Who Controls the School E-mail List?

Healthy communication between schools and parents allows both to collaborate in providing the best possible learning experience for students. Many schools find that using an e-mail list keeps parents in the loop. But The Washington Post reports that maintaining a school e-mail list can become problematic. Often maintained by a school’s PTA, conflict can arise over ownership if the list manager decides to leave the PTA or if there are stringent rules about who can post, for example. “As PTA Groups Move Online, So Does Dissension” describes some of the pitfalls of PTA managed e-mail lists. School administrators and PTA groups should work together when introducing an e-mail list. Establish ground rules and have people abide by them.

Double Take

More and more twins, triplets, and other multiple-birth children are seen in school buildings these days, and it seems that principals face the dilemma of whether to keep siblings in the same classes throughout the year. According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, 21 states have either passed legislation or are considering laws concerning twins or other multiples in schools. Parents appear to be adamant one way or the other about how to place their children, so legislators have sided with them by proposing laws that would leave the decision in the hands of the parents.

There is no cut-and-dry research as to whether it is better to separate multiples or keep them together in the classroom, which makes the issue a bit complex. It would be interesting to know what some principals’ experiences have been with multiples in their schools.

Whole Child, Whole Family

The level of parent involvement with their children’s education—reading with them or helping with homework, for example—depends on the parent’s own level of literacy, according to a newly released study by the National Center for Education Statistics,  “Literacy in Everyday Life: Results From the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy”. The study assessed adult literacy patterns and found that the higher the level of literacy, the more likely parents were to be involved in school, participate in literacy-related activities, and have educational resources in the home.

Read “Family Literacy: Sharing Classrooms with Parents,” from the Principal archives for an example of an effective family literacy program.

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?