The PTA Council recently released the 2011-2012 version of their handbook. This is my first exposure to the PTA Council Handbook, so I had no pre-set expectations. Apparently, it gives a very decent snapshot of “Whos’s who”, all the way from the Unit 4 Administration down to each school’s PTA (note that not every single employee is listed, just key players). This is good information to have, especially given my earlier effort to contact all the PTAs. A couple other things stuck out to me.
For one, here is the stated Mission Statement (taken from the National PTA Handbook):
“It is the council’s privilege and responsibility to help local units to function competently by giving their leaders opportunities to compare methods of work, to receive suggestions on procedure, to unite in common projects, and to cooperate along definite lines of work for the improvement of the conditions affecting the quality of life of children and youth.”
This sounds very honorable, very worthwhile. And yet…. how do I say this politely? I have trouble seeing the Council actually doing this. I readily admit that I first look at how a group communicates using online mediums and thus my “first impression” is formed on how a group networks with the wired community. This is a narrow focus, I get that. I confess. After having attended a few PTA Council meetings, I am still confused how this Mission is being implemented with the wider audience.
To stir the pot a little, I sent out an email to all PTA/school representatives that have been identified as having an interest in “media” and communications, most ostensibly in web pages (ie, facebook, google/yahoo groups, twitter, tumblr, hosted, etc). This was a list of people that I developed myself, after taking the time to contact each school and their associated PTA. I proposed a “Tech Committee”, with the desire to “help local units to function competently by giving their leaders opportunities to compare methods of work, to receive suggestions on procedure, to unite in common projects, and to cooperate along definite lines of work” for the improvement of parent and teacher engagement. (I did not say that verbatim in my email, but that is what I meant *grin*).
Another section that caught my attention and worth repeating here:
Why Support Your Champaign PTA Council?
- COUNCIL helps to further educate local PTA/PTSA officers through various programs on : child abuse, local publicity, Unit 4’s special programs, budget realignment, leadership and much more.
- COUNCIL provides an opportunity and forum for information exchanges between all Unit 4 PTAs.
- COUNCIL represents all the Unit 4 PTA units with monthly joint communications with the School Board.
- COUNCIL provides three votes for each PTA unit: Principal, President, and Appointed Representative.
- COUNCIL has representatives on many Unit 4 committees.
- COUNCIL participates in and is a link to the federal parenting lobby in Washington, D.C. through National PTA.
- COUNCIL represents your point of view, by sending delegates to the Illinois PTA Convention.
Champaign’s Council meets monthly. Council meetings provide excellent opportunities to have questions answered and make views known to key Unit 4 employees. Unit 4 administration is represented by central office and/or by building principals. The Council makes a statement to the School Board each month on issues of concern.
If you think about it, this is really an awesome architecture to have in place. The goals and ambitions of the PTA Council are excellent!
If I had a genie, I would make these three wishes:
- More and more community members would take advantage of these opportunities
- PTA (Councils, local units, national, etc) would be less business-like and more engaging
- The collaboration of community, teachers and Administration would funnel funding to areas most in need, foster a spirit of hope and cooperation, and demonstrate a society that realizes the importance of raising our kids with a holistic viewpoint
I think we have some very well-intentioned folks in the PTA. If anything, I hope to provoke and exacerbate those good intentions, to fan the flames! 🙂