Saturday, April 05, 2014

Seattle Council PTSA Meeting on Monday

"Seattle Council PTSA General Meeting April 7th from 7-9 pm at JSCEE auditoriaum. Superintendent Banda will be attending the first part!

We will also be voting in our new executive board

 Ken Gotsch, CFO, will provide a short presentation on the SPS budget process, and there will be round table discussions with SPS leaders from the following departments:

• Pegi McEvoy (bell times)
• Flip Herndon (capacity)
• Tracy Libros (enrollment)
• Michael Tolley (teaching and learning)
• Ken Gotsch (finance)
• Bernardo Ruiz (family engagement/equity and race)
• Bob Westgard (transportation)
• Carmen Rahm (technology)

See you Monday!

Katherine Schomer
President, SCPTSA"

Editor's note: This might be a great opportunity to let your views be known to both the PTSA and staff on many issues.  


Anonymous said...

This is pretty rich from parents who say the district can't do community engagement. A PTA roundtable with all the district leaders and we find out on a Saturday morning before a Monday meeting? Weak bordering on embarrassing. Family calendars fill up way to fast for a lot of us to attend.

West Mom

Anonymous said...

Actually this meeting was announced 3 weeks ago in our regular newsletter that went out to all PTA boards, this was a reminder email, and to announce the Superintendent was coming as we had just found out he was able to come. I am sorry you did not see the previous announcement.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Repeating for Anonymous (no anonymous comments):
"Actually this meeting was announced 3 weeks ago in our regular newsletter that went out to all PTA boards, this was a reminder email, and to announce the Superintendent was coming as we had just found out he was able to come. I am sorry you did not see the previous announcement."

I will gently point out that it is up to your PTA to put these announcements on their newsletters and for parents to keep up.

mirmac1 said...

Not really Melissa. The SCPTSA's mailing list has been spotty at best. I got an SCPTSA newsletter just over a week ago and there was no mention.

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry there seems to be a glitch somewhere in receiving e-mails from SCPTSA. The eNews went out on March 24th from the e-mail alias, and the very first thing mentioned was the General membership meeting.

"Please join us at our next Seattle Council PTSA General Meeting on April 7th from 7 to 9pm at John Stanford Center auditorium. District leaders will again be available for roundtable discussions on such issues as:
• Transportation
• Enrollment
• Curriculum (particularly Math)
• Budget and Funding
• Family Engagement and Communication"

I'd be happy to help try to figure out why you didn't get that e-mail, or the reminder that was sent on Friday. As you know, PTA's are volunteer run and the e-mail lists are created by local PTA's entering the information into the WAPTA database. SCPTSA then gets that list from them, and since no one and nothing is perfect, it's possible that there is a glitch of some sort.

SCPTSA is very interested in community engagement and we'd like to know that communications are reaching people as they are intended to. And conversely, of course, we want to be hearing from members.

For anyone who is thinks they may not be getting SCPTSA e-mails, please e-mail me at with your name, PTA, your role and your e-mail address, I'll try to figure out what is happening and get it fixed so that we are all communicating.

Trust me, SCPTSA leadership is working hard and very focused on communication and community engagement so thanks for letting us that about your e-mail issue.

Hope to see you all on Monday!


Anonymous said...

There is something very wrong about the set up and the notification of this meeting. A lot of schools have nonactive PTAs or no PTAs at all. Would have thought a meeting like this would be set up by the district, publicized by the district and made available to all parents. The PTA could have co-sponsored it and publicized it specifically to its members. More appropriate.

The PTA does not speak for many (the majority?) of people in this district. The district uses it as a lazy man's way of saying "we've talked to parents."

What happened to the Family Engagement Advisory Committee? That would be the correct place to originate and publicize an all-hands-on-deck access to senior staff members meeting.

Bet 90 percent of this meeting has north end moms of a certain income level as its core attendents. Same old same old and not the most prominent demographic(s) who really need access to senior staff.


Katherine said...

