Not Your Mother’s PTA

In Friday’s New York Times, reporter Winnie Hu writes that traditional PTAs/PTOs “have evolved into sophisticated multitiered organizations bearing little resemblance to the mom-and-pop groups that ran bake sales a generation ago.” (“Spreadsheets and Power Plays: PTAs Go Way Beyond Cookies”). Hu says that PTAs/PTOs have become more high-powered because the membership is increasingly made up of former executives who are now stay-at-home parents and who sometimes have their own agenda, which she argues can cause a power struggle between them and the school principal.

Gail Connelly, NAESP’s chief operating officer, emphasizes principals’ support of PTAs, noting that school leaders rely more than ever on parent groups. “Many principals may view it as a mixed blessing,” said Connelly. “But the reality is they are willing to assume the added pressure because the PTA provides a wonderful forum for parent-principal partnerships to flourish—and that partnership brings tremendous resources to support the goals of the school community.”

What do you think about Hu’s take on the changing PTA? Have you experienced this in your school?