Happy New Year!
As I write this, I’m considering all those folks who have made New Year’s resolutions to get more involved with their son’s or daughter’s school PTAs. But what does it mean to get more involved particularly with PTA? I know that we all immediately think of the many notices we send to our membership, parents, and staff of our local school asking for volunteers and money. The events we plan and the many tasks we all manage to accomplish each year are amazing and demonstrate the involvement of many. Either individually or all of us together synergize to do great work. But this time of year we have to stop for a minute and consider, what would happen without our local PTA? How do we keep this commitment going next year? These questions will be answered as our nominating committees work hard to fill the officers’ election slate for next year. I hope that you can appeal to all those folks who have resolved to get more involved and fill that slate with some energetic newcomers.
But what about the election slates for Council, District, State, and National PTA? Each of these levels of PTA has similar positions and they need our help. Did you know that some of the positions currently filled at Council, District, State, and National PTA are folks like you whose children are grown? These men and women (who may even be grandparents) are working on behalf of all children. They understand how truly important it is to have our grassroot local PTAs in place but also to have the State and National PTAs lobbying for our children’s rights, better school conditions, more school funding, and to fight other special interest groups who have an eye on the budget money that needs to be spent on public education. You might not realize the daily work needed to keep money from being routed away from public education in both the State and National budgets. Where, indeed, would we be without each and every one of us working at every level of PTA fighting to make sure that this does not happen? Those of us who have young children and work in our local PTA may sometimes forget (as we look for more volunteers and more money to help with our local needs) that we are a part of a much bigger cause and there is great need for work to be done beyond the local level as well.
This brings me back to the New Year’s resolution I began my message with. I made this resolution a few years back. I am involved not only at the local level, but also at the District level; and as a result, also at the State level. Do I sometimes feel like I took on a bit more than I should? Of course! But the rewards of the work are worth it. Along with the great feelings about everything that has been accomplished at all levels of PTA, my District role has also made me painfully aware of the need to have PTA involved in our government’s budget planning at all levels–continuously working together to make sure that our elected representatives hear us–over and over again. Even our President-Elect, Barack Obama, understands the need for organizaitons like PTA. Prior to the election, he was quoted as saying: “If lightning strikes and I get elected, I will need a movement at my back, or I won’t be able to accomplish anything.” PTA will continue to fight for all children, but we need help. Please remind your local membership that we are here to rally for our cause and together we will continue to move in positive directions for our children’s education. PTA must continue to thrive and grow, or our children and future generations of children will suffer the consequences of apathy. Please help us look for volunteers willing to work above the local level and remind your local membership that PTA is not about fundraising at the school–though you do play a role in it–but more importantly, it’s about an organization that is here to continue to work on behalf of all children.
–Deborah Kemper, 17th District PTA President