Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

The Politics of the PTA

Academic journal article The Journal of Social, Political, and Economic Studies

The Politics of the PTA

Article excerpt

The Politics of the PTA Charlene K. Haar

Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick (USA) and London (UK), 2002

If anyone believes that the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) in the United States is a benign and noncontroversial organization devoted to improving education in a nonpolitical manner, a reading of Charlene K. Haar's masterful The Politics of the PTA will disabuse the reader of such an illusion.

Ms. Haar serves as President of the Education Policy Institute and as a Research Associate of the Social Philosophy and Policy Center at Bowling Green State University. She has been a diligent observer of education in the United States through attendance at conferences, research and writing, and as a former teacher and candidate (though unsuccessful) for public office (United States Senator).

In this thorough and insightful study, she traces the early history of the organization, which evolved from a mothers only group to an organization representing parents and teachers. She focuses on the extensive agenda of the PTA over the years, the interrelationship between the National Education Association and its role in contemporary politics.

The author also devotes a chapter on the Goals 2000 program for education, an effort extending federal controls over state and local education. The concluding chapters zero in on the PTA's fundraising, the conflicting approaches to parental involvement, and the future of the PTA.

She states her theme up front: while the PTA has been considered as a primary representative of most public school parents and teachers, in fact, "the PTA is now actually a minor player after almost four decades of decreasing membership." (p. 5). The book is especially valuable because of the author's examination of how the unionization of the National Education Association (between 1964-1975) influenced NEA/PTA relations, particularly coming to a head over the issue of teacher strikes. …

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