The Politics of the Pta

Transaction Publishers
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The Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is one of our nation's largest and most respected organizations. Because of its size and influence, the PTA is often viewed as a key player in the formation of education policy. Mainstream coverage of the PTA and its activities reflects an assumption that it is a beneficent group of parents dedicated solely to the betterment of children and enhancement of our nation's public schools. In this groundbreaking new book, Charlene K. Haar assesses the PTA from a critical perspective and shows that these common perceptions of the organization are misguided.

Haar surveys the organization's history and demonstrates its longstanding tendency to involve itself in issues of little or no relevance to education policy. Throughout its formative years, the PTA pursued legislative goals on issues such as prohibition, cigarette smoking, and international relations -- topics that had little to do with educating students. In more recent years, Haar contends, when the PTA did address important educational issues, its positions merely reflected the policies of the powerful teacher unions: the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association. The modern PTA at the national and state levels rarely speaks with a truly independent voice, depriving parents of what could have been a constructive force for reform in public education.

Haar criticizes the PTA for defining meaningful parental involvement in education as fundraising, lobbying, and volunteering at schools in roles defined by teachers. Parental involvement should be viewed, Haar contends, primarily as activities that parents undertake to improve their children's academic performance. Ineffect, the PTA relegates parents to being little more than boosters of the educational status quo. With this dubious mission, it is not surprising that the organization's membership has dwindled, and with its tightly controlled governance structure, reform of the PTA is very improbable. Unable to stand up to the teacher unions or to represent parents' interests, the PTA seems destined for irrelevance, as its base in the schools is challenged by local parent organizations that choose not to be affiliated with the National PTA.

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Transaction Publishers
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Published on
Dec 31, 2002
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Education / Educational Policy & Reform / General
Education / History
Education / Parent Participation
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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