PTA is a very structured organization, and we have to have a minimum number of meetings with our membership each year. Much like local school PTA's we have to approve our budget and nominate new board members. Seattle Council PTSA membership consists of local PTA Presidents or other appointed board delegates. Council meetings provide local Presidents/delegates the opportunity to hear from and talk with district administrators and with one another. The council meetings are designed to be attended by your PTA Presidents/delegates, but we do welcome all members if they choose to attend.

To announce upcoming meetings and the agenda’s at these meetings we email eNews announcements to our voting membership (local school PTA executive board members). We do not send these announcements to all PTA members in Seattle. Occasionally we send emails and announcements to all PTA members, but we try to limit this as much as possible so your local PTA can be your direct contact. We try to only email all members important or time sensitive items, such as a School Board issue that is coming to a vote.

If your local PTA executive board is not receiving these announcements, I apologize. However, one common issue we have is that if your local PTA board has not registered your unit with the State PTA database, then Seattle Council does not know who the executive board or members are. Basically if we don’t know who you are, we can’t communicate with you. It is a problem, and we realize this.

Seattle Council is made of volunteers, and we worked very hard in the fall to contact local PTAs to encourage them to register with the State PTA, but many still have not. Please let us know if you feel you should be receiving emails from us, but are not. You can email with your name, your school PTA, and your board title (if you have one), and we will gladly add you to our list. We realize this is a flawed system of gaining contact information, and we are working on improvements because we do want to hear from and communicate with our members.

I am really sorry for the confusion, as we did announce this meeting previously to local PTA Presidents/delegates, and we reminded them again on Friday.

This is a general Council meeting and we will be conducting PTA business and nominating our new executive board. Thus, the meeting cannot be sponsored by the district. However, we do partner with the district on city wide meetings such as the recent Town Hall presentations regarding the SPS strategic plan.

Again I do apologize if local PTA members feel they are not getting the information they need. Eden is correct we are working hard on a new communication and engagement plan and we hope to launch it soon.

And I too hope to see you Monday!

Katherine Schomer
President, SCPTSA

Anonymous said...


I just got involved with SCPTSA in January, and I was really surprised by the number of times people asked, “what exactly IS SCPTSA and what do they do?” I don’t think you are the only one who has a misunderstanding about the SCPTSA’s role, mission and the composition.

To echo Katherine, the SCPTSA is the district level representation for PTA's in Seattle. SCPTSA has I think around 64 local PTA's out of the 95 schools in the district as members. Not all of Seattle’s schools have PTAs. Some choose to have PTO's which aren't affiliated with PTA and some schools don't have either. There is one vote per member PTA on SCPTSA. SCPTSA communications only go out to our members. Many communications go out only to the local PTA executive committees instead of all of the some PTA members, and local PTA’s get to pick what information they send on to their membership. And no, SCPTSA does not represent all of the parents in the district, but we certainly care about having all voices heard and represented.

One of the benefits of membership in PTA and SCPTSA is that we do have an organization and processes to work together for the good of all of Seattle’s kids. In this instance, we asked for the district leadership to come and talk to us, and they graciously agreed to do so. The presentation by Ken Gotsch about the budget process should be particularly interesting for local PTA leadership, in light of the fact that local PTAs are filling funding gaps in their schools.

Further, counter to your perception, SCPTSA is ACTIVELY working on increasing parent engagement across the district, particularly in underrepresented communities. One of the funded projects of SCPTSA is (quoted from SCPTSA Outreach chair Andrea Brown): "Seattle Council of PTSA Urban Family Engagement Network (UFEN) and Seattle Public Schools Family Connector’s University (FCU) concluded its first family engagement training December 17, 2013 with the presentation of UFEN/FCU participant’s “group projects”. This 12-session family engagement program is part of a new partnership between Seattle Council of PTSA and Seattle Public Schools aimed at parents in communities that are traditionally underserved and underrepresented in Seattle Public Schools."

And, the current SCPTSA board is certainly not skewed currently toward north end representation. 3 of the 4 executive board members of SCPTSA are from the Central and Southeast regions, and I believe that of the 11 board positions, only 3 are from the North.

I hope that clarified a bit, and thanks for your interest and concern.

