My Quest To Find Out More About the PTA

BY  |  Thursday, May 10, 2012 2:30pm  |  COMMENTS (31)

National PTA logo

I’ll be honest. As a working mother who helps out in her daughter’s class and at school events as much as she can, but not a member of the PTA, it feels like the PTA is a secret club. The Montclair PTA websites are not currently updated with meeting info, minutes or archived emails, so knowing what’s going on in the PTA is difficult unless you are in the PTA and going to the meetings. But just because you aren’t, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a right to the information.

In my quest to find out more about the PTA process and how it’s run, I found a few things and learned a good lesson. The real lesson is that if want to be completely informed, you need to be a member of the PTA and attend all the meetings. Also, PTA Board members work their patooties off. It’s a full time job.

Here’s the lesson I hope that all the PTAs will learn from me. Try very hard to be more transparent and make sure to give all parents, whether through email or flier, all information throughout the year. That’s the best way to make parents feel that they are welcomed and want to get involved, which will fill the PTA positions with a diverse, hard-working group of parents who can do a lot for our schools.

So without futher ado, here’s what I learned on my quest to find out more about the PTA:

1) Some parents feel intimidated by the PTA 

  • Since my daughter started elementary school three years ago, I’ve heard this from many parents. Some feel like they aren’t welcomed or that if they do attend, their voices aren’t heard.

2) The majority of the PTA Board members were not forthcoming when I asked for information.

  • Some never responded to my emails. Others questioned why I was asking information and whether I was asking other schools too. I was also asked if I had a child in a particular school, but according to the NJ PTA bylaws (pages 22/23), “Everyone is welcome and anyone who is interested in schools and children may join his/her neighborhood PTA and is eligible to hold office, even though he/she has no children in school. Members of PTA work for the one common interest – the welfare of children and youth everywhere.” But I have to thank those who were immediately responsive and open with their answers. There were a few.

3) There seems to be no consistency or uniform way that PTA’s are filling Executive Board positions.

  • The NJ PTA Bylaws have a very specific instructions how nominations and elections should be held in its Nominations, Voting and Elections Guide. But after hearing back from PTA members from different Montclair Schools, I found that the way these PTAs are nominating and voting for positions is varied.
  • I’ve been told by a few PTA members that the Executive board is usually made up of a President, but often there are co-Presidents, a treasurer, a communications secretary and two recording secretaries. Each of these positions does a two-year term. Many schools do indeed have co-presidents, but according to the NJ PTA bylaws (page 22), “New Jersey PTA does not recognize co-presidents on the local PTA level and will not approve local PTA bylaws that include provision for that title.
  • Each school should have a Nominating Committee, who searches for interested parents who may want a Board position or a committee position. According to the bylaws, this is an important job and should be done in a specific manner. At my daughter’s school, this is the first year that I can remember having received a form from the Nominating Committee announcing the upcoming openings and allowing parents to apply for a position. (Note: I’d been advised that the forms were sent out in previous years.)
  • Some PTA board members told me they already chose their nominees back in February. Some are doing it now and are ready to hold the vote. But it seems that voting is done at a meeting and is usually presented in this fashion: Board announces the nominees for the new Board positions and asks everyone if they approve. If no one stands up and speaks against a member, then it’s official. So let’s say that you are in fact, not happy with the person who wants to take the President position. Do you stand up in front of that person and all the other members and say so? That’s a sure way to get shunned and make enemies. Shouldn’t the voting be done privately by ballot? Isn’t that a more fair and accurate way to choose Board members?
  • According to the Montclair Council PTA bylaws, “No member shall be eligible for the same office for more than two consecutive terms.  In the event that the Nominating Committee is unable to find a member willing to be nominated for a particular position, the member holding a particular office for two consecutive terms is eligible for that office for a third consecutive term.” But, I’ve been told some Presidents have held office for much longer.

So who can be a PTA President? According to one PTA president, “All officers and members must be members of our PTA for at least 15 days and of “good standing.” Good standing basically means they haven’t done anything that has contravened PTA bylaws. The bylaws at school, state and national levels are basically the same and not too complicated and meant to preserve the charity status of school PTAs.”

Anyone can attend any PTA meeting, but you can only vote if you are a member. In Montclair, all you have to do to become a member is pay your dues, which are $7, vary by school.

