They may be only one letter apart, but Parent Teacher Association officials are working to stress the differences between PTAs and the PT0s—or Parent Teacher Organizations—that are increasingly replacing them. According to an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, PTA membership has dropped from 12 million in the 1950s to 5.5 million today, and PTAs now make up less than 25 percent of school-parent groups. The annual PTA convention, which ended yesterday in St. Louis, included a session called “A Instead of O: How to Talk PTA to PTO,” which provided attendees with early warning signs that a school is considering switching to PTOs, along with advice on how to prevent it.
So what’s the difference? Whereas the PTA is a national organization with representation in Washington and state capitols, PT0s are autonomous local initiatives. Supporters of PTOs, or “PT Others” as PTA advocates refer to them, say the organizations keep funds within the community and do a better job of managing local issues. PTA officials, on the other hand, stress the importance of their organization’s political reach and its extensive resources and leadership-training programs. “One of the things we’ve always said is PTOs stand for ‘own,’ whereas PTA is for ‘all’ kids,” said Kathy Nevans, president of the Missouri PTA.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Web Watch blog.