Anonymous said...

I think Southie's perception is based on experience that is valid.
Sometimes, "north" is synonymous with a certain demographic for underrepresented parents. For too long, PTA in Seattle has had a bit of a Junior League component to it. There are plenty of higher income/college educated-or-plus families in all parts of town. My guess is that this demographic, regardless of geography, still dominates the executive board. If I'm wrong, it will make my day.

I'm very thankful that outreach is underway. I would caution Eden to not get too caught up in rebutting the particulars of Southie's concerns. Southie's experience is obviously valid or "outreach" wouldn't be necessary. Approaching people like Southie in a debate mode, while at the same time advertising inclusion, threatens to disenfranchise some families even further.

--enough already

Lynn said...

enough already,

I'd be interested to see the demographic data on the individuals who have expressed interest in serving on the executive board. Do you have that info? My guess is that there aren't many hotly contested positions in the SCPTSA - but I could be wrong.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"For too long, PTA in Seattle has had a bit of a Junior League component to it."

I do not agree. Most of the members (sadly, mostly women) are NOT "Junior League" types at all. They are not in it for any kind of attention or glory. They work really hard.

Could things be better? Yes, but I have found most of the Board membership open to listening (which is, to me, a far cry from years past).

Anonymous said...

Lynn and Enough Already (and Southie too)--

Thanks for the comments, and sorry if I come off "in debate mode" I do see the point and don't mean to invalidate it, though do want folks to know the good work that SCPTSA is doing. I've heard this criticism of PTAs in general, and I get it.

And I really just wanted everyone to know that in just the short time I've been here, this effort to engage underrepresented parent groups has been a focus of many conversations. Another example is that during the growth boundaries issue last fall it was VP from SCPTSA that testified about concern for the lack of real engagement of the Parents of the SE. And there IS lots of effort currently on raising funds and building PTA's in the SE.

I'm not saying its perfect or that we don't need to do more. What I am saying is that the people who volunteer for PTA in any capacity are hero's in my book, because there is a need to be filled and instead of sitting on the sidelines, they are putting time and energy into efforts that help our kids.

From what I've heard it is actually hard to find people to fill these positions because they take time and energy, and many folks don't have much to give after jobs and kids and the rest of life. The legislative position has been empty for 6 months or so before I came along and was willing to pour some sweat into it. (and by time, I mean TIME on top of my full time job and 3 kids and so on)

No one is paying any of the PTA volunteers, and yet they are showing up and doing the work. I guess basically what I am saying is that it would be nice if there was a little appreciation and recognition of what good IS being done instead of the quick rush to judgment about how terrible things are.

Thanks again for your thoughts,


Anonymous said...

As an alternative school parent, I find this meeting troubling. We have a site council. Many alt schools have site councils. We get little interface with district higher ups. Truth be told, during the Goodloe-Johnson years we did our best to hide from the district higher ups. But that was for self preservation, not because we didn't want to engage.

I think I can speak for other alt schools in saying our parents would like and in fact need a seat at the table in working toward district planning for all district kids.

Unfortunately the PTSA in the past couple years, and again as demonstrated by this meeting, is more than happy to represent itself as "the" parent group. And the district is more than happy to see it that way. FWIW ex-board member Michael DeBell was a big part of this culture/attitude, which apparently has carried over to the new administration. That attitude really stunk for the rest of us during DeBell's time on the board, and it still stinks.

There is a reason many of us do not have PTSAs. Our schools have rejected the hierarchy of the state PTSA system. We have rejected the dues that PTSA mandates for participation. We don't like being seen as bake sale moms whose main purpose is to fund our pathetically lacking school budgets, which is what far too many district personnel believe is the core purpose of PTSA. And some of our site councils haven't liked the tone nor the politics of some of the past Seattle PTSA councils.

What the PTSA has done with this meeting, with the district's help, is suck all the energy for good parent-district communication into its own group. I know from past experience that when site councils have tried to interface with the Seattle PTSA, or to interface with the district, it has been tough going. So this meeting really stings.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that district parents wanting facetime to address their issues with top district brass is a big tent situation. Yet this meeting has a very small tent feel to it. It reinforces every reason some of us didn't want a PTSA at our school in the first place.

