When the NC General Assembly leaves gaps in funding it’s sometimes the PTA that picks up the slack. PTAs across the state fund iPads, smart TVs, and library books. We have carnivals, bake sales, restaurant take overs, and fun runs. We get corporations and businesses to sponsor playground upgrades in exchange for advertising. I call this the PTA tax.
PTAs seem to be paying more than their fair share. If you aren’t directly involved, it is way more than just decorating of hallways and teacher appreciation projects. PTAs now pay for equipment. We pay for teacher training and their travel expenses. Some PTAs have set up food pantries and stock supply closets. This isn’t normal. This is an indication of an underfunded school system.
While some schools can fill gaps left by the NC General Assembly, many cannot. Not many areas can crowd source enough funds to pay for technology, or other classroom needs. This leaves even greater disparities in our schools. More than ever our zip codes are determining the quality of our schools.
All this was never intended by the founders of the PTA. The PTA was founded to advocate for children. It remains the core of the PTA’s mission today. The NCPTA Mission Statement states: The overall purpose of PTA is to make every child’s potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to advocate for all children. Bake sales aren’t mentioned.
So how do we fix this? I suggest, we infiltrate the PTA. Get involved in your local unit. Be the advocacy chair, or at the very least, make sure you have an advocacy chair. You don’t have to be president to make a difference. When you do run a fundraiser, remind your school the reason it’s necessary. Remind them that we are essentially being taxed by the North Carolina General Assembly.
In my heart, I’d love to call for a general strike of all PTAs across the state. We stop fund raising and insist that our legislature do it’s job. We let our wealthier areas feel the true pinch that our legislators have created. Instead of fundraising, we organize parents and community members to educate others, vote, and advocate in the name of public education.
Of course in real life, my own PTA applauded my principals and then planned another restaurant takeover. Still, PTA is an excellent way to advocate for our public schools. We can support public schools and issues that our schools face. Be a voice of change when you can, or simply educate. Sometimes you have to put up with the bake sales to get to the good stuff.