Let me start this post out by saying that as an educator and parent the local PTA groups in the districts I am involved with are amazing. The volunteers of the PTA do so much to enhance the experiences of our children. We cannot thank active local PTA members enough for all they do for our schools.
I began this post back in October when I read about the New York State PTA President’s comments about the Opt Out movement and Lace to the Top initiative as being “negative”:
NYS PTA favors positive, constructive collaboration with decision makers. Although NYS PTA does not support negative campaigns such as Lace to the Top or Opt Out, NYS PTA recognizes the decision to do so is an individual one. - http://nysptapresident.blogspot.com/2013/10/all-great-change-belongs-at-dinner.html
I personally was outraged that the PTA President made such a blanket statement giving widespread condemnation to the growing movements advocating against the high-stakes testing impacting our children.
In November the NYS PTA President announced the series of PTA sponsored Common Core forums starring Commissioner John King were canceled because King faced a very critical audience in the Poughkeepsie. Once again it seemed as though the State PTA office was not willing to listen to parents. I paused writing this piece as other thoughts crossed my mind and the PTA conducted a poll of its membership asking for input on the Common Core and testing issues.
Maybe the PTA would change its tune?
The state education department put on a new series of forums across New York and a consistent message was heard: parents want less testing and have had enough of the Common Core. I guess the PTA choose not to pay attention despite the parent uproar and significant media coverage.
Today the NYS PTA released the results of its member survey. The poll results are not surprising, members are very concerned about the amount of testing and the impact of the Common Core.
A sample of the questions and responses:
A survey to more than 20,000 listserv subscribers for feedback on the CCI has been disseminated for the purpose of informing our work on behalf of our membership. – Monday October 8, 2013 post- http://nysptapresident.blogspot.com/2013/10/all-great-change-belongs-at-dinner.html
Yes, “informing our work on behalf of our membership” was the purpose of the survey. Despite the overwhelming concern about the Common Core and testing, the NYS PTA leaders will carry on with their support of the current reforms. So the point of the survey? Pretend the NYS PTA leaders are listening to their membership.
The survey summary trots out the same tired old education reform catch phrases of global competition, PISA scores, implementation of the Common Core. college and career ready. One would have to wonder if the New York State PTA is an administrative arm of the NYS Education Department.
But as with our national and state-wide unions, the PTA at its highest levels can lose touch with its members. I considered boycotting the PTA this year, but did not want to hurt the terrific PTA groups at the school where I teach and where my children attend. As I asked a few questions in the fall, I found out that approximately four dollars of my membership fee go to the National and State PTA organizations. Later I heard a suggestion that I could just donate my money to the local PTA. I would not be an “official member” but could keep my money with my local groups and not support the state organization.
It is time for action. I suggest one of the following:
1. Work to remove any leaders of the NYS PTA who do not support the membership.
2. Work to change your local PTA to a PTO organization. (Thanks Lace to the Top)
3. Donate your money to your local PTA instead of paying for a membership.
Ask your local PTA to sponsor an opt out discussion meeting as well.
I want my two dollars back from NYS PTA.
Connect with Chris Cerrone on Twitter: @StopTesting15