Was that PTO or PTA?
In the future, Georgia schools Superintendent Linda C. Schrenko may pay more attention to statements that are released with her name on them, in light of a recent slip-up by her press office.
In a guest editorial the office sent to newspapers Sept. 15, Ms. Schrenko proudly declared herself a "card-carrying member of the PTA," and urged parents to join PTA chapters at their local schools.
The statement coincided with PTA recruitment in the schools.
But Ms. Schrenko, a conservative Republican who is up for re-election next year, is not a member of the PTA and does not agree with many of its members' positions, a point that she subsequently made very clear by telling a news service reporter that the PTA is a liberal organization that supports gay rights and is influenced by the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers' union. Ms. Schrenko has also said that she supports vouchers for private schools, a concept that the PTA opposes.
On Sept. 18, after the editorial ran and the error was discovered, Ms. Schrenko's press office issued a statement in which the superintendent said she appreciates the work of local PTAs, but does not support their views.
"One big issue I disagree with is the national PTA's support of setting national standards and of Goals 2000," Ms. Schrenko said, referring to the federally funded Goals 2000 education reform initiative. Georgia, however, receives Goals 2000 money and is using it to rewrite curriculum.
Ms. Schrenko also said she supports PTOs, not PTAs. PTOs are local parent-teacher organizations that are not affiliated with national or state groups. She is a member of a PTO.
Following Ms. Schrenko's remarks, Cathy Henson, the president of the 350,000-member Georgia PTA, fired back a statement.
"The disparagement of the PTA by a state constitutional officer simply appears to be the partisan posturing of a politician who is pandering to a select political constituency," she wrote. "The PTA is an American institution that will be around long after this elected official disappears from the scene."