The Greenwich Parent Teacher Association Council ("PTAC") is revising its bylaws.
PTAC is the governing body for 8 elementary schools, 3 middle schools and the high school in the Greenwich Public School District.
PTAC is governed by the Connecticut State PTA, which is governed by the National PTA.
The Mission Statement for the National PTA is: Every Child. One Voice. PTA's equity-driven mission is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children.
PTA’s are invaluable. There is no question that kids do better when parents are engaged in their learning.
The PTA provides helpful programs on strengthening family-school partnerships and offers free resources for members on topics such as STEM, health, and safety. The PTA gives community members a way to get connected, and to learn what’s happening inside our schools. PTA functions provide opportunities to meet parents and teachers to share ideas, concerns and experiences.
Volunteering provides a way to give back to your child and all of the children in the community. It gives you a voice to suggest change. It plays an important role in building improvements through advocacy, and plays an important role in fundraising for curriculum-based programs and social events.
The Greenwich PTA has done amazing things for students and teachers. No one could disagree with that statement.
However, there comes a time when organizations may start to overstep their boundaries, and even lose sight of their mission. Unfortunately, we seem to be entering one of those times with PTAC.
It seems PTAC will be voting on new bylaws next week, which include, among other things a new set of objectives:
A. To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school, and throughout the community;
B. To raise the standards of home life;
C. To advocate for laws that further the education, physical and mental health, welfare, and safety of children and youth;
D. To promote the collaboration and engagement of families and educators in the education of children and youth;
E. To engage the public in united efforts to secure the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of all children and youth; and
F. To advocate for fiscal responsibility regarding public tax dollars in public education funding.
Does anything about the objectives seem unusual to you? Like perhaps the intrusion into home life described in Objectives A and B? Or what about using the community at large to "secure" the well-being of all children detailed in Objective E?
Let's take a closer look.
A. To promote the welfare of children and youth in home, school and throughout the community.
This is blatantly overstepping the boundaries. The PTA has no business entering into private homes. Parents do not need nor want a governing body like the PTA promoting anything inside the home. This is not something the PTA should want to do either, nor should this be listed as its first objective.
B. To raise the standards of home life.
Major overstepping once again. Who is the PTA to decide what home life standards should be? What are the standards based on anyway? Who decides what the standards will be? Who enforces the standards? Are there consequences of not living up to these unknown standards, and if so, what will those be? It’s a dangerously, perhaps intentionally vague statement.
E. To engage the public in united efforts to secure the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of all children and youth.
This statement is missing the most important piece -- education. It should be the number one part of the statement, but instead it's notably absent. PTA’s are supposed to represent parents, not try to replace parents.
Unfortunately, parents have already learned the hard way that GPS has made reports to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) as a way of making sure that parents comply.
Does this mean that PTA’s will now have the power to use similar tactics? Or to use other, not-yet-defined tactics to ensure parental compliance with the unwritten rules?
Who knows for sure, but you better start paying attention or else you just may find these seemingly well-intentioned volunteers invading your home right under your nose.