I sent an email to the PTA Council presidents, asking for information on how the Board positions are filled to the, but received no response at all. I sent the same email to all the school PTA presidents. Here are the responses I have received to date:

Hillside School PTA:

At Hillside, we’ve been regularly sending emails to our families asking if they’d like to help on our committees, and we wrote to our sister school Nishuane’s PTA, too, requesting that our recruitment letter be emailed each week to families there (aimed at graduating second-graders’ parents). Only executive officers need to be voted in, and that will happen at our final PTA meeting on May 30, 9:30am. The officers comprise the two presidents, treasurer, two recording secretaries and communications secretary. The officer candidates are sought out by our nominating secretaries, who talk to them about what the jobs entail and whether there’s a good fit both ways. Voting on these officers will happen at the May 30 meeting. If there are many candidates for one job, ballot voting is done; if there’s one candidate, just a voice vote is sufficient (on an Aye, Nay basis). Committee chairs – no voting needed – are picked based on their interest and, if possible, relevant experience or skills, and others keen may also help on those committees as members. We welcome and encourage parents and carers from all Montclair communities to join us on Hillside’s PTA.

Mt. Hebron School PTA:

We’ve been email blasting out open positions to all families and encouraging them to get involved in any way they can.  We also blast email reminders to attend the PTA meetings and announce open positions (small and large) at the PTA meetings.  If you’re interested and committed the PTA’s are dying to have you help! I have 4 children in the system and my experience at the elementary, middle and high school level is that if you’re interested and committed the PTA’s are dying to have you help!

I have never noticed (at any of the schools we’ve attended) if there is or isn’t an official vote to fill these positions. We haven’t had multiple candidates sign up for the same role, so a vote hasn’t been necessary.

Charles H. Bullock School:

At Bullock, our nominating committee made a school wide search for our open officer positions, which were co-Presdients, treasurer, and secretary, back in January, presented them to the general PTA meeting in February, and we voted on 5/1. So we have filled our officer positions, but we have lots of openings for committees. We always do. We don’t vote on committee heads. It is a challenge to fill those positions, and we don’t ever have the problem of having two people duking it out for a position.

On our site, we typically have a “how can I help” button and then we put the committee list up with openings in red. We haven’t updated that list yet, but we will be over the next 2 weeks. We plan to do a big drive for volunteers at our CHB Family Fair on Friday, June 8th.
We need parent volunteers for our visiting artist program, our afterschool fundraisers (on early dismissal days), a photographer, event planning, newsletter, and more.

I think families are under the impression that the PTA has all the volunteers it needs, but that is not so. We always need more help. Many or most of our volunteers are working parents, so they often need to share their role with other parents. It is a balancing act, but our hard work pays off. We try to spread the word that our PTA is an open, flexible group that is open to volunteers even if they are only available to cover a shift at one event, or help make copies of newsletters once or twice a year.

Watchung School:

Watchung School PTA makes every attempt to keep our decisions as inclusive and transparent as possible in hopes that everyone who wants to be a part of things has the opportunity.

Watchung PTA hosts a “first day of school” coffee each year where all parents/caregivers are invited to attend with sign-up sheets for every active committee.  An email from the PTA President is sent to the general population for anyone unable to attend the coffee even and participate on committees.

Parents/caregivers that have chaired committees, volunteered at various or actively participated in activities, may be asked by the PTA President, Advisory Chairperson or Executive Board member to sit on the PTA Executive Board or take over as the incoming PTA President.

A Watchung school-wide email is sent at the end of each school year and at the beginning of each new school year by the PTA President asking each parent/caregiver for interest in chairing any unfilled committee positions.

A voting meeting is held at the end of the school year and at the beginning of each new school year. PTA members are asked to vote on all incoming positions.

Ultimately our PTA is as strong as the involvement of the parent body, and we hold events and functions based on the simple fact, “do we have a committed person willing to step up and Chair the event?”  At Watchung we have a strong tradition of parent and teacher involvement, so our PTA is continually growing and thriving. It’s a fun place to be!

Renaissance Middle School:

At Renaissance (and I think at at least some of the elementary schools, because we “learn” PTA at the elementary schools), we put together a 3-person nominating committee in February I think.  We also spoke with the Principal and teachers to see if they could suggest any parents that they’ve seen or know of that they would recommend for more involvement in the PTA.  Then we all (nominating committee, outgoing Exec. Brd members, other long-time PTA members)  just started reaching out — at our events and in our email blasts — to ask people to consider getting involved or suggesting an involvement that seemed like a good fit for that person. (Actually, the Executive Board has talked to parents who looked interested in getting more involved all year long — never too early to start!)  Some people contacted the nominating committee directly, but we also made direct contact with others who were recommended.

