To PTA or not to PTA
Erin Zammett Ruddy confronts the worries associated with joining the PTA.
October 1st, 2012
04:11 PM ET

To PTA or not to PTA

By Erin Zammett Ruddy, Parenting

( - That is my question today. Are you involved in your kid's school? If so, how much? As a new mom in the district, I'm being pitched pretty hard by the PTA. And as a chronic joiner/doer/over committer, I'm intrigued. But I'm also wary.

Alex has been in school for a week now. On Monday I went to a breakfast put on by the PTA—I mostly went just to check it out (and to avoid my deadline) but I wound up signing up for six or seven committees. Ack! Many of these "committees" are really just one event that you might help with—a Mother's Day plant sale, say—so it's not that crazy. Right?

A form also came home in Alex's kindergarten folder to sign up to be the class mom. I remember my mom being the class mom a lot and I loved the security it gave me to know she was so entrenched in the system. She knew the teachers, she knew the other moms, the kids, the school. She was also the CCD teacher, the Girl Scout leader, the carpool driver and pretty much everything else you'd find under the overarching title of Kick-Ass Stay-At-Home-Mom. I don't have the time or desire to be that much of a super mom (for now), but I do want to be involved. And the PTA seems like a no-brainer, right?

Are you involved in the PTA? When did you get involved and what's your experience been like? Would love to hear your thoughts and any advice!

Please share your experience in the comments section below.

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Filed under: At Home • Practice
soundoff (3 Responses)
  1. Naomi

    From out West in Los Angeles -I finally went to a PTA meeting after a couple of year hiatus and was surprised that it was not so well attended and there were no teachers there. At a school where most of the parents work full-time we have our meetings around 5:30 or 6 pm. But, then the teachers don't want to stay that late after being at school since early in the morning, understandably. Schools with strong PTAs and/or PTOs are doing their best to fill in the gaps of monetary needs that public schools no longer get from our budget strapped state, but it is a lot more work than I remember my parents (read-mom) needing to do when we were kids. I actually recently wrote an entry in my new blog about going to this meeting, so I will share the link here.

    October 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
  2. truth365

    Khem I am also a NYC transplant now living in NC and I completely agree with your observations. The focus of the PTA seems to be very small, limited and short term. In the high schools it seems like the principal's major role is promoting the football team. But finding out about special programs or scholarship opportunities or even SAT prep is about being part of the right clique. Overall the system seems to promote a 'talented tenth' mentality that college preparedness is for a select few. That is unacceptable.

    October 3, 2012 at 7:32 am |
  3. Khem

    I'm from NYC, so PTA is governed differently than the National PTA non-for-profit. Now in NC I find that the parents are too much about the bake sale. They are about busy work and work hard for a small amount of funds to be used up by the end of the year. The National PTA advocates on our behalf or our children without much input or even asking me my opinion, so who knows what their telling legislators. PTA overall is an experience that has a lot of politics. These groups need to allow parents to work in the areas they want to and not force the agenda of the controlling parents. I realize that I don't have to be a member of the PTA to volunteer and help out so that is a relief. If I want to be a part of the elected positions then I have to work my way up and God forbid if there's a click in place. Its good to observe first and learn the players, understand the structure and the rules they play by. PTAs are so controlled by the principal that its sickening and parents don't have the freedom to share new ideas. Whatever you decide, make sure you are satisfied with what you contribute to your school and most importantly be there for all the children and your own child will be proud.

    October 2, 2012 at 11:53 pm |