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Old 09-02-2013, 06:28 AM   #1
bookwormde
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PTOs/PTAs

I am wondering what everyone's perception of parent teacher organizations in schools in so far as how welcoming they are and their benefit and usefulness for parents of children with disabilities.
I am particularly interested in this information in regards to formal PTAs (part of the National Parent Teachers Association).
Thanks
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:44 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by bookwormde View Post
I am wondering what everyone's perception of parent teacher organizations in schools in so far as how welcoming they are and their benefit and usefulness for parents of children with disabilities.
I am particularly interested in this information in regards to formal PTAs (part of the National Parent Teachers Association).
Thanks
I'd be involved if they had meetings at times where working parents can make them. Years ago the school had an evening meeting every other month. They did away with that and by the time we started they only offer them at 8:30 I'm the morning. I've never been able to make that I think it's very frustrating that they don't take working parents needs and desire to be part of the organization into account. I have a special needs kiddo but I also have to work.i have no idea how helpful the PTA is for kids with disabilities. I've never seen this addressed in their newsletters.
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Old 09-02-2013, 06:52 AM   #3
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I personally don't get anything out of either of my kids PTOs. They are both in self contained special ed classes. Fortunately, sp Ed classrooms here get any supplies and tech they need so fundraising efforts do nothing for our kids classrooms in particular. I find PTO at our two schools to be corrupt, money grabs. One woman actually was arrested last year for embezzling over $5000.

Other than holding WAY too many fundraisers every year and flooding my inbox with reminders and pleas to attend them, I have seen nothing come of the PTO efforts except "new computers" for random classrooms throughout the school.

And the women are annoying, gossipy, and clique-y. Not anything I want or need to be involved in personally. I bet most of them don't even know the school has special Ed classrooms.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:17 AM   #4
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Our PTO is the ANTI-PTO..meaning we are so unlike any other PTO i've heard of. I joined the exec board as treasurer when my daughter started kindergarden two years ago. This year I took on the position of VP as well. I had heard stories about PTO/PTAs being filled with gossipy money grabbers and you know what? this one isn't that way at all. We do one big fundraiser a year, for our kids. this festival is sponsored by local businesses and we make enough for our kids to go on field trips, fill the classrooms with everything our teachers and students need, and every child in our school, at any level, disabled or not gets everything they need from our PTO. Our city's school libraries, art and music classes were taken away and our PTO raised money for our kids to have art and music classes during school and special music classes after school if they want. Also, our board recruited parent volunteers to run our school library so the kids can get all the books they want. We have our meetings at night and provide child care in the gym so parents can join in. We also started a web meeting where parents can log in and watch from home.
I think it depends on where you go. I lucked out with this amazing school and i love being on the PTO board. I am not your typical "PTO Mom". I'm an artist/musician, punky mom with tattoos and kind of go against the grain. I think that helps make our PTO more approachable.
i hope you find a happy place in your PTO/PTA search
Jenne
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Old 09-05-2013, 09:34 AM   #5
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Was involved for many many years from the local through the State level of PTA. I will say that every program whether it be school, county, district, region or a state are run differently. Because I had a child who was special needs and always in self-contained plus two typical kids - not only did I approach things from both sides but those around me who knew of my son (only in middle did he attend our districted schoool) were very supportive.

Unfortunately I think if there are components in your PTA that you do not feel are inclusive of your child, then you have to step up, request for the inclusion in PTA programming, then be prepared to chair it your self. With PTA if you have an idea, often you are now in charge And I learned to never sit in a chair at big meetings because somewhere there are stars glued to the bottom and that means you are, again, in charge of something.

I brought special needs divisions into the Arts Reflections program right on up through the State. While Nationals did not recognize it gave them an opportunity to succeed at the State level. I was proud our State PTA stepped out of the box and expanded their program. The response from all over the state was good and the PTAs were of varied perspectives. Yes many kids participated the traditional route but by high school, many of the students work could in no way compete.

When I first started in elementary they had the "Exceptional Children's" committee. It was a combination of Special Needs and Talented & Gifted Students. Talk about two different objectives from parents. Once I was in charge of a program that was to help the children learn about differently-abled people. We set up some exercises for the teachers to do in the classroom but one that was a big hit was I was given enough money to create many large posters for the hallways that were highlighting famous people with all kinds of disabilities. I also picked some that were hidden disabilities so it got their attention. I put them mostly along the walls where the kids lined up for lunch. Often you would see the kids huddled around talking about it. (Note: my son with special needs did not attend this school, this was my neighborhood school).

