PTA Politics.

I’m not trying to launch a political career or anything, but now that my daughter is in the first grade, I’ve decided to join the PTA at her school. I enjoy being involved in my children’s schools; my kids get so excited and feel so important when their mommy is in charge of something, and I like the feeling of being a part of the community. But that being said, as a working mom, it’s not always easy to fit in the meetings, or to find the time for yet another responsibility. At our preschool, the Parents Association was pretty laid back. You did what you could, you came to the meetings you could make, and they were grateful to have any help at all. But at my daughter’s elementary school, the PTA is run like the United States Army. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month. Each committee is expected to give a brief and succinct report. Receipts must be turned in within thirty days. Unlike the harried mothers of two and three year-olds at the preschool, the grade school moms seem to be professional parent volunteers, and they take their jobs extremely seriously. The attitude is not one of gratitude, but rather, of expectation. As in, ask not what your school can do for you, but what you can do for your school. Or, to be more exact, as in, your child attends this school, and if you want your child to have a good experience here, then you’d better get off your lazy ass and pitch in, or else don’t even think about complaining, bitches. I’ll be honest: it’s more than a little intimidating.


But nonetheless, I enlisted. Well, okay, techinically, I was recruited. At the end of last year, I was called by the former PTA President, who explained that, now that I’ve had a year to “sit back and see how things work,” I should really think about chairing a committee. I told her that I was slightly wary of committing to something like that, since I also have a job and a four year old at home. But she assured me that the PTA was friendly towards working moms. I’m a doctor with a full time practice and four kids, she said, not a little impatiently, and I’ve chaired every committee there is. And I was like, well, that’s just fantastic. There goes my cover. I mean, what do you say to something like that? Sorry, but my two kids and my part-time job as a writer are more demanding than you could possibly understand? Uh, no. What you say is Sir, yes Sir, may I have another.


And so, cut to: last Tuesday, the day before the first day of school. I’m crammed into a pint-sized chair in the school library, with about forty or so other moms, plus two dads. The new PTA President is at the head of the table: blonde, no-nonsense, and totally devoted to making our school the best it can be.



Thank you so much for the article! What great timing as I have been beseiged this week by all sorts of commands to volunteer at the school,join the PTA, in addition to being sent a very large fundraising packet! And my son only just started kindergarten! I work full time and have a 9 month old as well. I was thinking about joining something - not sure what yet - and I am wondering what sort of environment I will find. I can not believe that the president let those dads go!I would have been upset too!! Thank you for sharing your experience and I would love to hear more as the year goes on.


I wonder about your school. This wouldn't happen at my school, where most of the moms work. But that of course is one reason we chose it. Fitting in in the community is important to me, and I hate how the schools with the traditional investment-banker-dad-SAHM mom remain sometimes the most popular because they ARE that way. It is actually a political issue.


Geez. I kept thinking about this article. I would be pretty indignant! How come moms are supposed to do all the heavy lifting regarding childcare and schooling - regardless of whether they work outside the home or not? Love to hear a follow up from you on this in a year!