Alt School Mama

Anonymous said...

When family members are unhappy about the dinner or laundry situation, I encourage them to take care of it without my assistance, b/c I'm not a servant to be ordered about - I'm a volunteer in the household, working for the common good, not for them personally.

I sort of feel the same way about SCPTSA.

If an alternative school chooses not to have a PTA - but to have a site council - why should they get bent out of shape about SCPTSA and what it does or does not offer to them? Form a PTA. Ditto those that have a PTO.

I understand there are dues, etc to being a PTA and perhaps not to the other forms - charters, % of parents joining, that type of thing can be hard - but I'm willing to bet that SCPTSA would bend over backward to find a way to bring in more PTA members at schools with high FRL, or to figure out a way to lower fees to get enough members.

If a school has tried to form a PTA, found it insurmountable, asked for help and received none, then they have a complaint. But I'm not sure why schools that choose not to participate in PTA - but have a different form of organization on purpose - complain?

Yes, I probably sound condescending - I realize that -- but come on, if someone wants to be part of what's going on at the dinner table, they have to get themselves to the table. The dinner table is not coming to them. We just had this tonight, kid having a tantrum in the back and not coming to dinner. Dinner went on anyway. It wasn't going to stop for one person who didn't join. That was the kid's choice.

I think that yes, SCPTSA needs to outreach to schools that need help starting a PTA, perhaps even to the extent of helping find a treasurer - the hardest position in many cases - but if a school chooses to do something other than a PTA, that's their choice. I don't see how they can choose site council or PTO and then complain about not being part of SCPTSA. Join then.

Ditto the complaints about feeling demographic/cultural gap with those in leadership - volunteer. If it's too hard/time consuming, that's okay to say -- it is for A LOT of people, self included - and I will be the last to criticize someone for limiting their overwhelming and thankless volunteer commitments. BUT the lack of volunteers doesn't mean that on its face the SCPTSA excludes. It just means that those happen to be the people who volunteered. Criticizing them for who they happen to be, and for volunteering, and for not being more like [fill in blank] or for other people not being able to volunteer doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Counter-productive.

It would make much more sense to take the limited time a person does have to engage and explain the issues or needs of the [south end/immigrant communities/single parent families/less educated parents/etc] to SCPTSA, if that community feels their needs are not understood, so that those who ARE advocating can do so from a position of knowledge and understanding. Tearing down the volunteers merely for who they are seems very counterproductive.

I would say, volunteer or educate those who do volunteer - but please, don't just throw rocks. They try. Help.

Eden, for instance, tries to learn about other areas and issues -- and she's on SCPTSA - and reads this blog - so if there are specific needs ... how can schools trying to get a PTA get a treasurer? How can schools where a low percent of families have transportation get to JSCEE for meetings? Whatever... step up and SPEAK UP with concrete needs. Don't just criticize the [white/north end/college educated/fill in the blank] volunteers. Please.

That tear each other down is EXACTLY WHAT KEEPS THIS DISTRICT FROM FEELING OUR RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION. We're too busy picking on each other north-to-south to line up arm and arm demanding better curriculum, transparency, true engagement, privacy, special ed placement that makes sense and is stable.... you name it.

Signed: in it together

Anonymous said...

I have been an active member of PTA for years. According to your statement, does that mean that I'm not just "throwing rocks."

For me, the people who have chosen other paths (or have not been reached out to in the first place) have as legitimate of an opinion as I do.

There is obviously a problem here or outreach wouldn't be a major objective for the SCPTA. You can't have it both ways. If you disagree with that being an objective because it leads to the airing of dirty laundry or real life experiences that don't fit your own perspective, maybe you can take it up with leadership.

You can't increase outreach by ignoring why people are not participating in the first place.
Don't ask, don't tell?