Every school I was in was different. If it was a "center" school they were usually excellent, if there was one lone class in a school (my middle) school the PTA basically ignored their existence. And I think it depends on your PTAs overall objectives whether it be for fundraising for large projects or small programs or teacher grants or kid activities....all different. One key thing here is it is Parent-Teacher Association/Organization. If you feel your PTA can improve on what they are doing for inclusion, get your Teacher involved and have them request support in whatever way you all feel they need it. Often other teachers and administration will back them up, you just have to bring it to the forefront. AND in support of some PTAs - other parents are often reluctant to acknowledge that the special needs students may need their support in some ways because often they are so afraid to offend because they are not supposed to treat you different.

Again, join, volunteer, speak up - if your hours don't work find something you can do or create in off hours (been there) online. Like I said, around 25 years of active PTA and in school volunteer service and if we don't push for our kids, why would the other parents.
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Old 09-09-2013, 12:05 PM   #6
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Our dd is in 2nd grade. She has ASD, and is pulled out for language arts and math, and mainstreamed for social studies, science, and PE/ART/Music.

This is kind of a difficult question for me to address. Our PTA tends to tackle things that affect the whole school, like playground equipment. The playground is not very wheelchair friendly, so the 2 kids in wheelchairs at our school have a specially made swing, or they can join the other kids up on the blacktop. (Younger grades, k-2) use the playground, and older kids are on the blacktop, or playing on the fields. So I guess they could improve by having more accessible equipment.

On the flip side of this, it is a small rural school. Eight years ago, no one could play on the playground equipment. It was so old, it was actually condemned. So the PTA did some fundraisers, and new equipment was installed, including the swing for kids who can't support their upper bodies.

I feel like our PTA is receptive to any reasonable suggestion.
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Old 09-19-2013, 07:56 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwormde View Post
I am wondering what everyone's perception of parent teacher organizations in schools in so far as how welcoming they are and their benefit and usefulness for parents of children with disabilities.
I am particularly interested in this information in regards to formal PTAs (part of the National Parent Teachers Association).
Thanks
The PTA or PTO only functions when it has a representation from everyone in the school, and that means parents from all grades, all abilities. So, I think a better question is, "what do parents of children with disabilities bring to the PTA/PTO, and how willing are they to join, and how will their unique experience benefit the school population as a whole?" Even if the PTO isn't welcoming, it behooves a parent to show up and make their voice heard.

But, I've never thought about what the PTA does for me. That's not really their purpose. I've always believed these organizations to be a means through which the parents could engage the school community to benefit their children. All the children.

That said, until high school, I had never sat on a PTA / PTO that wasn't exactly like we all think it's going to be - gossipy, insular. And by and large, the party line is always, "we're different. Our pto is NOT like all the others."
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Old 10-02-2013, 05:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bookwormde View Post
I am wondering what everyone's perception of parent teacher organizations in schools in so far as how welcoming they are and their benefit and usefulness for parents of children with disabilities.
I am particularly interested in this information in regards to formal PTAs (part of the National Parent Teachers Association).
Thanks
Our local PTAs are for the entire school; they do not single out any group. Basically, they are a fundraising organization that is powered by volunteers. Not sure what you are looking for with your statement "benefit and usefulness for parents of children with disabilities", but if you get involved in PTA it is because you are offering your time and services to the school, not the other way around.
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Old 10-03-2013, 07:13 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone who has replied so far.

I did not want to give background just to avoid biasing the answers.

I know that it is not always known at the local level, but PTA is first and foremost and advocacy organization.

I am trying to get a feel if parents of children with disabilities feel welcome in general education school PTOs/PTAs and if they feel the organizations are supporting their and their children's needs and concerns equally to that of parents whose children who do not have special needs.

Please continue to share your perceptions
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Old 10-05-2013, 06:22 AM   #10
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Yes, it is an advocacy program, but it is not for a specific group, child, or family - it is to encourage families to get involved in their child's school and education, and to support the public education system.

Bookwormde, it's pretty obvious to me what you are thinking of and the intentions of your post. I think you have the wrong idea of what the PTA's purpose in a school system is, or your PTA is not following the National PTA rules.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:26 PM   #11
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Normally I try to avoid these conversations but...

(1) We should not make assumptions why someone is making an inquiry or their level of knowledge. Not giving background could mean they are genuinely looking for honest answers to help for the greater good. Forums are a great place to survey people's honest thoughts.

(2) PTA is not a "fundraising organization" by mission but unfortunately that is what many have become. No where in their mission and value statement are funds or finances even mentioned. In our state the fundraising became so much the driving force in local's agendas (to buy luxury items like fancy playgrounds and velvet stage curtains, or thousands on a fenced garden with a replica birdhouse of Monticello - really?) that rules had to be set in place to limit the number of fundraisers and the amount of money that was carried in banks. It's sad when it becomes about money for things rather than advocacy for all the children. If fundraising is the basis for any PTA then maybe it's time to re-evaluate.