We have a pretty thorough list of the PTA Exec. Brd/events/fundraising/administrative functions/liaison positions that need to be filled as well as their corresponding job descriptions so people get a sense of what the job entails.  Our nominating committee completed their work and we presented the Executive Board slate –Two Co-Presidents(technically one President and one VP, for paperwork purposes with NJPTA), Treasurer, Corresponding Sec., Recording Sec.)–at our April meeting; we just voted on the Executive Board slate last night at our May meeting. (They were elected.) The transition between outgoing-incoming Executive Board has already begun (Tom Knoth, who had expressed interest in Co-Pres spot has already represented Renaissance at a couple of PTA Council meetings that none of us were free to attend), but will do so in earnest now, with the new folks attending our Executive Board meetings and meetings with our principal.   Most of the other job assignments are also filled; there are a few open ones that can wait until Fall.

Best way to get on a committee?  Attend a meeting or event and get involved, or, if your schedule makes it difficult to do that, contact the PTA President about positions that work with your schedule — I’m sure there’s a spot for anyone that is interested!

Northeast School:

The first day of school there are sign up sheets for all PTA events taking place in that school year….folks sign up to participate in those activities (either to Chair or serve on committees).  In addition, throughout the year, the PTA puts out a call for volunteers for Board positions and committees through our biweekly newsletter and at general PTA meetings….the current PTA Board recommends a slate for the coming academic year’s PTA Board at our last PTA mtg in the end of May.  At that time there is a vote to approve the slate.

Nishuane School:

A letter that will go out to all Nishuane parents asking if any are interested in serving on the Nishuane PTA board for the 2012-2013 school year. The letter will ask interested parents to contact the Nomination Committee. We will be responsible for answering questions about any of the roles and responsibilities. We will then send a ballot home with the names of all the parents that have decided to run for a board position, so parents can vote through paper ballot. Once the votes are all in we will tally up the votes and announce the final members voted in at a PTA meeting and through other communication channels.


  1. POSTED BY Kristin  |  May 10, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

    Useful for Montclair Parents. Thanks! Although, not being in the “system” yet, I find it hard to believe that people would be intimidated. Will someone tell me to wait outside if I show up in my socks and sandals?

    Happily, now I have the Harper Valley PTA song in my head. Fun!

  2. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  May 10, 2012 @ 3:46 pm

    This is gonna be a great loop. I expect a lot of spirited discussion.

  3. POSTED BY bebopgun  |  May 10, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

    Very interesting story. Please come to Bloomfield, you will find a different picture. We asked for nominations to the local Home & School Association (not called PTA in Bloomfield, because not all the kids have parents taking care of them) at my daughter’s school and we couldn’t fill all the positions…yet. We’re still looking for a Treasurer and Veep.

  4. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 10, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

    Board announces the nominees for the new Board positions and asks everyone if they approve. If no one stands up and speaks against a member, then it’s official.

    Wow, just like the Politiburo.

  5. POSTED BY deefs  |  May 10, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    Your points 1 and 2 I don’t understand. From the responses it appears that the schools are hungry for volunteers and do what they can to get people to sign up. So I don’t understand why people would feel intimidated. I’ve always been involved in my child’s PTAs, starting from preschool and now elementary school. The schools I’ve been involved in work hard to ensure the PTA is a diverse representation of the student body.

    In your point 2, you say majority of the schools were not forthcoming. However, you have 5 out of 6 elementary schools that responded and 2 out of 3 middle schools. It seems like the majority was forthcoming. Some schools may have been surprised that you were writing an article about the process since most if not all PTAs communicate directly to the families in their schools, so they are made aware of the process and steps to take if interested in a board or committee position.

    Your point 3 I definitely agree with there is no consistency on the process among all the schools. The question is should there be and if so how can this be done.

    The PTAs are great and I encourage all to get involved as much as possible. All are welcome, whether you’ve paid the $7 membership fee or not, at least that’s the case at Nishuane.

