No one locally reads my blog, so I'm going to vent a little here. I know you love it when I do that. Sort of. Maybe.
Anyway, this year I am on our PTA board. I didn't volunteer to do it. I'm not that selfless. I agreed to do it because I was asked. And because no one else wanted to do it. In fact, no one wanted to be in any PTA position this year. The four of us who comprise the board pretty much did it because if we hadn't, our PTA would have been leaderless this year.
Colorado is crazy low in state funding for schools. Like 45th out of 50 or something like that. I looked it up several years ago and was appalled at how low it was. And yet we still moved here. Go figure. With that said, I love the school the boys go to. It's about 50 yards from our house; I like the teachers; I like the people we've met there; I don't mind giving my time (within reason) to be there and make it a better place. In addition to being on the board, I'm the PR chair, I'm on the Green Team, a part of which is the Healthy Food committe, which I co-chair. I provide food for teacher conferences and teacher appreciation week. I help set up and clean up for the meals we provide. I coordinate a team of people who provide treats for every teacher on their birthday. I volunteer at the school dances, either Eamonn or I chaperone field trips, and between the two of us, we attend and provide food or supplies for every class party. I volunteer at the big end of year party/festival. I'm also on a district committee to overhaul the school lunch program. Blah blah blah. I volunteer a lot. I do it because I think it's important, not because I want people to say, "Wow, she's a good volunteer." I do it because the school needs it. But it takes a lot of time.
And parents' time is what is needed. The school is good, but it, like any school, needs help from parents to make it great. It needs help from parents in a time capacity and a dollar capacity.
So as I said, our school funding isn't great anyway, but with all of the decreases in property taxes these past years (it's a trend that will continue), we've got to make up the difference somehow. We somehow have to help students pay for field trips--each year we receive more requests for financial assistance--help teachers provide materials for their classrooms, fund various curriculum like science and the greenhouse, etc. The money has to come from somewhere. And as much as I'd like to conjure it out of my. . .own wallet, I can't.
Our PTA meets once a month. There's always a lot to talk about--school safety, upcoming events, how money is being raised and spent, activities updates, etc. We try to have our meetings last no longer than 90 minutes, but sometimes they run long. I don't like that, but it's not like we're sitting around talking about doing our hair and nails--we're discussing what needs to be done and when to raise the money we need to provide our kids with the education and opportunities we'd like them to have.
Our meetings have low turnout. Lower than any other school in the district. Last month, the board and one other person was there. Please. The ridiculous thing is that we are the largest school in the district, other than the high school.
I was curious. So we developed an online survey and sent it out to parents. They still have another day to respond, but as of tonight, about 96 people have responded. Which is actually better than I expected (we have more than 480 students). So far, I'm the only one to have seen the results. And I feel annoyed. And I'm going to address some of the ridiculous answers here in a sarcastic and annoyed manner. I'm venting to you because I can't vent in this way to the people who wrote these things. Instead, I'll have to write them a nice letter addressing some of these issues. I'll have to say something like:
In the PTA survey, you indicated that having on-site childcare would encourage you attend PTA meetings. Good news! We do offer on-site childcare. We hire two babysitters at each meeting to entertain your children. So please come join us.
What I'd really like to say to address their many misconceptions, including childcare is:
Are you fricking kidding me? Clearly you haven't opened your child's backpack or read an e-mail from the school yet this millenium because if you did, you wouldn't have responded "The PTA does not keep me informed of its meetings or activities." We sent home flyers. We posted signs. We sent e-mails. The principal puts it in her newsletter and on her e-board. And still, you do not come to meetings. You accused us of wasting paper, so we switched to e-mails and a sandwich board in front of the school. And yet, you do not come. Please tell us what you need. Door-to-door solicitation? A tattoo on your child's forehead? Maybe we should drive through the neighborhood with a bullhorn at midnight? You tell me what works for you because I'm just sitting around waiting to do EXACTLY WHAT YOU NEED. And as for childcare? We've offered that for years. All I have to say to that is DUH. Read the flyer/e-mail/notice board/the principal's e-board. Should I go on about all of the different ways you can read this information that we basically force feed you?
I loved your suggestion that there should be more working moms and dads on the PTA board. I do wonder how much more they should work? Our president works two jobs. Our VP works two jobs. I work two jobs. Our treasurer must be a slacker though--she only works one job. Yes, we are all moms. How strange. Oh wait, no dads even come to the meetings. We put up a big DADS sign on the door with a Ghostbusters symbol on it. Do you think that drives them away? We should probably stop doing that.
