In our old town, at our old school, I confess that I never went to a single PTA meeting. Even though one of my very best friends was the PTA president. Hey, I was a single mom on a budget, and paying a sitter to go to a boring meeting just wasn’t very high on my list of priorities. I compromised; I did the newsletter for a while, so that I could say I was contributing. And really, there was an entire contingent of people who positively LIVED for the PTA, so it’s not like they needed me there.
(I do loves me some justification. Hooboy.)
Anyway, here in our new school, I’m more involved. Part of it is that I don’t need to get a sitter, and part of it is that I really want to know what’s happening here because this is a school with issues. Oh, and, um, I’m just a really spectacular mother! Whoops, there go my eyes again.
So I joined the PTA, and I go to the meetings, and while the turnout is fairly abysmal, the meetings are short and well-run and it feels like things are being accomplished, albeit perhaps at the glacial pace befitting a struggling elementary school. Fine.
There was an outdoor workday to take care of the school gardens, and I went and weeded.
They needed volunteers for an upcoming event, and Otto and I both signed up to work.
They called for parents to serve on an advisory board to the school district, and I guess I fell and hit my head, because I volunteered. “It’s only once a month!” they assured me. “We represent the school and we’re in on the decision-making process!” I was told. Sure thing, I said. I want to be part of the solution! Sign me up!
And then I had to go to an actual board meeting.
First of all, CALL ME CRAZY, but I have this philosophy that goes something like this: If you’re going to hold a group of people hostage for discussion for upwards of two hours, one or more of the following must be involved:
A) Class credit
C) An actual decision of some sort, about SOMETHING.
As this particular meeting failed to meet any of my given criteria, it was more or less a bust in my mind regardless of the content, so I suppose it started out at a disadvantage.
Also, we’re supposed to be representing our schools, and together as a team representing the district. I’ll give you three guesses (and the first two don’t count) as to the general make-up of this group of parents. Go on, GUESS!
If you guessed that here in a district where our population of students of color comes in at around 70%, our committee is made up almost entirely of white people, YOU ARE CORRECT!
Furthermore, our board is predominantly middle-aged white women. Several of whom have New York accents, which I find amusing as all hell, because HELLO, this is the south, how did all of my distant aunts and cousins end up on this committee? (And really, seeing as how that’s the case, WHERE ARE THE SNACKS?)
And I understand why this happens—blah blah blah socio-economic factors blah blah blah—and I don’t have to LIKE it, but I suppose I GET it. Nature of the beast. Okay.
But after a protracted discussion about a district-wide dress code (which was fairly entertaining in and of itself, because all of that carrying on about POLO SHIRTS AND KHAKIS FOR THE TENDER YOUNG MASSES, oookay), some district people came in to give a presentation on our gifted program and how it’s being restructured.
And GUESS WHAT! I know this is going to come as a COMPLETE SHOCK, but apparently EVERY SINGLE PERSON ON OUR BOARD has at least one child in the gifted program! I mean, WOW.
This apparently meant that although we are there to represent our schools and report back to them, everyone felt the need to ask SPECIFIC questions or make POINTED statements relative to THEIR CHILD’S EXPERIENCE in the program, including a lot of bitching and moaning about how the changes are bad and no good, because Junior says so.
I could be wrong, but I don’t really think this was the point of the meeting.
So I sat there—with two children in this program being discussed, mostly thinking about how, you know, despite the laundry list of things I’m NOT thrilled about with this school, I have been REALLY IMPRESSED with the gifted program thus far—and listened to all of these people debate the structure of the program and how it used to be better and blah blah freaking blah.
Granted, I missed some of it, because I was fascinated by the guy sitting across from me. One of the few males in the room, he spent 75% of the meeting doing God-knows-what on his Crackberry. And shortly before we finished up he got a phone call that he went ahead and took. Assumedly because he is a Very Important Person who cannot be bothered with turning his full attention towards being privileged and outraged about it.
Me, I’m trying to save my outrage for Monkey’s 504 meeting later this week, but I’ll try to remember to bring some to the next meeting.
Along with a snack.
And maybe some earplugs.