  6. POSTED BY bitpusher  |  May 10, 2012 @ 8:29 pm

    Wow, just like the Politiburo

    No Mr. Roo, more like the selective service. Organizations have nominating committees because it is difficult to find people who will run for office.

  7. POSTED BY bitpusher  |  May 10, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    “Secret Club”? Really now.

    “Right to the information” ?
    Maybe the reason that the websites are not up to date is because there aren’t enough volunteers to keep it up. Websites don’t update themselves.

    Pay your dues and help out a little. Every little bit helps.
    Since you are doing an article for the Baristanet about the PTA’s, maybe you can get Debbie G. to reimburse you for the $7.00.

  8. POSTED BY saras  |  May 10, 2012 @ 9:24 pm

    If things aren’t being done to your liking, I would suggest volunteering to help. When the information isn’t distributed as well as we’d all like, it’s probably due to a lack of volunteers to update the website, and send everyone eblasts. The less likely scenario is a conspiracy to keep things in a secret club.

    When my first daughter started kindergarten, I read the calendar, and showed up at the meetings. I’m pretty sure the PTA was delighted to see new parents wanting to help. It saddens me to think that parents would feel like they’re unwanted, but frankly, I’m not quite sure how much more effort the PTA could put into recruiting new parents. It’s all time consuming work.

  9. POSTED BY joyful  |  May 11, 2012 @ 12:59 am

    The parents I know who agree to run an event or volunteer do it because they are passionate about the public schools — they see a need and feel responsible for filling that need. They hope to enhance their child’s education and the school.

    The only “secret” thing about it is that its thankless work.

    Its no secret, however, that many parents would much rather not get involved because its so time-consuming. If it seems cliquish at all its because the parents who are giving up their personal and family time often commiserate with each other about how exhausting it is and how few parents show up to PTA meetings.

    No good deed goes unpunished…

  10. POSTED BY deeslilsis21  |  May 11, 2012 @ 7:53 am

    Years ago there were PTA’s that would meet in private homes for breakfast meetings. This is NOT the case today. You are not even a member of the PTA (for your own reasons) not because you are intimidated, BE HONEST. Also, you received a lot of responses to your inquiries and you are still not satisfied. Montclair PTA’s are filled with a diverse group of mothers, fathers, and grandparents that work very hard (volunteers) to make each child’s experience great. PTA Meetings are in the mornings and evenings and attendence is still low. There is no excuse for this, some schools provide childcare and meals.

    For you to post bylaws and criticize the websites is wrong. It is because of the PTA websites and the weekly emails that parents are well informed of what is going on in school. The nominating committees do a phenominal job seeking out volunteers that represent our entire community. All PTA and PTA council meetings are open and welcome you and others to attend.

  11. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  May 11, 2012 @ 8:01 am


    I never said I, personally, was intimated. This was not about me, but the many complaints I have received over the years from PTA members and non-members.

    I’m not a member, because I don’t have time and I stated that.

    There is a reason that the PTA organization has bylaws—to make sure that things are done openly and fairly. If the bylaws are not being followed, it most certainly is not wrong to say it. And I never stated that some bylaws are not being followed on purpose, rather I think that there is lack of information.

    I do hope that more parents join or get involved. In fact, that was the reason I wrote the story to open the discussion on why some parents have not joined. And To give parents information on how one can get involved.

  12. POSTED BY Kristin  |  May 11, 2012 @ 8:54 am

    “The real lesson is that if want to be completely informed, you need to be a member of the PTA and attend all the meetings. Also, PTA Board members work their patooties off. It’s a full time job.”

    As someone not yet in a school PTA (but intend to be next year!), I found this post very informative. The quotation above seems to be pretty clear that the author respects the amount of work the PTA members do – and I’ll bet that this post will encourage those not yet involved to get started.

    Anyone who has worked with volunteers knows how hard it is to get a committed and consistent group to 1) show up 2) dedicate time 3) choose the dirty jobs 4) anything else. Parenting is rough – especially if you’re balancing other commitments and children and jobs and extended family and two or more school PTAs. The fallback, in my experience, is to rely on the people who have shown consistency. And I don’t blame anyone for that – because who gets blamed when something doesn’t go right? The organizers! Appreciation is harder to come by than criticism.

    But for those who aren’t able to dedicate as much time, not being asked can feel not-so-good because they KNOW why they aren’t able to show up more or commit to doing a job. We’ve all got a lot going on – some more than others. And it goes in waves.

