Leading Source

In one Calif. district, veteran organization plays new role

I wrote a piece last year about parental involvement in schools. Naturally, I talked to one of the oldest and largest parent organizations, the PTA, which expounded on the importance of parents and schools partnering to ensure student success.

Who knew (at least I didn’t), that the PTA could be as instrumental in helping to form bonds in a fractured political environment. Such is the case in Capistrano Unified, a large school district I visited in sunny Orange County, Calif.

I’d picked the district because I thought it illustrated the tough times many education systems were having in the Golden State. I certainly didn’t expect to find that there was more to the story, that their recent turmoil had as much to do with politics as it did with finances.

“We are desperate to heal,” Kim Anderson, the legislative chair for the district’s PTA told me. “We’ve had years of distraction from our core mission: educating children.”

I won’t go into details about the community unrest and upheaval the district has endured and become known for in the last several years . You can read it here , here, here, but most importantly here.

What is worth noting is there was almost unilateral agreement in Capistrano that in order to move forward and address some very difficult times ahead, they must come together … and interestingly enough, the local PTA stands to play a huge role in this.

“I can’t think of another group that could act in this [capacity],” Anderson says, whose local chapter not only has been nationally recognized for its advocacy and outreach efforts, but Anderson herself has received commendations from the national PTA office.

“The PTA is a non-partisan organization and we try hard to focus on the kids and not get distracted with the politics,” Anderson said. Beginning and maintaining open lines of communication with board members and administrators is one strategy the group intends to use toward this endeavor.

Hmm … could we be seeing a new acronym for this venerable organization? The PTCDA: The Parent Teacher Community Diplomat Association?

Naomi Dillon, Senior Editor

Naomi Dillon|March 27th, 2009|Categories: Governance, Student Achievement, American School Board Journal|Tags: , , |

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