Does the PTA Speak for You?

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At the last Jefferson County School Board meeting on April 5, one of the most astonishing testimonies I heard with regard to the tax increase being debated was from Keri Lee, the President of the Jeffco PTA. She mentioned that she represented 13,000 PTA members and that the membership was fully behind the push for a tax increase to benefit schools and prevent “further cuts”.  Is this accurate?  I have spoken to several Jeffco Moms who do not agree.

I have been asked why the PTA is involved in political activities.  I did not understand it either, so I did some homework.  The PTA (as opposed to a PTO which is purely individual school centered) is a national lobbying organization based in Washington DC.  They set an agenda and each subsidiary, the Colorado PTA, the district PTA down to the school level PTA follows that agenda.  The National slogan “EveryChild, OneVoice” does not appear to take into account differing points of view with regard to what exactly is in the best interest of children. PTA lobbying efforts have tended to focus on school funding and the continual need for more.

For those of you who have been following my comments over the past several months, you already understand that we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.  Using the 2004/05 school year as a baseline, Jeffco public schools have spent a cumulative 450M additional general fund dollars through the 2010/11 school year.  The rate of increase is higher than inflation despite declining enrollment.

How is this possible, you might wonder?  Well, in addition to state funds, the district received money from a Mill Levy which passed in 2004 – approximately $35M per year (or $245M over the last seven years).  In that time period, on-going expenses (salaries and PERA contributions) have increased at rates far higher than inflation.  In fact, since 2005, the district’s contribution to the state retirement plan (PERA) has grown to be $30M more per year (an increase of 65%!), and it will only go higher.   The district receives Title I funds (for at risk schools), Federal ARRA dollars, Edu-Jobs dollars and Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF) monies as well as increased bus and athletic fees.

Perhaps it would be reasonable to ask for more money, if what the district received was well-spent and outcomes matched expectations.  What Jeffco has experienced is essentially flat achievement gains.  While the district average for the 10th Grade Math CSAP scores are somewhat higher than the state average, is a 42% proficiency really good enough?  Jeffco Students First wants the district to AIM HIGHER and be creative when it comes to school management and cost savings.   Some would have us believe that more taxes for education is a moral litmus test.  Jeffco Students First wants each child to have an opportunity for the best education possible, but do not believe more money for the current system is the answer.

The next regular School Board meeting will be held this Thursday, May 3rd at JeffCo’s Education Center located at 1829 Denver West Drive, Golden 80401 Bldg. #27.  The regular BOE meeting will start at 6pm.  Please join us and tell the board to do better with the money they have before asking for more.

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6 Responses to Does the PTA Speak for You?

  • Jennifer says:

    I’m glad I don’t have to deal with these issues as a parent yet, but as a taxpayer I’m very disappointed in the situation you’ve described. It’s a long battle to fight to convince others that more money its not the answer, but hopefully you’ve made a case that convinces a few more people!

  • Ruth says:

    Sheila Atwell -I don’t particuliarly know who you are, but before you quote PTA, you need to know the history of PTA. PTA is one of the largest advocay groups, advocating for children. Please take the time to view the history. PTA has always been legislatively involved with education. PTA is not about fundraising, PTA fundraises to support educational needs.
    How do expect any school whether private or public to function without funding.

    • Joy Overbeck
      Joy Overbeck says:

      Ruth, I don’t know if you even read this post. Nobody is saying the schools should “function without funding!” The author simply points out that we the people keep pouring more and more money into the schools because we actually have believed the “educators” mantra that more bucks will mean better-educated kids. Anybody who pays attention over the years finds just what Sheila is saying — more money does not produce better educated kids! What does? Getting rid of the unions who don’t let us fire bad teachers, and instituting a performance pay system instead, for a start. We MUST quit buying the teachers’ unions nonsense about more $$ and make some real changes. Watch “Waiting for Superman” — it’s a revelation.

    • Sheila
      Sheila says:

      Thank you for reading my post and commenting (and thanks to Joy for responding as well – I am not sure I have much more to add). I understand that the PTA is a major advocate for children – my question is how.
      I am most certainly NOT saying that local school PTAs are not full of concerned, friendly parents – and my intention is not to create divisions within PTA. The point I was trying to make is that many of our assumptions are misinformed and by not digging a little deeper, we are doing a disservice to our kids who are not getting the benefit of many of the education reform ideas that have been thoroughly researched and work. This is because most parents have been told so many times through the presumably impartial PTA prism, that the answer to better schools is more money. All the research shows that this is not the case. In most instances, the needs of students (the priority of the Parent piece of PTA) and the Teachers do not coincide.
      We must insist on changes to the status quo – and I am afraid turning off the spending spigot is the only language some may understand. There are other ways to save education dollars that do not impact the classroom and will benefit highly-effective teachers (and thus our students) the most.

    • sofia says:

      Ruth

      If what you say is true, then why is the PTA partnered with the Teacher’s Union, promoting their agenda instead of standing with JCSF – demanding attention to the horrific student achievement record? Our kids deserve better. JeffCO PTA is complicit with the political agenda of the left, the Teacher’s Union, and the corrupt Administration. Did you know the BOE refused a corrective action plan that repeated successes to address failing student achievement? Did you know the Administration abuses tax dollars meant for students (and teachers)? I could go on forever…so don’t feed us this nonsense about not knowing about the PTA….Those of us in this forum who are active in JeffCo R1 Schools, know all about the PTA and how they, too, are failing our students.

  • Pingback: Jeffco schools has tough case to win over skeptical taxpayers « Watchdog News

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