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Old 02-02-2010, 04:01 PM
 
Location: St. Louis
7,494 posts, read 8,276,822 times
Reputation: 9053
Default I am SO thru with PTO meetings!

OK, so I've been to them on and off for years--my DD's are in high school right now. They drive me bonkers, so I stay away for awhile, and then I feel guilty so I try it again and then I remember why I hate them so much. Last night they just "discussed" something, I don't know what for 1-1/2 hours and then called it a night, but only b/c they'd set a limit on the meeting. Otherwise I think they would have been at it all night. Half of that time was spent abusing those parents who don't go to the meetings. Half of it was gossiping about what a bad job our concessions magager does, and half was about , well I never did figure it out b/c I am clearly out of the loop. And it was just the president, the VP, and the treasurer--no one else was allowed a word in edgewise.

The last school my kids went to was in a small town and I was gung ho to begin with and when the (lifetime) president said she was looking for a new kind of fundraiser, b/c product sales were getting old--no kidding, we were all sick of them--I stepped in and said how about a trivia night and I'll plan it so you wont' have to do it, so she basically told me to sit down and shut up and the product sales will be just fine after all. She seemed very angry about it, though several others thought it would be a great idea.

So, if some of you are heads of PTO's and wondering why you don't get more parent participation, look at your behavior and try to determine whether you're chasing people off. I'll do concessions and help any other way I can, but dam$ed if I'll go to another meeting.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Earth
3,456 posts, read 4,645,569 times
Reputation: 3627
I've never been to a PTO meeting as I don't have children. But I have been a teacher, and I have complained about exactly the same issues in my school environment as those you have experienced in the PTO meetings that you have attended, which is why I no longer teach--I can't work in an environment where:
a) the majority of what people are saying is bull****, small talk or the like; essentially, speech for the sake of speech, that accomplishes absolutely nothing but that makes people feel as if they are addressing an issue;
b) relies on gossip and hearsay as fact, and revels in the feelings of power that the aformentioned create.
It is this exact environment that drove me out of teaching, as it is the antithesis of reason and productivity; in short, it frustrated me as much as it has frustrated you (it's nice to know that I am not the only one who thinks that this sort of behavior is completely WRONG).

My advice is to stay away from it, as it is essentially a toxic environment that will wear on your nerves, unless you are able to actually find a way to change it. But please don't feel guilty about not attending; I think your kids get more out of you spending time with them at home than at those pointless, dysfunctional meetings. Moreover, I think that not attending teaches them a valuable lesson in scrutiny and independent thought.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:16 PM
 
Location: N of citrus, S of decent corn
16,237 posts, read 18,697,756 times
Reputation: 24683
I have been involved in PTO, but fortunately there was a OHO (one hour only) rule for meetings. My friend had the best strategy. She stayed far away and just threw money at it. "Can you bake cookies, work concessions, be in charge of the ______ sale, yada yada"? Her answer was always the same..."No but here's a check".
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:21 PM
 
693 posts, read 909,836 times
Reputation: 416
Quote:
Originally Posted by StarlaJane View Post
a) the majority of what people are saying is bull****, small talk or the like; essentially, speech for the sake of speech, that accomplishes absolutely nothing but that makes people feel as if they are addressing an issue;
b) relies on gossip and hearsay as fact, and revels in the feelings of power that the aformentioned create.
LOL this describes most places I have worked! You should go to a UN coordination meeting. I usually had to bring a barf bag.
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Old 02-02-2010, 06:50 PM
 
Location: Earth
3,456 posts, read 4,645,569 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by melbern View Post
LOL this describes most places I have worked! You should go to a UN coordination meeting. I usually had to bring a barf bag.
OMG, LMAO! I would love to go just to LMAO!
I tried to rep 'ya, but I have to spread it around first
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Old 02-02-2010, 09:06 PM
 
Location: On a Slow-Sinking Granite Rock Up North
3,509 posts, read 3,313,742 times
Reputation: 2333
Quote:
Originally Posted by melbern View Post
LOL this describes most places I have worked! You should go to a UN coordination meeting. I usually had to bring a barf bag.
"Barf bag" LMAO... I think that describes most meetings everywhere about anything. Get a group of humans together, and unless you have someone who is willing to firmly redirect the meeting constantly, you'll always have that kind of foolishness going on. Sometimes, I believe we human critters think too much.