    Anyway, sorry for the novella. I just took this post as helpful because I’ve been a part of PTAs on the teacher side in Brooklyn, and I know how tough parents have it.

  13. POSTED BY Debbie Galant  |  May 11, 2012 @ 8:55 am

    In Glen Ridge, it’s Home and School Association too. I was involved a million years ago. I bowed out after getting horsewhipped when I took a passionate stand against juice at birthday parties.

    Yay for all the volunteers, but there’s a pecking order whenever you get groups of women together. And it’s 99 percent women. Remember the power moms? Heck, who wouldn’t be intimidated?

  14. POSTED BY deeslilsis21  |  May 11, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    You didn’t write this with the hopes that more people get involved or you would have written more on the side of the PTA positives. This was a direct hit to criticize the Montclair PTA, and you did just that. I must have missed the part where you tell people how to get involved. You state that these complaints have been over the years, I wonder what would be said today. Saying, “I don’t have the time” is something that I used to say too, but that gets old when there is so much to do inside and outside the school. I can speak for every school, when I say ALL ARE WELCOME!

  15. POSTED BY agideon  |  May 11, 2012 @ 9:38 am

    Before we had our children in the public schools, we heard “things” about parental involvement. We heard that PTAs were all cliques. We heard that parents were not welcome in schools, and that some even kept them out of the building.

    It was enough to keep us out of the public schools until we started to look for ourselves. That delay remains a great regret of ours.

    Our children are in Nishuane and Hillside now. For obvious reasons, therefore, I can speak only of those schools directly. However, I recall very specifically the first PTA meeting I attended: new parents were welcomed and asked to volunteer. The President of the Nishuane PTA at the time said something like “even if you’ve 5 minutes every now and then, we can use the help.”

    That theme keeps repeating: It doesn’t have to be a major block of time, but we need the help.

    The other side, though, is that a number of parents do dedicate a ridiculous amount of time. My wife and I both volunteered at the time, and she’s now President of the PTA at Nishuane. Note that we both work full time.

    New parents are always welcomed at meetings, and asked to get involved (just as we were when we first attended).

    I’m not very involved in the PTA Council, which is the collective of the PTAs for all our schools. I did attend one meeting with a request, however. My request was heard, good questions asked, and they did agree to the request. They then followed through.

    As for out of date information: Yes, that can happen. As a volunteer webmaster at Nishuane and for another volunteer group (unrelated to the schools), I know this. I also work in the Internet business, and there’s a very different approach to task management when one is working as opposed to when the work is being done by a collection of volunteers.

    Please, when you find such things, let the appropriate parties ([email protected] for the PTA in question) know. I’d be grateful for the reminder of things that have slipped through the cracks, and I expect this to be so for any of our volunteers. There have been times, when life has been a little busy, when those reminders from other parents have helped me a great deal.

    The PTA is not a secret club. Email after email is sent to Nishuane and Hillside parents about the PTA, its meetings and events. Most of these include solicitations for involvement.

    This group does important work for our schools, and it offers the opportunity to be involved in ones childrens’ schools in a variety of fun and interesting ways. I love libraries, for example, but one of the reasons I help out in the Hillside library is simply to be in the building and to enjoy all the kids as they enjoy the library. It is remarkably energizing and satisfying, and I strongly recommend this (or any) involvement.

    I only wish I could make it there more often. Still, as I was told at that first meeting: even 5 minutes is a help the schools can use.


  16. POSTED BY Nellie  |  May 11, 2012 @ 9:40 am

    What is wrong with juice at birthday parties? I don’t have kids, so maybe I’m missing the obvious. I am curious, though.

  17. POSTED BY agideon  |  May 11, 2012 @ 9:55 am

    “But for those who aren’t able to dedicate as much time, not being asked can feel not-so-good because they KNOW why they aren’t able to show up more or commit to doing a job.”

    I can understand this. But the other side is also true: It’s annoying to some people to be asked and asked and asked when you haven’t the time to say “yes”.

    It’s something of a no-win situation, I’m afraid.

    What I’d remind you – and everyone – is that there are jobs with minimal commitment. I was asked, for example, if I’d be the person “in charge” of the PTA’s library support at Hillside next year. I could not commit to that. But I’ll still go in on occasion and shelve books. Others help out with a single event, or do things that can be done remotely and at off hours.

