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How do we hold parents responsible for attending PTA

20 years 1 month ago #109886 by TheMetzyMom
You cannot make parents or teachers attend meetings. It is as simple as that. To think that just because parents don't attend meetings that they aren't a part of their childs education is, well, silly. I am a disabled parent who spends a minimum of 6 to 8 hours a day (and help by grading papers at home in my 'spare' at my child's school, volunteering all over the place. My son is in a 4th grade accelerated class, but I spend most of my time either in the 1st grade tutoring and reading, in the office, or helping our PTO. The night that the current PTO board has their meetings is not an option for me. Doesn't mean I don't care, just means I can't attend a meeting on a Thursday evening.

There are other ways to bring parents who could attend but don't. Door prizes are very popular. Most local merchants will donate small items (sometimes not so on a regular basis. Floral items, oil changes, grocery gift certificates, jewelry, dash board covers, music gift certificates, dry cleaning certificates, etc. Nearby attractions, like theme parks, are also pretty good about giving door prizes. Then advertise the hell out of your meetings! Add babysitting services. Coffee and cookies. Anything and everything!

Remember that there are other reasons someone might not attend meetings, like cliques for instance. Even dislike of a board member will keep folks away. A new baby. A disability. Shyness. You never know what is going on inside a person's mind, or what their life is like, and you shouldn't pretend to or penalize others when you don't know their story. Or even if you do.

It is easy to want others to be as involved as you are, but I doubt that it will ever happen. I don't know of any parents in my area who can put in the hours that I do. Nor should they. If they are home helping with their child's homework, send cookies on party days, show up for awards assemblies, work full time, cook and clean, take kids to sports, karate, dance, or whatever, keep the baby's diaper dry, laundry, etc., they probably are doing the best they can.

Lighten up and appreciate those who do come and appreciate those who help out in other ways. Look at it like this: Going to church every Sunday morning of your life will not get you a ticket to heaven. Going to every monthly PTO meeting doesn't necessarily mean you are a good volunteer. Know what I mean?

Good Luck!
20 years 1 month ago #109885 by Michelle B
Hi Towanda,
I understand your frustration, I really do but you can't force them to attend meetings. I have come to realize that attending meetings, doesn't measure the success of your PTA nor does it indicate the level of Parent involvement. One of our most active PTAs (my own school even) has an average meeting attendance of about 10. They do however, this year, have over 500 members and close to 200 volunteers. They've won awards (in fact nearly swept them recently)and they are highly regarded, yet the meetings remain about 10.
I wouldn't go the route of attempting to force them, it isn't going to work but rather drive an even deeper wedge. People want to be a part of something that is fun. They want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. Try focusing on the fact that their childs grades will improve, that it will encourage better test scores, that it reduces their childs risks at becoming involved in drugs and alcohol.
I would take a look at your state's website or National's and find a BSP presenter in your area and request they come to your school to present it. Perhaps offer that as evening for interested parents and community leaders.
Your state office should have more information to help you and your resource book has reproducibles regarding Parental Involvement increasing success.
Again, focus on the positive and you will gradually see results but don't worry about the meetings. If they don't attend, than they give that hour elsewhere. You just want them to give it.
20 years 1 month ago #109884 by Towanda
Thank you Serendipity for your response. Maybe I should restate my question. How can we decrease the absenteeism in PTA meetings? Our PTA meetings are held every month on the 2nd Tuesday of the month @ 6:30 p.m. Yes, our school does have a time slot scheduled for parents to attend teacher conferences (3:30 - 5:30). I know my parents can't attend, so I do phone conferences, or home visits, or even see them prior to school starting. I am a Special Ed teacher so my schedule is more flexible compared to a teacher with 27-30 students in their class.

But I am a firm believer that parents should be more active in their child's education. I understand parents working, truly I do, even single parents, because I am one. I take time out for both my children to attend their PTA meetings and am frequently asking "what is it I can do to assist?" If I can't assist during their school hours, I have made myself available to assist after hours in making copies, cutting letters, and performing other tasks the various teachers may have me to do. That's how I think parents can become actively involved. Even if they give an hour per week or twice a month.

I read some of the other articles and I see there is open communication even online for the parents/teachers/and administrators at other schools. I think every school should have that, especially ours, just to see where the breakdown is and why our attendance is so low.

Again, I thank you and again, I should've clarified my question. Also, I never heard of a PTO before, but going to this site helped me understand the difference.
20 years 1 month ago #109883 by Serendipity
You cannot hold parents accountable for not attending parent meetings. Just because a parent does not attend meetings does not prove that they are not active in their childs education. There are other factors such as parents working or parents not having someone to watch their children. But attending a PTO meeting and attending a parent/teacher conference are two different things. For parent/teacher confrences you should have the parents agree to to a time they are able to attend. We have confrences during the day and night for that reason.

As for poor turn out at PTO meetings...All you can do is try and get people involved. See if there are factors detering people from getting active. Are your meeting times held at a time that is good for most people. Do people think it is one big clique and that deters them from attending?

Also, sadly there are just some people who do not want to be involved and no matter what you do they will not join in.
20 years 1 month ago #109882 by Towanda
I am a teacher in Atlanta. We have poor, parent participation. How can we hold parents accountable for attendance at our Parent meetings or even parent-teacher conferences? I have heard that some states contact the Department of Children Svcs when parents aren't active in their child's education. If your state does this, is there some documentation on this? If not, does anyone else have any strategies they can provide to me in terms of decreasing the absenteeism of parents at our parent meetings?

Thank you for your help! Towanda
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