(3) "The overall purpose of PTA is to make every childs potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children." It says all children but, and I've seen it, many times the children with special needs are often not incorporated into their plan. Absolutely not expecting to be singled out for special treatment, only to be considered when planning is happening as to a PTA agenda. I have seen where self-contained special ed classrooms are actually left out of PTA offerings because the assumption was made that the students could not appreciate the program or that they already get more money from the state so why should PTA help with program supplies. That is singling out.

I spent many years involved in PTA at 3 elementary, 1 middle, 2 high school, the council and state level. The families of special needs students are often on the outside of PTA for various reasons. Since my earlier post I have learned that the PTA Reflections program now has a Special Artists division that seems to be following the program I set up here many years ago, and I am thrilled. Inclusiveness by PTA in their programming could go a long way in encouraging and helping parents advocate.

One of our high schools had an incredible Special Needs committee with monthly speaker meetings to help parents through the process. My other high school - zero! Their focus is Talented and Gifted. The Special Ed route is complex and scary and sometimes it's parent vs school. And often it's because parents do not know their rights or choices - PTA could help advocate for those children if nothing else with educational presentations and speakers, costing virtually nothing but invaluable to the parents who need information. No expectation that PTA is working for or helping any individual. Merely empower the local units to truly advocate for all with information.

PTA says "We are dedicated to promoting childrens health, well-being, and educational success through strong parent, family, and community involvement." Our special children become special adults. The more we know as they grow about services, options, inclusive programming etc, the more productive and successful they will be. Sometimes parents feel so alone in the school system, alone in the PTA meetings, alone when their child isn't included in the thought process of PTA events ....Yes, it is up to us to volunteer and help bring about inclusion, but when you feel your child already does not fit their mold and you might be just one person, it's hard. Due to confidentiality, mainstreaming and other issues many parents of children with special needs don't even know who the other parents of special needs students in their school are. I'm sorry it can be hard to become involved when you feel you are one person and there is no fit for you or your child in your school's PTA agenda.

I think I understand the OP's question, how can PTA help to make their programs truly "every childs potential a reality." thus encouraging more involvement from their parents. Hopefully all PTAs will remember their last mission statement "Integrity: We act consistently with our beliefs. When we err, we acknowledge the mistake and seek to make amends."

https://www.pta.org/about/content.cf...ItemNumber=552
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Last edited by HopperFan; 10-05-2013 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 03-01-2014, 08:07 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by niftywench View Post
Our PTO is the ANTI-PTO..meaning we are so unlike any other PTO i've heard of. I joined the exec board as treasurer when my daughter started kindergarden two years ago. This year I took on the position of VP as well. I had heard stories about PTO/PTAs being filled with gossipy money grabbers and you know what? this one isn't that way at all. We do one big fundraiser a year, for our kids. this festival is sponsored by local businesses and we make enough for our kids to go on field trips, fill the classrooms with everything our teachers and students need, and every child in our school, at any level, disabled or not gets everything they need from our PTO. Our city's school libraries, art and music classes were taken away and our PTO raised money for our kids to have art and music classes during school and special music classes after school if they want. Also, our board recruited parent volunteers to run our school library so the kids can get all the books they want. We have our meetings at night and provide child care in the gym so parents can join in. We also started a web meeting where parents can log in and watch from home.
I think it depends on where you go. I lucked out with this amazing school and i love being on the PTO board. I am not your typical "PTO Mom". I'm an artist/musician, punky mom with tattoos and kind of go against the grain. I think that helps make our PTO more approachable.
i hope you find a happy place in your PTO/PTA search
Jenne

I'm a member of the same kind of PTO. Ours is great and they treat our MH classes, which are run by a different organization than our local school district, the same as any other class in school. If kids can't afford supplies, we have a fully stocked "treasure box" in memory of a kindergartner we lost, where they can get whatever they need free of charge. On Donut days, they will send boxes of donuts to the MH classes because many parents don't make it in since a lot of the students in those classes are from other districts.
(Hey, I used to live in Quincy (love your spelling!) too)
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Old 03-02-2014, 05:49 AM   #13
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again thanks for the responses,

I would like to expand the question to if your PTO or PTA does address
the needs of children with special needs, what is you primary path, Fundraising and material support, direct child and family non material support, or broader advocacy on behalf of children with special needs and if so if what level (school, district, region, state or national)
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