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Welcome to My PTA Nightmare

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Katie Weinstein: PTA meetings turn me into the naughty 7th grader I once was. These are the same buildings where I went to school, so the smell memories are strong. Bleach and tinkle on the first floor; pre-teen sweat and old lunches assault your nose as you ascend the stairs. The chairs in the empty auditorium are set up in a friendly circle, more like a self-help group than a PTA meeting. Where to sit? I like to position myself close to our Principal, who favors my sarcasm and side notes. He has been to, Oh let's say 225, PTA meetings in his career. His patience with the same controlling She-Bears and old cardboard pizza is amazing. I would shoot myself if I had to listen to this for that many years.

Parents Teachers Meeting

Don't get me wrong -- PTA meetings can be important. At times when budget cuts are threatening all the extra programs, PTAs can be the support the school needs. It just seems to go to their heads. Then, comes the entitlement. Barf.

It is a typical agenda tonight. I found out last week that my favorite Principal is retiring, which means I will not attend any more PTA meetings. No one else thinks I am funny. Most of the controlling mothers that run the PTA would like to put me on detention or leave me in the hall until I can think about my bad behavior and return to the meeting with my head hanging low. Not going to happen. I feel it is my job to keep them in their place, scrambling for the microphone and not quite sure of their power. I have been at these meetings for six years now. That has some seniority. I volunteer on a regular basis, so they cannot ban me. More often than not, I hold the conch shell and try out my brand of stand-up comedy. I think they would like to write bad things about me on the bathroom walls.

During the meeting, the crowd of 15 wants to make a wish list for the new Principal. I remind everyone that we have no say in the matter, but they still want to banter around who it should be, as if they are a political cabinet with pull. The Principal, sitting next to me laughing, is not dead and buried. I hope he shows up for some laughs next year before I really get kicked out.

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15 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous April 7, 2009, 11:50 AM

Why do PTA presidents acts like they own the school?

G April 7, 2009, 12:46 PM

I LOVE this. It’s so true. I stopped going to PTA meetings because of this kind of thing. Perhaps I need to take your approach. :)

Barb April 7, 2009, 1:18 PM

My first reaction to this is, if you have negative expectations, then that’s what your experience will be like. But I can’t speak for your school, so that may not be a fair assessment.

As a full-time mom to two with a full-time job, I make it a priority to be involved in my daughter’s PTA because I feel strongly that I don’t want other people making decisions for me. Therefore, I encourage you to keep going to the meetings, keep making your voice heard, talk to other parents if you feel strongly enough about it, and stay involved. It IS your job to “keep them in their place” and it’s their job to do the same to you. There’s no room for egos in this setting, and just because you feel outnumbered doesn’t mean you should give up.

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