    For anyone that has an interest in getting involved, I strongly recommend that you do so. There are so many different ways to help our schools that there’s a good chance that something will fit into one’s life and schedule.


  18. POSTED BY Kristen Kemp  |  May 11, 2012 @ 11:03 am

    The PTA meetings are at night and in the mornings. I think all parents should try to attend at least one a year. They talk openly about budget and positions and upcoming events. Yes, the women are cliquey because they’ve been working hard together for a few years. I had to be persistent, and I was finally given a job. I think they need to trust that the parent will pull through and do what they say they will do. At the PTA meetings I attended, board members complained about parents who bowed out of positions because they got too busy. This leaves the volunteers hanging and frantically picking up pieces.

    The PTA has its flaws, and I don’t feel entirely comfortable at the meetings, but I think it’s an important group. I pitch in when I can.

    Every parent should at least support the PTA by joining even if you can’t attend. (I heart you GG. I’m not faulting you, but I’m encouraging EVERYONE to join!) It’s only $7, and that money goes to things like printing the school directory. I’m just saying, however you feel about the PTA, we all benefit from it. Our schools depend on the hard work they do.

  19. POSTED BY bebopgun  |  May 11, 2012 @ 11:06 am

    Years ago juice was basically sugar water. Not a great thing for the classroom. Now you can get better quality juice, i think it’s not so much an issue.

  20. POSTED BY amw1  |  May 11, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    As both a visitor from another country and a member of the local PTA, I think in your efforts to get across constructive criticism you have done a disservice to the people involved.Your article is not balanced enough on the side of what the PTA achieves and delivers, and focuses too much on negatives. Some of your points are true no doubt. However, not being informed about what happens at the school is not a result of poor performance from the PTAs involved as many do(at least the 4 schools I know of)send regular communications in email and written form. As a new person, I have sometimes found it hard to get a grip on all the things that occur but I do not blame the PTA for that. Parents should make some effort themselves to get acquainted with the PTA, rather than expect it be provided on a silver platter, from volunteers who largely all have exceptionally busy lives themselves. If anyone is unhappy with the state of play, then do something about it by joining and helping out! Engagement by parents is a problem not unique to Montclair or the US.In Australia, our ‘PTA’ presidents are all elected ‘politburo’ style, another thing not unique to Montclair. Balloted voting would be better certainly. If PTA Presidents had the luxury of time to address these problems, no doubt they would, but end up spending their time organizing and administrating in so many tasks that others do not help out with so they can be a success. Perhaps you should chat to other parents besides the ones who aren’t involved to get a wider view of the value that the PTA delivers overall which is to me the bigger picture.

  21. POSTED BY agideon  |  May 11, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    The next Nishuane PTA meeting is tentatively scheduled for the evening of June 5th. The next Hillside PTA meeting is scheduled for the morning of May 30th.

    I’d also like to remind everyone that Nishuane’s PTA has an event coming up: Mayfair. It’s May 19th, and more information is available at or . It includes rides, games and activities, and cuddly animals.

    Note that all PTA sites (eg. and ) have links to calendars.


  22. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  May 11, 2012 @ 1:29 pm


    Here’s my annual write up of Mayfair:

  23. POSTED BY bebopgun  |  May 11, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    I find it hard to believe so many parents are too busy for Home & School activities. One either cares or doesn’t. To give a couple hours/month to an activity is not asking too much.

    The decrease in H&S membership is part of the greater trend in declining membership in most civic organizations. Bowling Alone covered that well.

  24. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  May 11, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    See I disagree I think this post and the comments opens up a great dialogue Now I want to join the PTA. I say how I don’t have time but the truth is I have not made time. And it sounds like for all who felt it may have been a private club they are welcome and very much needed.

    deeslilsis21-I will say this some people actually don’t have the time. Georgette is one of those people. This site hardly runs by itself. I say that because I know the hours she works. Everyone is quick to throw her under the bus but when your event or whatever need publicity who do you ask? This person or that and 589 other people emailing her and asking her favors all day and night.

    Most of my friends are involved PTA parents and they are all wonderful kind people. Amy Gideon was one of the most open and down to earth presidents I have met.