Divide and conquer of the PTA is, in my opinion, not a major problem in the district. Not listening to the concerns of others who differ from your experience and opinion (and comparing them to children having tantrums) is what leads to divide and conquer in this district.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

hell is paved with good intentions
-samuel Johnson

the problem is that PTA is a dues required, volunteer organization. It skews middle class by definition. you can't blame parents who volunteer and work with the system they find at their child's school, but some parents have taken it on themselves to switch to a PTO or use a site council or foundation to avoid district meddling or whatever. this whole thing in another example of inequity in the district. And the district isn't and shouldn't be the party to address the problem. The PTSA needs to reform. Drop the dues voting requirement, provide assistance in the bookkeeping area to all PTAs and help schools that have the higher number of working parents and a therefore smaller pool of volunteers, by providing advice and logistical help. We need the parents of the richer schools to interact with those from less affluent schools.
I too think the make-up of the meeting will interesting.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"When family members are unhappy about the dinner or laundry situation, I encourage them to take care of it without my assistance, b/c I'm not a servant to be ordered about - I'm a volunteer in the household, working for the common good, not for them personally."

Ha! Love it.

"We're too busy picking on each other north-to-south to line up arm and arm demanding better curriculum, transparency, true engagement, privacy, special ed placement that makes sense and is stable.... you name it. "

Absolutely. If parents banded together, the district would be much more responsive.

FremontTroll, I kind of wish Seattle PTA would leave the state/national pta. Again, sending a message.

PTA, as a national entity, is not something I would want to belong to anymore. They say they speak for parents but we all know it's not that many AND they certainly don't take any real vote based on outreach.

The state PTA is similarly tone-deaf.

It would be interesting if an entire district of PTA walked away, formed their own group and then became the group that supports its members AND is the real voice of parents.

Not to say PTA isn't useful as it is but, in its current form, I hear a lot of frustration.

Anonymous said...

Knowing both this district and the PTSA, I'd say tonight's meeting was made with the best of intentions...the PTSA is rightly urging the district to do more parent engagement and the district is trying to do so. So props to both.

However, the critiques here are also valid. The district really needs to understand that this meeting will not suffice in making top staff available to parents. Assuming high level administrators have limited time to meet as a group in the evening with parents, it needs to do at least one more one of these meetings this year, publicized far, far, far more than this one was, and via groups in addition to (other than!) the PTSA.

For its part, the PTSA would not be mightily disliked in some quarters if it would reach out to other parent groups when working on district initiatives. Why does Our Schools Coalition get a bad name? Because it doesn't seem to have true engagement with a real range of parents. That's where the PTSA finds itself. Sure, it exists for its own membership, but if it's going to position itself as leading parent district initiatives, it needs to bring in other parent groups. The commenter above who says "If you don't like the state of things join the PTSA" misses this point entirely.

Finally, it is also true that if the PTSA is going to get on a high horse about engagement, it should have its own house in order. It looks like it is trying to do so, but the fact that the majority of PTSA members probably have no idea that this meeting is happening says it has a long way to go internally before it tells the district how to do its job. (And no, the district is not doing nearly as good a job as it should be doing.)


Anonymous said...

A few years ago, I gave a list of alt-school contacts to Bernardo Ruiz and he created a non-PTA PTO list. I was getting messages for while. What happened to that?

Chris S.

Anonymous said...

@ Eden. You have a newcomer's view of SCPTSA. Anyone whose watched it the past few years knows it most definitely has not been about all of the district's kids.

The SCPTA council has been run as a Northeast moms clique concerned above all else about their kids in the Eckstein and Hamilton areas. It worked hard to get "those kids" who live in the Lake City area and north kicked out of Eckstein. It barely lifted a finger about issues elsewhere in the district.

It has never endorsed giving time or money to schools with little resources.

It has not spoken out against state PTSA political initiatives aligning with Reformies instead of other diverse viewpoints

It could care less about other parent groups, some of them doing much better work on behalf of kids and schools of little means than it ever will. Instead, in it comes, tramp, tramp, tramp, announcing it will now be doing great things in engagement for all. Then it rounds up the top brass on behalf of its membership and tells no one, oh except the parents who are always "in the know" anyhow.

