The recent movie ‘Bad Moms’ portrays PTA members as overzealous, domineering women who plan elaborate bake sales. Binghamton PTA Council President Laura Warwick and Binghamton High School PTSA President Jennifer Taylor said these stereotypes can hamper parent participation. Besides – it’s just not true. Today’s PTA is your opportunity, as a parent or caregiver, to make a difference in the lives of children.
“There is a perception of what people feel a PTA is, and we have to be committed to dispelling the idea that it’s cliquish or you have to be a certain stereotype to be part of the PTA,” Taylor said. PTA’s work best when they reflect the composition of the community. Diversity of backgrounds and opinions help bring a rich blend of unique skills and perspectives to the PTA mission.
“We’re not a clique,” Warwick said. “Everyone is welcome.”
And then there’s all the research which clearly says: Students who have a parent who plays and active role in their school and education are more likely to succeed.
“A parent is the first teacher for their child and they continue to be the primary advocate for their student, so the more involved they are in the school, the more they are aware of the opportunities their students have and the more feedback they can provide to the school. Two-way communication always makes it better for the students and the community,” Taylor said.
Warwick said there are many ways for parents to get involved, whether it’s becoming a member of the PTA, volunteering to read in a classroom, or becoming a mentor.
“We don’t expect parents to attend every meeting,” she said. “Just offering up ideas can be helpful. It’s all about supporting the school community.”
Volunteering is also a great way for parents to see and learn more about what the school is doing. Warwick said that she sees a lot of participation and enthusiasm for PTAs and Booster Clubs in the elementary schools, but worries that participation wanes when the students reach the middle school. Warwick and Taylor agree that there is always a need for parental involvement on every level and through every stage of every child’s schooling.
“I don’t think a lot of parents understand that they have a role in the decision making process in our schools,” Taylor said. “We need to connect more with each other to make sure we understand the goals and make sure we are communicating with each other.” Warwick and Taylor say the best way to find out about getting involved is to contact the PTA or booster club in your child’s school. Contact information for building representatives is in the district calendar and on many of the school webpages.