What do you see as the role of the PTA in Berkeley?

Ty Alper

The primary role of the PTA should be to foster strong working relationships between students, parents, teachers, and school administration, in order to better serve the school’s students. The PTA is the bridge between the professionals working in the schools and the families who have children in the schools. The bridge allows for increased communication, connectedness, acknowledgements of things done well, and space to discuss changes that need to occur. In Berkeley, as in many other communities affected by steep funding cuts to public education, the PTA also takes on a fundraising role that is “above and beyond” what should ideally be the responsibility of the parent community. Nevertheless, funds raised by PTAs at our school sites do provide critical resources that directly impact student learning, and sometimes teacher learning and professional development as well.

Josh Daniels

One of the primary roles of the PTA is to be an independent voice for families. (While SGCs also provide an opportunity for families to express their voices, it is more focused and limited given the structure of SGCs.) As that independent voice, PTAs provide both support and accountability for school administrations. A strong PTA is extremely important for the success of our students and to ensure that the school-level and district-level decisions are open, transparent, and legitimate in the eyes of the school community.
Of course, because of the lack of state support for education, another primary role for PTAs has been to provide financial assistant to the schools. As I have heard from talking both at the PTA Council and at school PTAs, that this financial support funds core educational services. Even though education is still woefully underfunded, the District is receiving “new” funds. (I write “new” in quotes because the “new” funding is only intended to restore us to 2007-08 funding levels.) It is imperative that with these new funds that the District take on more core educational services and free up PTA funds.

Norma J F Harrison

I prefer that along with its customary work to maintain the teaching program, it work using the analyses and goals I’ve described in one of my flyers and in my on-line ‘book’: School Is The Opposite Of Education, by Norma J F Harrison, a study to release us from our confinement http://normajfharrison.wordpress.com

The flyer: Norma J F Harrison for Berkeley School Director (school board) I have studied ‘education’ for 70 years. I’ve seen over and over the futility of the constant, always unsuccessful reform efforts.The reforms do not, cannot! begin to rectify the inadequacy that school is. The problem is school itself. The artificiality of school lessons, classes, is felt as insults by all concerned: students, teachers, and their families and communities, by forcing age-segregated routinization formations in place of self-respecting participation in society. Lesson plans, which are required, are, as time allows, inspected by overseers. They are, Common Core notwithstanding (same ol’), to presuppose students’ interests, and their abilities. Teachers are to tell themselves as well as the subjects, ‘students’ and parents, that the lessons are relevant for them, whether they are or not; that the lessons are time-appropriate, whether the student wants to study that lesson then or not.

The plans are actually to justify externally imposed classroom requirements; – classrooms created as a place for teachers and staff to earn a living, and for children to be warehoused as labor waiting until some artificially determined time to become a full participant in society.
These deformities have to come under discussion in order for us to begin to grasp together, the direction in which our struggle needs to go.

Continually expecting that the major aid to our oppression, school, be made useful, has got to be available for discussion; that, and what the choices are. (I'm a candidate for the Berkeley school board, again, 4th time, pushing the discussion - at least, from my standpoint.)

The choice obviously is us all doing our lives together instead of pretending that school equals work. Don’t make people pretend to do the hammering and sawing of living. Let us ALL DO it together. Classroom-like study needs to rise in situ. All the skills can be learned doing our work together, not isolated into 8-, 10 years of unlearning how to read, write, calculate. Learning the skills has been cast as needing remediation, instead of happening as the natural accompaniment of any study and work. We’re all geniuses given the chance. There’s no genius gene, hovering parents trying to be sure their child gets a good job, to the contrary.

We’re all artists.
We’re all teachers and students all our lives.

These however are stifled by the insistence that we fill classrooms and school desks, instead.

We all have content to teach and study all our lives, together.

But those are assigned to people according to their age, and according to their diplomas.
Teaching and learning needs instead to become us working together regardless of age, altogether because of communal and individual need and desire. Work needs to become for all OUR benefit, none for our Owners, the profiteers.

I offer the opportunity to enable the discussion of how to remove the present binding form and replace it with the living that will allow us all the joy! of education, the joy of work, of actually participating within our communities, not requiring our children to accept the deception that school equals work.

Read School Is The Opposite Of Education, by Norma J F Harrison, a study to release us from our confinement http://normajfharrison.wordpress.com
Norma 510-526-3968 normaha@pacbell.net Alameda County and State of California Peace and FreedomParty Central Committees member

Karen Hemphill

As a former co-President of the Berkeley High PTSA, I believe that the PTA’s major role as being a forum for the collective and individual voices of parents and facilitation of parent/teacher/staff/central administration partnerships.

Julie Sinai

I first joined the PTA when my son entered Kindergarten at Rosa Parks Elementary School (then known as Columbus). Over the years I was an active parent volunteer at all four of my children’s schools. Rosa Parks PTA was a place where I got to know other parents (some now lifelong friends) and learned how to support my child’s school. The school was brand new and the PTA played a strategic role in creating a welcoming culture for new and veteran families alike. Members of the PTA helped pull together the Rosa Parks Collaborative, where I ended up spending much of my volunteer time. During my 10 years at Rosa Parks, we experienced 4 principals. Through each transition our PTA leaders played a crucial role in convening parents/guardians, providing information and representing the families’ concerns and recommendations. As exemplified in my experiences, the PTA is a place where parent and school staff (teachers, administrators and staff) can work together to create a school environment that supports student learning and family engagement. It can be a powerful collective voice for parents and guardians advocating for quality education and equity in resource distribution. The PTA provides opportunities for families to connect with each other, contributes to setting school wide priorities, supports the classroom and raises funds for added resources and enrichment. It’s also a great opportunity to develop leadership and influence the direction of the school and the District as a whole.