When a story broke this week about strict nutritional guidelines possibly being enforced in Massachusetts, a good deal of the coverage focused on the end of bake sales as we know them and the harm it would cause parent groups that rely on them to raise money for schools.
One Massachusetts State Representative was quoted in a Boston Globe story saying the bakery ban seemed “to go way too far’’ and added, “I think we’ll hear from every parent-teacher organization. I didn’t say this on the floor, but what are they going to sell, carrot sticks?’’
This lawmaker wasn’t the only one expressing this opinion, and while we appreciate the concern for PTOs, there’s something here that is off key. It’s the idea that PTOs are almost synonymous with bake sales or that they would be lost without them (selling carrots, of all things).
What we see, everyday, are PTOs and PTAs doing amazing work and running programs and events that are complex and often raise substantial funds for schools. There’s no question parent groups would feel the effects of a ban on bake sales, but these groups are about so much more than this one issue.
We know of PTOs and PTAs that organize for months to hold elaborate auctions. These projects often resemble the running of a small business, requiring public relations, budgeting, sales, and event and sponsor management. Check out our Ultimate Donation List forum on the PTO Today Message Boards and check into some of these conversations. One group recently outlined how it raised $135,000.
But this isn’t just about the significant financial contributions PTOs make. More importantly, it’s about the integral role these groups play in school communities. Research shows the more engaged parents are in their child’s education, the more successful the child will be in school. It helps them academically, emotionally and socially. The PTOs are on the front lines in this effort and, year after year, they work to build a sense of community and foster involvement.
How about the parent group that took over running many aspects of the school to save it from closing? Or what about the groups that create great community service programs? Still others work to raise literacy scores and help build community in times of severe economic stress.
This isn’t about cookies or cakes, and it hasn’t been for a long time.
So, we’re against a bake sale ban — we think parents, and local schools, are perfectly capable of making their own decisions on what makes sense for their community. But we also know that banning cookies and cakes isn’t going to stop PTOs and PTAs or the important work they do.