Source: Sherman Publications

A Parent's Perspective: Kelli Horst
Parents carry on PTA vision

February 16, 2011

Have you seen the trailer for a new animated movie where moms on Earth are abducted to raise alien babies on Mars? Clearly, these aliens know that moms are a powerful force!

More than 100 years ago, two moms founded an organization – a nationwide movement, really – in a time when social activism was scorned and women did not have the right to vote.

In 1897, Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst convened the National Congress of Mothers in Washington, D.C. to involve parents in their children’s education.

They felt it was up to the mothers of this country to improve children’s lives and address social problems affecting families, such as child labor, rampant childhood disease, high infant mortality, delinquency and a criminal justice system cruel to youth.

That organization became Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the largest volunteer child advocacy organization in the nation today. Each February 17, PTA celebrates Founder’s Day as a reminder of the substantial role PTA has played locally, regionally and nationally in supporting parent involvement and working on behalf of all children and families.

The PTA mission is kept alive daily by six million PTA members – 2,700 alone right here in Clarkston – who volunteer in our schools and advocate for public education.

How is PTA impacting the learning environment in Clarkston schools? This year alone, more than $140,000 and thousands of volunteer hours have been invested in our schools.

We represent the voices of parents to our state legislators, school administrators and board of education, championing adequate and stable funding for education, anti-bullying legislation, curriculum and other policy changes, the fight against childhood obesity, and literacy.

At Pine Knob Elementary, students participate in the “Like the Book? Keep the Book!” program by visiting the “PTA library” of gently used books and choosing a just-right book with the assistance of a PTA volunteer.

The PTA at Bailey Lake Elementary purchases a book for each child in the school to read and keep during March Reading Month. The book becomes the topic of numerous discussions in classrooms and at home.

At Springfield Plains Elementary, PTA funds supported the renovation of an outdoor track, giving the gym teacher and students new opportunities to participate safely in outdoor physical fitness activities in the fall and spring.

PTA is the go-to resource for parents at Clarkston Junior High.

They bring in speakers from the school district and community to educate parents on topics ranging from critical thinking and developmental assets for adolescents to class scheduling, free Google apps for students and how to use Parent Gateway as a planning tool.

The PTAs at Sashabaw Middle School and Clarkston High School fund teachers’ innovative ideas through the awarding of mini-grants.

Research shows that parent involvement is crucial to the health and well-being of a child and promotes student success. Students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades and pass their classes, attend school regularly, have better social skills, and go on to postsecondary education.

PTA gives parents numerous opportunities and resources to be involved with and connected to your child’s education. Make this the month you commit to being an advocate for your child.

Visit www.clarkstonpta.org to connect with the PTA at your child’s school.

Kelli Horst is president of Clarkston PTA Council and mother of two elementary-age boys.