I file that under "human nature"
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Old 02-02-2010, 10:33 PM
 
10,010 posts, read 14,110,646 times
Reputation: 5992
I haven't been involved in a PTO (son still too young), but I can clearly imagine what you're discussing. That's a problem in a lot of places, unfortunately; I've participated in my share of nonprofit board meetings, and while they're not as bad as what you've described, they can be a real waste of time. You really need someone who is willing to put their foot down and firmly keep the meeting on track and squash off-topic conversation. Unfortunately in an organization that is exclusively volunteer-run it's the people who have no problem with the status quo who have the patience to move forward to the leadership positions. The people who might be willing and able to whip it into shape either aren't voted into those positions or don't want them, because really, who wants to put up with that? I can definitely see why people would just hand over the check and/or directly volunteer rather than put up with meetings like kind you've described. Once a group of that nature is dysfunctional it takes a great deal of work to change it, and that's a long and difficult process. And if the current people involved don't see any problems then it's not likely to happen. Depressing, but I've seen it happen over and over in other groups, and I imagine the issues just get amplified when in the PTO context.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:42 AM
 
5,567 posts, read 7,854,635 times
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I think if you want to raise money for the school and want to do it all on your own, you should be able to - get approval from the principal. We do this at our school. The PTO didn't want to have a particular kind of fundraiser, but so many other non pto parents wanted it to happen... so they got together and took the plan to the principal and it's been happening - and raising close to $10,000 every year!! - for several years now.

Last year I volunteered 732 hours to my kids schools (I know exactly because we have a website that we log our time into) and that's not counting the stuff I did at home on my own time - and never attended a single PTO meeting. I also was one of the three parents involved in working our butts off and raising that almost $10,000 for the school (and have done so for the past several years). Go me!!

You CAN think outside the PTO box and do a lot of good for your kids schools and individual classrooms, the PTO just might not like you for it.
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Old 02-03-2010, 04:58 AM
 
2,011 posts, read 3,186,774 times
Reputation: 1721
Quote:
Originally Posted by stepka View Post
OK, so I've been to them on and off for years--my DD's are in high school right now. They drive me bonkers, so I stay away for awhile, and then I feel guilty so I try it again and then I remember why I hate them so much. Last night they just "discussed" something, I don't know what for 1-1/2 hours and then called it a night, but only b/c they'd set a limit on the meeting. Otherwise I think they would have been at it all night. Half of that time was spent abusing those parents who don't go to the meetings. Half of it was gossiping about what a bad job our concessions magager does, and half was about , well I never did figure it out b/c I am clearly out of the loop. And it was just the president, the VP, and the treasurer--no one else was allowed a word in edgewise.

The last school my kids went to was in a small town and I was gung ho to begin with and when the (lifetime) president said she was looking for a new kind of fundraiser, b/c product sales were getting old--no kidding, we were all sick of them--I stepped in and said how about a trivia night and I'll plan it so you wont' have to do it, so she basically told me to sit down and shut up and the product sales will be just fine after all. She seemed very angry about it, though several others thought it would be a great idea.

So, if some of you are heads of PTO's and wondering why you don't get more parent participation, look at your behavior and try to determine whether you're chasing people off. I'll do concessions and help any other way I can, but dam$ed if I'll go to another meeting.
I have to agree with you 100%. Apparently, this sort of behavior is universal as I've observed the same thing. I'm a parent of 7 children ages 26 to age 8 and over the years, I've seen just about everything (PTO/PTU, baseball little league, church, it's all the same scenario).

Yes, there is always b*tching about parents not stepping up to the plate, helping out, getting involved in things, but the truth of the matter is that there are a few "power players" who like to be in the thick of things and it's the same ones all the time. If it wasn't for them being involved in those things they wouldn't have fodder for gossip, which is apparently their national past-time.

When parents DO try to get involved as you did, they are basically told to buzz off and let the "real parents" (the same ones who b*tch about others) do the job. It gives them some sort of power trip. My advice is to help out the teacher, make sure the kids get their homework done, be respectful, etc. and have good communication with the teacher. That's the main thing.

The whole PTO/PTU thing is hit and miss. Sometimes, you can help out, sometimes you can't. Don't let it get to you. I promise you that in every community/every church there are certain people who WANT to run everything because it puts them in the thick of things and they WANT it that way. These people are basically busybodies who like to get the dirt on others. There's no way around it, just avoid them and live your live and enjoy. As someone already mentioned, these types of gossiping busybodies ARE toxic to your mental health which will eventually affect your physical and emotional well-being. Very sad that it has to be this way, but it seems to be very common.

Last edited by Donna7; 02-03-2010 at 05:08 AM..
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Old 02-03-2010, 07:19 AM
 
10,212 posts, read 16,026,505 times
Reputation: 4756
I guess I'm lucky. When we moved here almost 13 years ago I was warmly welcomed into the PTA at my oldest son's elementary school. People were encouraged to talk and the meetings generally moved at a pretty fast pace with a Roberts Rules of orders format loosely enforced. Within a span of about 6 years at that school I ended up holding most positions on the board including President. There was a great balance of programs that were done in the past with everything written down for new chairs to look through and room for new ideas. Programs that had become unpopular were allowed to die. I didn't realize that our PTA was unusual until I talked to other people that were complaining about their groups.

When my oldest son went onto Middle School the parent group there was run by just one person but with the help of a few people we were able to turn the program into a democratic organization. It wasn't easy and it surely wasn't pleasant, but by the time my youngest was in MS it was better.

Our HS group is only a few years old and is run totally differently. The Principal and VP's talk, we parents ask questions and hold discussions, but that's about it. No fund-raising, no volunteering. I wasn't sure I would like it, but it's also working out. All the information without any work!
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