Musings of a Disgruntled PTA Member


Musings of a Disgruntled PTA MemberJust a year ago, I was excitedly prattling to my daughter about kindergarten round-up, gearing her up for a grand new adventure. Despite the overwhelming emotions a mother feels over her first-born heading off to kindergarten, I had visions of parenting grandeur: volunteering in her classroom, chaperoning field trips, meeting all of her new friends and their parents, and lending a helping hand on the PTA.  

But here I am, fewer than two months away from the end of her kindergarten school year and not one of those things have come to fruition.

To be fair, I work full time so it’s a little hard to volunteer in the classroom. And while I was asked to be a chaperone for the fall pumpkin patch field trip, it unfortunately got rescheduled twice due to rain and then finally canceled altogether. I’ve not met any classroom friends except as she waves bye to them on the few days I’ve picked her up from school. And lastly, there’s the PTA, which has perhaps been the biggest disappointment of all.

After filling out the PTA application — diligently checking the boxes in which I’d love to offer my assistance and sending in my $7 membership fee — I found myself expecting something, though I’m not sure exactly what. Somewhere along the way, I must have missed the memo that the PTA is actually a top-secret society that you have to be inducted into before they’ll let you attend their meetings because not a single meeting invitation or announcement has shown up in my inbox eight months later.

So color me surprised when I was surfing Facebook and a post appeared at the tops of my newsfeed announcing that the PTA meeting for that night had been canceled, as had the upcoming father-daughter dance. (Confession: these visions of grandeur parenting had actually caused me to follow and turn on notifications for the PTA Facebook page, which is probably the only reason I saw it to begin with.) As a paying PTA member, why didn’t I know there was supposed to be a PTA meeting that evening? Furthermore, why am I just now hearing about a father-daughter dance planned eight days away? I scrolled through the page timeline to see when I must have overlooked the announcement about the meeting and the dance, but nothing to be found. In fact, no posts had been made for two months.

I did what any civilized but concerned parent would do. I reached out to the PTA to offer my assistance, specifically with communications since it was apparently lacking and that happens to be my area of expertise/employment. While I don’t want to belittle the efforts of those who are serving on this top secret committee, I would like to briefly point out that:

  1. There is a link to a PTA website on their Facebook page that doesn’t exist.
  2. The County Schools website currently has PTA information on their website from the 2016-2017 school year.
  3. Nowhere on the Facebook Page or County Schools website can you actually find a list of those actually serving on the PTA board.
  4. Only after inquiring as to why I wasn’t receiving emails, I was told their primary methods of communication are the school marquee and sending flyers home in students’ backpacks.

So needless to say, there’s always room for improvement. In reaching out to the PTA, I kindly asked to receive an invite to the next meeting and said that I would love to get involved.

… (Please note the ellipsis, which is to indicate the radio silence I have received from the PTA for either assistance or notice of any meetings).

Lo and behold, do you know what popped up in my Newsfeed during spring break this week? An announcement of a rescheduled father-daughter dance eight days away. So by the time that flyer makes it way home via backpacks (given that it’s currently spring break), families will have FOUR DAYS of notice about an upcoming dance and that’s assuming a flyer actually makes it into the backpacks at all!

But there it is; I’ve made the plea and the effort. My daughter has fewer than two months of her kindergarten year left and I really just wanted to make the most of it. Instead of waiting on a PTA meeting invite to show up in my inbox, I’ll just look forward to chaperoning the spring field trip instead.


  1. New to town, experienced PTA member from another state, children older than yours, same experience on the elementary level.

  2. As someone who sits on a PTO board and has for many years…I’m sorry you feel this way. Please know that all of us on PTO boards are just moms/dads volunteering what little bit of time we can to help make our school a better place. We mess up, we don’t always answer emails in a timely manner, etc. most of the board members at my school work full or part time jobs. We are just hustling to get it all done. Also, often times short notice is not on our part. Anything we do has to be approved by the school. Anything we send home has to be approved by the school. I know from our school we have lots of parents who sign up to help at the beginning of the year. Then we send out a nice email asking for help and…nothing. often times it’s easier if we just hop in and get jobs done quickly ourselves. We have not had a meeting for the general school this year. We had 2 meetings last year and no one showed up except board members and staff and there was plenty of notice to parents and free childcare for the kids. So please don’t think/speak poorly of pta/PTO. I don’t know what school you are at(nor do I need to) but just know they are probably doing the very best they can to get done what needs to be done, to include parents, to follow guidelines set bythe administration and to do their paying jobs, parent, be a wife/husband and everything else.

