I certainly don’t object to stay-at-home moms – or stay-at-home dads – playing an active role in the PTA. But I do object to stay-at-home parents making it more difficult for other parents to participate. I am familiar with one grade school in Austin where PTA leaders do this, intentionally or not, by scheduling all PTA meetings during the work day, making it impossible or extremely difficult for most working parents to attend.
Because some stay-at-home parents from one-income families are more affluent than many other parents, this raises a potential difference in a local PTA’s economic perspective. And, that difference becomes more critical on campuses that are undergoing significant demographic and cultural changes.
One of these schools (there are many) is Huffman Elementary in Plano ISD, the subject of a Dallas Morning News article linked below. The story, which may be behind a paywall, tells how parents at Huffman have recognized the inclusive role the PTA must play for student success and the steps they have taken to accomplish it.
Huffman used to serve almost exclusively an affluent student body. But in recent years, a growing number of subsidized apartments has created an influx of working families and single mothers into the neighborhood. Consequently, students at the school now are mostly minority and low-income.
“But despite the changing demographics, some felt the school’s PTA reflected only one type of parent: affluent stay-at-home moms,” the newspaper reported.
That began to change when the PTA took steps to ensure that all parents were included. A bilingual survey of parents was conducted, and the PTA began sending out invitations to school events in both English and Spanish. The PTA also started scheduling meetings so that working parents could attend.
Parental involvement increased, and Huffman earned recognition from the national PTA as a School of Excellence, one of only 11 in Texas to receive the honor this year.
“In many ways, Huffman is a microcosm of Plano ISD, which has become more economically and racially diverse in recent years,” the Dallas News wrote.
Huffman is a microcosm of the entire Texas public school system, where Hispanic and African American students outnumber Anglos and most students are from low-income families. Parental involvement – the involvement of all parents – is crucial to student success, and local PTAs must take steps to ensure that all parents have a chance to participate.