Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

PTA Boasts Increase in Parental Involvement in Schools Strength Comes despite Time Constraints, Leaders Say Here

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

PTA Boasts Increase in Parental Involvement in Schools Strength Comes despite Time Constraints, Leaders Say Here

Article excerpt

In an era when parents have less free time than ever, they are spending more time than ever volunteering for their public schools, say leaders of the PTA, or Parent Teacher Association.

Not only mothers and fathers, but grandparents, aunts and uncles also are helping out.

In Missouri, about 126,000 people belong to the PTA, and that number has grown in each of the last four years, said the state PTA president, Sue Raumaker of Blue Springs. Nationwide membership has held steady around 6.7 million, but the number of volunteer hours has increased, said Kathryn Whitfill, the national PTA president and a mother and grandmother from Pasadena, Texas.

Illinois has about 223,000 PTA members, a figure relatively unchanged over several years.

Raumaker and Whitfill spoke during a break Friday in the first day of the Missouri PTA Convention at Stouffer's Concourse Hotel near Lambert Field. About 900 people registered for the convention, which will continue today and Sunday.

"No matter what the socio-economic status, parents want to be involved in education, they want to make a difference," Whitfill said. "We are looking for opportunities to tell them how to be more involved."

The renewed interest from parents follows a decade of decline in involvement as mothers joined the work force.

For its part, the PTA has gone beyond the concerns of child labor that prompted Alice McLellan Birney and Phoebe Apperson Hearst to start the organization 97 years ago.

Convention topics include sessions on the Missouri accelerated schools project, under which communities have restructured schools; outcome-based education and student performance; student safety; assistance for students with problems ranging from drug abuse to family crises; AIDS education programs; legislation affecting education; and communication among parents, teachers and students. …

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