    • Thanks Amanda! I don’t think that of all PTA groups, and of course, this is my first run in with one. People have told me they’ve had positive experiences in other schools/areas/states. I also work for an association and I know from experience that often times when you ask for help/ volunteers, it’s pulling teeth to get people to do things. So I am a little surprised that when I’m offering to help, they aren’t taking me up on it. I don’t believe they are doing the best they can in this scenario based on my interactions, but it doesn’t look like I will ever know since PTA members apparently don’t get invited to the meetings.

  3. Ha..pretty sure you are at CBE, as am I, and I feel the exact same way! No clue what my membership fee for me, hubs, and daughter(also in K) goes for. I also saw the daddy/daughter dance is this week, and it’s $20 at the door. Guess I thought if you were a member of PTA, events would be discounted or something? This is our first year of public school, so I didn’t really have a clue what to expect. I did go to the first mtg of the year, but since there was no ‘business’ it was not informative. And that they have 3 schools under one PTA, how in the world does the preschool have the same needs as the middle school or Elem as preschool, etc.. Seems like there should be 3 PTA’s and they should actually get involved in doing events with those schools and families. And hey, hopefully I’ll see you on the spring field trip (if all K classes go on the same day)!

    • I don’t understand why there aren’t separate PTAs either, or at the very least, a designated “officer” to cover each school and handle communications. But yes, I agree with you that I think they would all have separate needs. And yes, very much looking forward to the field trip 🙂

  4. My squash tee is in K at CBES too. The lack of communication is maddening, and when they do offer some small tidbit of info it’s usually clear as mud.
    See you at the field trip! (And maybe the next PTA meeting if they tell us when it is!)

  5. Having served on a PTA board, I have to agree with all that Amanda said. It is easy from the outside looking in to point fingers at the board, but they are just doing the best they can. There are limitations and approvals and hundreds of things that are required and those are never shared with the parents. I am sure this year has been a nightmare with flu and flooding and rescheduled events are out of their hands. As for the fee, most of that money goes to the state and county and the little amount left is kept to do as much good as possible. If they are not responding anymore, it maybe because they are doing all that they can. Even if you have offered help, they may not know what to do with it. The year is ending and they are scrambling to end things well. Remember, grace goes a long way.

    • I’m not without grace and am still willing to serve. My background is in communications so it’s very difficult for me to understand how any membership driven organization could fail to communicate. And that’s precisely what I’ve offered to do on their behalf. To offer once to help out would be one thing, but then to send a message to the president asking for an invitation to the next meeting to participate/get involved and not receive one is certainly not doing the best they can. I completely understand that this year has had its struggles, and yes, I’m sure there are many factors going on that I don’t know about – but that’s precisely the problem is the lack of communication that might make the members more understanding. I am a full-time employee, have two side gigs, serve as a contributor for KMB, and help serve on my HOA as well so it is impossible to believe that no one can set aside 5 minutes of their day to craft an email once a month with updates or set aside one meeting to inform members of a meeting. Or are members not supposed to come to meetings? Is it strictly for board members?

  6. You can volunteer on our PTO!! We would LOVE someone to make us a website! We don’t even have one. Sorry you had this experience.

  7. I was on our PTO board (Secretary/Vice Prez) for the last 7 years- before moving here to TN. It IS a ton of work and a labor of love to run a PTO/A. And yes, we are working parents who also put a lot of volunteer hours into the school because we believe the kids are worth it.

    I’m so sorry you had a bad experience though! I know in our PTO, there was no fee to be a member and we loved our parent volunteers!! My volunteer recruitment spiel was always “we’ll ask you 10 times to volunteer and feel free to say no 9 out of those 10, but it’s that 1 yes that counts”. We knew every parent was busy (like us PTO officers) and we all did the best we could to shuffle everything in our lives. I simply don’t understand them not utilizing volunteers.
    I hope one day you find a PTA that deserves you!


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