by now. My son said the schools had to improve and if they did, in 10 or 20 years we could have a base on the moon and a colony on Mars (and flying or automated cars here). He is 16 now and I wonder what his future will look like.
Baby boomers are getting much older and worried that they won't be taken care of. For a while now, we have been spending more money on our generation than on the younger generation, including schools.  Seems like many laws are passed which impact the future in negative ways. What are we leaving our grandkids? How come no one thinks about the future and how our actions are affecting it? In America, we have lots and lots of lawyers and whenever something happens we try to find someone else responsible. We need to start accepting responsibility for all our actions and for our lack of actions also.
Are your middle schools or junior highs having similar problems with lack of parent involvement? Does your school have a PTA? Have you found something that worked to change it? I look forward to your comments.