Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Time Banks, PTA, Family Leadership & Me. Part 2

Previous Post I mentioned two possible partnerships for IDRA: Time Banks and PTA. My connection with Time Banks came from mutual interest and a short period of collaboration. The PTA connection came about through a very different route.

PTA I was named to the national PTA board as a member-at-large in 2006 and two years later elected by the general body at the national convention. My initial appointment resulted from my leadership in parent engagement through the Texas IDRA Parent Information Resource Center. I accepted because this was an opportunity to bring the issues and concerns in our public education advocacy to a important, respected and influential educational forum.

I was initially a cautious PTA board member. I had not experienced any local or state PTA that showed interest in our brand of parent leadership in education, especially with the families my organization is most interested in supporting. IDRA is very concerned about all public schools, but very strategically those that serve children who are poor, minority or speak a language other than English. My experience of PTA leadership, even with those who came from the poor and of-color community, had been of dedicated members with a drive to speak for the merits and history of PTA, stress the importance of joining PTA, and a mission to recruit parents to volunteer as school helpers. Even those not stressing fund-raising, which is being de-emphasized at least in regional, state and national venues, are still selling PTA: a wonderful, rich-in-history and school-friendly, volunteering opportunity. Promulgating PTA is a good thing in itself, but it is not my organization's agenda. Again, as with Time Bank, the leadership and membership approached me to 1) Convince me about the benefits and merits of PTA membership 2) Recruit me to sing the praises of PTA, help recruit new members and start-up new units.

My involvement with PTA is driven by mutual goals and the possibility of a partnership that furthers our goals, where they overlap. With PTA, I do see some light on the horizon because on-the-ground projects are showing possibilities :

I’ve put the new fatherhood push M.O.R.E. in contact with Jerry Tello and Los Compadres and other Latino fatherhood leadership efforts so that there can be a strong Latino presence in that movement.

A new Community PTA might be started by ARISE, an independent community organization in South Texas, conducting its business in Spanish, located in a poor unincorporated community (Colonia) and very importantly, using ARISE’s principles and processes to organize and carry out this ‘new kind of PTA’. We’re setting up a process for documenting this effort as a means to inform the larger organization about a viable alternative way to organize new PTAs.

Possibilities Through Partnership An IDRA dynamite partnership would bring together two different but laudable movements : Time Bank and PTA could join us in a powerful institutional base for parent leadership in education. This is tantalizing for several critical reasons: IDRA Parent leadership for education, when persistent and nurtured, can accelerate the transformation of our schools. Time Banks, a system of reciprocal local exchange of assets and resources can build an internal base of economic and social support from within the neighborhoods that are labeled as ‘the neediest’. PTA brings an established on-campus presence, and would benefit greatly at a time it is attempting to gain new membership and is not a strong presence in the 'poor' Title 1 schools. PTA is combatting myths and stereotypic ideas of being a cheap labor pool for the local schools and renewing its local, state and national presence as a pro-active and premier voice for the families whose children attend public schools. Time Bank is exploding as a global presence and contineus to exist in many USA communities and would benefit from a strong PTA partnership. Time Banks in turn can give the local PTA, especially in urban and poverty neighborhoods, a means of identifying, documenting and managing the exchange of services centered at school and benefiting school and families. The only money needed by these new PTA/Time Banks projects would be the annual dues: the rest would be Time Bank exchanges. The IDRA Parent Leadership in Education process would be the engine to support emerging parent/family leadership, keep a focus on the neighborhood public schools and catalyze taking action in support of the academic success of the children.

Although the IDRA circle is my central & fundamental arena, I also share in the PTA & Time Banks circles.

>I direct a nationally recognized Parent Information Resource Center that provides services across the state of Texas and is centered on the dissemination of IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education model.

>I’m an elected member of the board of directors of National PTA.

>I’ve earned some chits and still have some connections with Time Bank.

The three circles overlap. A partnership of equals is possible. So, the next steps are… A catalyst could be… The strategic time and place to form a partnership are…

This is the second of a two-part post. I would hope to someday write a part III reporting on the impact of the successful partnership.

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flavoredmom said...

I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting. I think the work you're doing is remarkable and very encouraging to those of us who want to work with our schools to constantly improve the experience for our kids. I know there are loads of parents who work tirelessly for the kids and the community and have their priorities straight. My township's PTA culture is unfortunate, but it certainly won't stop me from taking part and doing all I can to benefit my children's education. Best wishes.

cat said...

be entertained

Lena Khalid said...

Nice post ! Keep it up !