So last night at Roosevelt we had our final Parent Education night of the year. I was organizing these nights and I thought rather than having a formal program that I would get a panel and let parents engage them in a discussion about Roosevelt in specific and high schools in SPS in general. I invited our principal, Brian Vance, the high school director, Michael Tolley, and our Board director, Harim Martin-Morris. All of them showed up, ready to go. This had been in our parent newsletter for months, in the parent e-mail bulletin for months and we put it on the website in a prominent place for the last 2 weeks. (I also sent an e-mail two weeks ago to the PTAs at Eckstein and Hamilton, given that we get a lot of freshman from those two schools.)
We had about 12 parents show up.
(And these were lucky people because we had a great and lively discussion. I found Mr. Tolley to be exactly as I thought he was; bright and committed to change. Ditto with Harim Martin-Morris. All 3 of them went beyond pat answers and got to some of the nitty-gritty of what is happening or what needs to happen in Seattle public high schools. I was worried we wouldn't fill an hour and a half of time but boy, once we got started the time flew by. The best part was there was a parent who had had his daughter in private school so a lot was new to him and he asked some pretty frank questions.)
It's been this way all year for the other education nights and the PTSA meetings.
And I know it's not just us. I've heard from other PTSA leaders and even Sharon Rodgers, the Seattle Council PTSA president.
We are all just baffled. I'm guessing it's lack of time rather than lack of interest (but I could be wrong). Is the PTSA passe? Not relevant? I'm just surprised that the overwhelming majority of parents at Roosevelt don't want to participate, not even once a year, in any PTSA event. And I don't say that in a prideful way but in a puzzled way because really, if you want to find out the latest news and get answers, going to a PTSA event is the way to do it.
I see, from viewing other schools' websites (I'm talking middle and high school here), that many PTA roles are not filled elsewhere.
At Roosevelt, we have decided that the PTSA will get as much done as we can with the Board and volunteers we have. My co-president and I already do multiple jobs and we're not going to ask people who step up to do one job on the Board to do others. It's not fair. And, if that means some things fall by the wayside, so be it. Parents are voting with their dollars and their feet.
I just wish I knew why.