To the person who commented, "I heard people don't get along at the meetings." I don't even know how to address that. No one is strapping on the boxing gloves and duking it out. Although I think that sounds like fun. Do we always agree? No. But I can't think of a single example in the 3 1/2 years my kids have been here that things got out of hand, or even became disrespectful. I don't know what happened in the past, but maybe if you came to a meeting instead of talking about what you heard, you could make a decision for yourself.
To the people who commented they don't like the current leadership, then get off your ass, come to a meeting and volunteer to be a part of the leadershp team yourself. If you're not a part of the solution, you're part of the problem. I hate it when people spout cliches.
To the people who commented it seems like it's the same group of people doing all PTA activities, well, yeah! It's because no one new seems willing to volunteer. I do realize that at the beginning of the year, you filled out that questionnaire saying you'd help with X, Y, Z event. Well, maybe when we e-mail you, you could actually respond and agree to help instead of not answering.
To the people who commented we're clickish and political, my response is how do you know? I didn't even know the other people on the board before we started working on this together. We don't hang out. We've grown to like each other as we've worked together, but we're not friends. Our only common thread is PTA and realizing there wasn't anyone else who was willing to do this stuff.
To the person who said PTA dismisses ideas and doesn't listen. Are you the same person who says that PTA doesn't know when to stop discussing something and let it lie? Let's decide--are we over or under-analyzing things? When someone brings up an idea and we don't accept it, after much discussion, why do you think that is? Do you think maybe it's because we've been living and breathing this stuff 24/7, know all of the background, history, and financial issues involved, and maybe you don't because you just came to this meeting for the first time? Like when you suggested there should be a Spanish program. You mean like the one that's offered after school? That's not to say we're not interested in new ideas--we are. We'd love it if people had ideas instead of just coming in and being critical when they've never even been to a meeting before. Or paid attention to anything the school sends home.
Many of you said you don't have time to be involved. Seriously? Because, I do. I have oodles of time to spend doing unpaid work when I should be making a living. And really? You don't have one hour a month to help chaperone a dance that will raise money for YOUR CHILD to take a field trip or have an assembly or get a new science book? You'd rather be home on the couch instead of chaperoning a dance? Guess what? Me, too. Because as much as I'd like to say I LOVE to spend all my time at the school, I don't. And I feel resentful that you ATTEND PTA events with your children, but you can't seem to volunteer for even a 20 minute shift to help out and take the burden off the same 15 people who always volunteer because they know if they don't do it, no one will.
Maybe PTA should just disband. Maybe when your child's teacher submits a request for 20 students to attend a science/nature hike with the science school, we should shrug and say we're out of money because no one would help. During Teacher Appreciation week, we'll have to tell teachers no one volunteered to bring a meal, or set up, or clean up. We can just order pizza for them like we had to last time. But wait, we can't order pizza because we're out of money. They can brown bag it. That's the way to show our appreciation.
In the survey, you indicated that you see PTA as important to our school. Then act like it. Because the same 15 parents cannot keep shouldering the burden for the rest of you. We work. We have kids in sports. We have to make dinner. Our kids have to get to bed. All of it. So my response to those excuses? Boo Frickin' Hoo. Unless you're a single welfare parent working three jobs and raising five kids by working the night shift at a factory, you've got no excuse. If it's important to you, you'll make it work. You're tired. I'm tired. We're all tired. Some of us are even sick and tired. But if each person volunteered just one hour a month, maybe we'd all be a little less tired.
This free education that you love, and take advantage of, in the district's top school? It ain't free. It costs time, it costs money, it costs a little blood, sweat and tears now and then. Someone somewhere is working THEIR ass off so your kid can have these things that make our school so great. So instead of casting around petty accusations about what you THINK or what you HEARD goes on, maybe get off your ass and come see for yourself. And if you don't like it, do something about it instead of bitching via an anonymous survey. Want to come in and overthrow the current leadership board? Bring it. We'll hand you the keys to the castle as we run to our cars shouting, "So long, sucker!" It's a thankless job and frankly, all we get is grief. Hello--we are VOLUNTEERS, not your paid servants, not your whipping boys (girls). You think you can do it better? To a person, I think we'd all say you're welcome to it, so put your money where your mouth is.
So, see you at the next meeting, Big Talker?
Wow. I don't even have PMS. Just think if I had written this then!