Wednesday, February 19, 2014

PTA - Friend or Foe?

For years, the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) has placed themselves as the ultimate source for coordination between parents and teachers, ostensibly providing numerous ways in which to help engage parents in their child's education.  Most parents don't think twice about joining the PTA - after all, it's all about the kids.  Or is it?

Initially started as the National Congress of Mothers in 1897 in order to unite parents and educators in efforts that would promote the well being of children, the name was changed to the PTA in 1908.  In 1927, PTA began working with the International Bureau of Education and in 1946 they began membership on the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO. Though hitting a high of 12.1 million members in 1963, PTA's national membership has declined steadily since, falling to under 5 million.

Most parents join PTA to help their child's school, yet what most parents don't seem to be aware of, is PTA's association with the National Education Association.  This goes back to the 1920's when the PTA was actually headquartered in the NEA building in Chicago, Illinois.  Not merely a tenant, PTA actually had its own department within the NEA.  Though originally a professional organization run by school administrators, NEA became a union for teachers in 1960, shortly after PTA moved out and into a building of their own.

Charlene K. Haar, author of the book, "The Politics of the PTA" explains: 1968, the PTA Board of Directors--not the membership--set a policy declaring that, in teacher strikes, the PTA would not oppose the teachers and the teachers’ union.  This eliminated parental support for the administration....Parents still are interested in these other issues, but local PTAs can no longer provide any support to parents who wish to challenge union positions. In fact, a few years ago at the NEA convention, NEA President Keith Geiger reminded the PTA that its locals were bound by PTA policy not to challenge the teacher union positions in collective bargaining.
PTA began collecting dues in 1901 at a rate of $.05 per person.  Today, national dues are $25.00 and per person dues to each school PTA chapter are approximately $6.00.  Schools collect a small portion of those dues.  The larger portion is sent on to state and national PTA where dues are used mainly for 'advocacy' programs - lobbying.  In addition to dues, PTA collects funds via a number of advertisers, contributors and partners.

The money that pours into the national PTA has allowed it to evolve into a political animal and arm of NEA policy rather than a parent-driven, classroom-oriented, organic, association.  Even the Oklahoma PTA website has a direct link to our NEA affiliate, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), indicating these two organizations are never more than a mouse click away.

This should be particularly upsetting to Christians.  Over the years, the NEA has embraced an increasingly social liberal agenda that includes such things as the NEA Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Transgender Caucus which sponsored:
The NEA-Drag Queen Caucus (NEA-DQ) a national LGBT scholarship caucus fundraiser held in New Orleans summer 2010 for the NEA-RA...
In addition, the national PTA advocates against homeschooling and
...opposes mandatory or organized prayer or religious worship at official public school functions, whether led by a school official or student.
The National PTA also supports the Obama Administration view of education reform, including:
* Improve state longitudinal data systems and sharing of student data.
* Reject any proposal to divert public funding from public schools.
It's no surprise then to find that the National PTA (as well as the Oklahoma PTA) advocate for the Common Core State Standards to the point of advocating AGAINST those bills in the House to repeal the Standards.

Maybe the advocacy against Common Core (other than aligning with the desire of the Obama Administration to create national standards, testing and data bases) on the part of the PTA has to do with the very large grant given them by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to advocate FOR the Common Core.

In closing, it's easy to see that the national (top down) Parent Teacher Association has become like so many other iconic American starters - progressively liberal - too liberal for conservatives, and too anti-Christian world view to be palatable to Christians.

Parent Teacher Organizations are a far better choice by which to create communication and teamwork among parents and teachers.  PTO's are local associations run by parents and teachers inside individual schools (from the bottom up).  They keep the money they raise for their school and their autonomy over projects and fund raising.  Unfortunately, for Bill Gates, these are much harder to be bought off.