If things have changed for the better this year, with new leadership and a new commitment to issues beyond the Bryant and Eckstein and Hamilton moms, hoorah. But this meeting is not evidence of that. It has grown not diminished mistrust of PTSA.


Katherine said...

I think everyone is forgetting that PTA is a hierarchical membership organization. As a requirement as part of that organization, the purpose of this meeting was not to make top district staff available to parents across Seattle. It is a “General Council Membership” meeting for our members, which are local school PTA Presidents or their delegates. One of the Council’s tasks is to provide local Presidents/delegates the opportunity to hear from and talk with district administrators and with one another. That is the purpose of this meeting, and we generally have this meeting with district staff every spring.

Thus we invited our members to the meeting, which is about 64 PTA Presidents (or their delegate) in Seattle. However, we actually invited not once but twice, all 650 + registered PTA board members across the city. Now as I stated earlier we gladly allow all parent members to attend these meetings, community partners, and other non-PTA parent groups. We are not excluding anyone, but this is a general meeting where we are not only allowing our members (again PTA board members in Seattle) some time to interact with district leaders, but we are also conducting PTA business and voting in new board members (Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer). That is one of the benefits of PTA membership, and paying those dues. Yes, I would agree the PTA as an organization has flaws, but currently I have to work within the confines of that structure.

SCPTSA does not represent all parents, we know that. We are one parent advocacy group of many in Seattle that represents about 10,000 parent members from about 64 local school PTAs. I would love to have more partnerships and connections with other PTO’s and Councils. But let’s be honest, none of the PTO’s or Councils have contacted me about working together or having joint meetings with the district to make change. I think it is more accurate for all organizations, including SCPTSA, to take the shared blame for this lack of cooperation rather than blaming SCPTSA alone because we are one of the larger advocacy groups. The current SCPTSA board is actively working with other advocacy groups in some of the underserved areas of Seattle and we want to unite and work together with other groups, so share the responsibility and work with me. My email is

Katherine Schomer
President, SCPTSA

Katherine said...

To Southie and “enough already” I AGREE with you on many of your points. I definitely agree with your assessment of the perception of SCPTSA, and even though I don’t think this perception is completely accurate today, the perception is still real and something Seattle Council has to overcome. One of the reasons I “stepped-up” and joined the council a year ago was to address this problem. I am from the “Central Area” and I wanted more representation on the board.

However, let’s please remember we are volunteers. I agree whole-heartily that SCPTSA needs to do more outreach to our local PTA’s, we need to get more members, and we need to be more representative of our members. Our board is working really hard on a strategy to accomplish this. Using my limited time (I do have a full-time job), with a partially filled board (about 3-5 positions unfilled at any one time), and limited resources we are doing the best we can. A limited few have stepped up to try and accomplish this very big task. Is it perfect?--- NOT even close but I do feel we are moving in the right direction and I think you will start to see some of these changes become more visible very soon.

The current SCPTSA board has 2 people from the central area, 3 from the South end, 3 from West Seattle, and 3 from the North. That seems pretty representative to me, and we are actively recruiting for more positions.

One way to make change if you are not happy with the direction or make-up of the SCPTA board is either volunteer to be on the board, or vote for who you want to be on it. As I stated above, we are in fact voting in new members tonight. Make sure your PTA delegate/President is at the meeting to vote and represent your local PTA.

Katherine Schomer
President, SCPTSA

Anonymous said...

Good lord...tone deafness. It's always tone deafness with the PTSA. Why can't the leaders ever drop their "you're right but we're REALLY right" attitude. It sounds so, so, so much like the district when it pats the parents on the head and then sends them on the way while it does exactly what it wanted in the first place.

But let’s be honest, none of the PTO’s or Councils have contacted me about working together or having joint meetings with the district to make change.

How about: Let's be honest: No PTOs or other groups are likely to reach out to a PTSA that has not been welcoming in the past. The past includes this school year.

How about: Let's be honest: The PTSA meets regularly during the school day at JSCEE with administrators but has never to my knowledge invited other groups to do so. How collaborative!