  25. POSTED BY Christina Gillham  |  May 11, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

    I have been to a few PTA meetings/events at my son’s school and have found them to be anything but intimidating or “clique-y”. I find the majority of the PTA moms (and a few dads) warm, approachable, totally dedicated and immensely grateful for any kind of help they can get. I also get a TON of stuff home (and in email) from the PTA, so I feel well informed. Granted, not all schools may be like this, but my son’s is, IMHO. The only bad part is that I am not able to volunteer as often as I’d like…

  26. POSTED BY g07003  |  May 11, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

    Hello bebopgun –
    Did someone at Home & School tell that the organizations are “not called PTA in Bloomfield b/c not all the kids have parents taking care of them”. I’m a former H&S president and just had to chime in that that’s not accurate. At some point in time that predates me (!) Bloomfield decided to get out from under the control of the national PTA organization and instead organize as home and school associations. It has nothing to do with “P” for parent. Which school are you involved in? My kids were at Demarest. Heaven only knows where it is now, my friend and I unearthed a journal of minutes and treasury reports for Demarest H&S from the 1940s which was stashed in the kitchen cabinet above the refrigerator.

  27. POSTED BY katvanwin  |  May 11, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    You make an awful lot of assumptions in this article — particularly in the intro. For example, “knowing what’s going on in the PTA is difficult unless you are in the PTA” is simply ridiculous. At my daughter’s school, we get at least a couple of flyers a week letting us know about PTA-sponsored volunteer opportunities and efforts going on at the school. Our PTA president does a “Friday letter” most weeks that summarizes what’s been happening and what’s coming up. These notices go to ALL parents and caregivers — PTA members or not. We have chosen not to communicate primarily by email because some members of our school community do not have easy email access and we want to be fully inclusive.

    This is the first year in my time there that our school used a nominating committee. As another poster said, a common problem is finding enough volunteers — the nominating committee is 3-5 more volunteer slots that need to be filled.

    PTA elections are conducted in the way they are following the PTA bylaws. They are set up to be a consensus election. If someone wants to “run against” one of the candidates nominated for a slot, there is a provision for them to do so, but it takes place long before the meeting during which the elections are held.

    While the state PTA standard is a 2-year max for PTA positions, this is a section of the bylaws that is flexible and has been changed to 3 years by some schools — again to address the issue of having enough people available to cover all the necessary positions.

    Since you’re so interested in transparency, it would have been appropriate to mention in your article the fact that at least some of the PTAs you reached out to were contacted less than 24 hours before this story ran, and that you didn’t even have the courtesy to state a deadline in your message to them. Sorry – we’re busy working and volunteering at our own kids’ schools and getting dinner on the table rather than jumping through hoops for you.

  28. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 12, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    I was once savagely beaten and left for dead in the Kings parking lot by a pack of PTA moms. Fortunately a nun happened to be walking by and administered first aid.

  29. POSTED BY rak  |  May 14, 2012 @ 10:21 pm

    Another example of shoddy and biased journalism.

  30. POSTED BY rsh1  |  May 15, 2012 @ 6:31 am

    I’ve been involved in a few different PTAs over the years, from a pre-K in the city, to a variety of schools in Montclair. At each school, there were parents saying they didn’t feel welcome and felt excluded from the PTA. But at each school, there was a lot of outreach to get all the parents involved. There are e-mail blasts and there are flyers in the backpacks. Those aren’t just for show. The PTA really does want people to get involved and help out. PTA “membership” is really just paying the $10 (or whatever it is at each school). But I can assure you that no one is checking whether you’re a card-carrying member of the PTA when you want to volunteer for something — or even if you just have a question.
    I’m pretty active at my son’s school. And when my kids started there 7 years ago, it didn’t occur to me that someone wouldn’t want my help. I just started volunteering. So I think people need to get over their own insecurities and get involved at whatever level they can. Obviously, it’s tough to do things during the day if you work full time. But there may be some way you can get involved. If there are evening or weekend events, just jump in. The PTA can’t call each and every parent and beg them to get involved. And I wouldn’t worry too much about the actual PTA meetings. If you can go, great. And if you can’t go, it’s really not a big deal. If something important happens at the meeting, you’ll her about it. So stop fretting that the PTA an exclusive club, and give it a try.

  31. POSTED BY walleroo  |  May 15, 2012 @ 9:14 am

    Another example of shoddy and biased journalism.

    Have you been keeping a list, rak? Oh, please, show us.

    I think Georgette did plenty of homework for this essay, whether or not you agree with her point of view. Your comment, by contrast, is redolent of a bodily function.

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