How about: Let's be honest: Now that the PTSA has been called out on this meeting its leadership is trying to spread the blame around " I think it is more accurate for all organizations, including SCPTSA, to take the shared blame for this lack of cooperation. What??!! Why would other groups share the blame of a party to which they were neither notified nor invited.

How about: At the same time PTSA leadership mouths the words 'we are but one parent group among many" it is still not-too-subtly saying but we are still the 800 lb. gorilla, so deal with it. I mean, seriously...this quote isn't collaborative. It's "get over it": We are one parent advocacy group of many in Seattle that represents about 10,000 parent members from about 64 local school PTAs.

This is my last post on this thread because like last year and the year before and the year before, and the year before something about this group means it just doesn't get the larger parent community in SPS.


Katherine said...

First of all SCPTSA does meet with JSCEE staff about once a month and actually we are inviting other groups to these meetings. At our last meeting we invited the Executive Director of Community & Parents for Public Schools of Seattle to our last meeting, and we will be continuing to invite other groups. Again we are making changes, but it takes time.

I am not blaming other parent groups for this meeting tonight that we called with our members. We are a membership organization and I am not apologizing for having a meeting with our members. We only invited our members because it was intended to be that way. I am merely explaining why we did not invite the whole city of Seattle to this meeting. Yes, we need to collaborate with other groups and engage more parents, I acknowledged that, but we also have to serve our members. We recently collaborated with the district, on the series of SPS Town Hall meetings to give all parents across the city a chance to voice their concerns. There will be other opportunities for non-members to engage with us and the district.

My point about shared blame was to point out that all groups have to be welcoming, not just SCPTSA. It takes participation from all the groups. Why is SCPTSA responsible for it all? That is a big expectation. It is unreasonable for PTO’s or independent Councils to expect us to invite them to our membership meetings-- when they are not members. Instead of waiting for us to approach, other groups can also approach us. It goes two ways. We have approached other community and parent advocacy groups to work with us this year, but we cannot possibly contact them all, it is a slow process.

I am not the paid Executive Director of SCPTSA, with 40 hours a week devoted to this. I am a full-time working mom, with two small children, and I easily volunteer an extra 20 hours a week for SCPTSA and it is not enough time. I acknowledge that we need to do more, but we don’t have the manpower or resources to do it, and others are not stepping up. There are a lot of critiques-- but no solutions and no one stepping up to help with the solutions.

In part why SCPTSA or other councils are made up of the typical higher-income non-working women, is because the demands of the job require it. They are the only ones with the time or resources to meet the demand, but yet you critique them for what they do. You want diversity and representation, but you don’t allow for it. Go back and read this entire blog, read all the expectations that are being made of SCPTSA, and please tell me how working parents or single parents could even possibly accomplish it as a volunteer.

As a working parent, I know I find it daunting. Yet I am going to step up and continue to make this work, because I am the only one who has volunteered. I hear the voices on this blog, I hear that change has to be made, that PTA needs to reach to more audiences, and that they need to include more parents. I hear all of this, and as I stated before our board is working within the confines of PTA rules, our time, and resources to make the changes you are expecting. Please allow us some room and time to get it all done, offer help, and reach out to us with problems as well as solutions.

Thank you,
Katherine Schomer

Melissa Westbrook said...

One thing to keep in mind - if people want to run the SCPTSA, go ahead, gather a group and run. You'll likely end up being president or vice-president or on the Board and you can run it as you like.

That would be interesting.

Melissa Westbrook said...

At the SCPTA meeting, going through region reports and guess what? There is no rep from either NE or NW and hasn't been all year.

mirmac1 said...

I would ascribe some of the blame for the current "troubles" to a superintendent who, from the get-go, never looked beyond "elected" parent representatives. Seriously, what miniscule group is this? One does not get face-time with Banda unless you have some title before or after your name or are on Gates' payroll. I don't know whether this is because Banda came from a district with many struggling families scraping to make a living in the shadow of Walt Disney's wonderland - with a handful of parents who were thought to represent the many. That is unfortunate because he really is quite engaging on a personal level - if you get beyond the gatekeepers and BS.

zareen fatima said...

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