Tuesday, August 16, 2011

August 16, 2011: P.... T.... A....


Whoa.  I just went to my first PTA meeting last night.

Just when I thought my wild and crazy twenties couldn't be further packed into the deep freeze of my memory...

I attended a PTA meeting.

Getting married... no prob...
Becoming homeowners... loved it!
Entering parenthood... amazing
The condo in suburbia to fit said baby and parenthood... well...
Driving a [gulp] minivan... that was a tough one,

but attending my first PTA meeting... I think I'm still in shock.

Before all you PTA members start hatin' on me... it's not negative.  It's just... when did I grow up?

C'mon, you remember those three letters as a kid, right?  (Short for Parent Teacher Association)
Suddenly, last night, I'm in a hot assembly room in a 2 hour meeting approving budgets for jog-a-thons and campouts, field trips, et cetera.

By the way, what a WAKE UP CALL as to how totally screwed we are.

I'm gonna go on a brief run here, so bear with me.

Think of the old phrase about how do you boil a frog?  Answer: slowly.

That is officially our school system.  Why is this hitting me tonight?  Relevance.  There is simply too much information in the modern world to stay on top of outside of what is personally relevant.

Now, the fact that Ali will have three days a year of music appreciation - not even education - is relevant.

The fact that her school, which is touted as a good school, can only staff a nurse for 580+ kids 1 day out of every week - is relevant.

The fact that her school week is only 4.5 days every week - is relevant.

The fact that teachers and administrators are forced to stay home with no pay which equals no education - is relevant.

Yeah, yeah, welcome to the club, Tim, where have you been?

Well, my eye has been a little distracted by this little thing called EB.

What a monumentally far cry from "when I was her age..." LOL.

That's all the stuff I learned about just last night. (except for furlough days... knew about those, and heard about music, but I guess I was just in denial that in Orange County, CA (not exactly the poorest place on earth), we dumped the arts in the trash for our kids.)

I will say this, I think Ali's principal is amazing.  The grace in which she had to deliver so much of the news last night, and the way in which she handled all the parents' complaints and concerns was amazing, and I made sure I told her so right after.  Man, she has a tough job.  I have a whole new respect for how handcuffed our educators are by our government.  She is told how many staff she gets and that's that.  She simply has to make it work.  Just like the teachers are told how many students they're getting, and how (little) resources they are receiving, and that's that.  They just have to make it work.

I feel like Rip Van Winkle.

Like I've been asleep while all of this has gone to pits.  Now I've awoken to this unfathomably big mess... and I know it's this bad and/or worse in too many other cities and states to even count.

Where my anxiety is coming from is that I like to be part of the solution, so last night I tentatively signed up for a couple of chair positions (dad's club and talent show- nothing major, just a way to support and get my feet wet).  What is predictable is that I will want to "SAVE THE SCHOOL SYSTEM" just like I want to SAVE EB KIDS.  I already run my music therapy company, PUCK, the Regional Conference for my professional association, and co-run a pretty awesome little family.  I know I'm going to have the time of my life participating in Ali's education, but last night served as a wake up call for just how good I had it growing up.

Alright, alright, please don't beat me up for any of the above, I just needed to get it out.  When I went up to the principal, I told her to use me up; I work from home 5 minutes away.  She warned me that she probably will, and that's cool because ultimately, this is exactly the way we set up our marriage and family.  There is nowhere I need to be that is more important than "around."  I never want to hear later in life, "Dad where were you?  You were never around when I was growing up."  Not gonna happen.  Just the fact that I got to run music class one day this summer at Ali's preschool was AWESOME.  I can't wait to do that throughout her education.

The other thing I noticed last night was the 80/20 rule in action.  This rule states that 80% of the work is usually done by 20% of the community.  Well, we have over 500 kids in our school and how many parents showed up for the first PTA meeting of the year?  Maybe 50.  Of those 50, I could tell who were the 20% of THAT group who do all the work.  That's how the principle works; it keeps subdividing by nature.  I could pick out by the end of the meeting who were the 10 women who have been shouldering the balance of the burden year in and year out.  They raise roughly 40-50k a year to contribute to the school, and these are some Super-Moms (and one or two dads) that get it done.  Work full time, parent, then run a non-profit that hosts maybe 30-odd fundraisers over the year.  Crazy.

I'm in.

I'm crazy, too.  LOL.

Kudos to all of you reading this that are members of your PTA.
You, too, are part of the solution.  
Cheers to making the best out of a mess of a situation!

God night.


  1. Um. Laughing at your post! Been a teacher for over 20 years. You described it very accurately. My son's school IS the best in our very affluent area. I believe in public school and loved teaching in the public system. Where is my child? The private Catholic school up the street.....I just cannot deal with the public education disaster as a professional AND a mom. I give thousands each year to my classroom (or did before I was a stay at home)....

    Good for you stepping up. It is always said, "The busiest people are the first ones to step up and the best ones to get the job done."

    I'm not surprised you stepped up. There will be many blessings for you, your family and the school resulting from your time volunteering.

    GO TIM!


  2. "There is nowhere I need to be that is more important than "around." I never want to hear later in life, "Dad where were you? You were never around when I was growing up." Not gonna happen. Just the fact that I got to run music class one day this summer at Ali's preschool was AWESOME. I can't wait to do that throughout her education."

    You...are an amazing Dad. If every one of those kids had a Dad like you there would not be a problem. I bet those kids (when they grow up - not now...all Dads are pains when you're a kid) will look back at their childhood with such warm memories. AND the best bit? THEY TOO will be wonderful parents. We learn from how we were treated.

    Well done.
    Your obvious care and dedication made me all warn and fuzzy on the inside. x

  3. Tim, you are killing me with that picture of Bella, I just want to kiss my screen. Her eyes just keep drawing me back, I miss her.

    Your post reminded me of how my husband was always involved at the school and it still comes up in conversations with some of the kids friends (ours kids are now 30 and 28). My husband had Wednesdays off and so he was the one dad who would be on the field trips. Teachers loved it and kids loved it.

    Ali is one blessed little girl.

    Kim M

  4. Good for you for getting involved! Of course you are busy with all of your other responsibilities - but so are those other "involved" parents. Having worked with kids since college via working in foster group homes, schools, and as a social worker... I know all too well the state of things as you describe them. Our kids and schools need parents like you to help make up for the poor budget and resources. Good luck with your newest grown up endeavor! :)


  5. This is exactly why I read your blog!! Love how you want to be a part of the solution and save the school system! I am a teacher in NY state and wish we had more parents like you in our district!! I've never commented before this post just stood out to me!! Thank you for getting involved!!


  6. As a teacher, I just loved this!!!! And my school has 800+ English Language Learners in a LOW income area. Tough. Tough. Tough. Our wonderful PTA does the best they can also, bringing full strollers in every day/week and finding translators for us all. It is the best job to have as a parent, though. I hate leaving my kids each September, but since I have to work, a school, as a teacher, is the best place to be.

    On another note, while shopping at a bead/jewelry store last night with my family, my son, Salvatore, marveled at the beautiful beads and trinkets. He later saw some butterfly stones and said, "How pretty for your little friend, mommy." He meant sweet Bella, of course.

    And I just love this picture of Bella. Best wishes to Ali as she enters Kinder. She will be so so loved!!!! Lucky teacher that gets her in the classroom.

  7. How appropriate that I'm reading this post after coming home from my first day back at school - year #32 this will be for me. The budget situation is equally dire here in NC. It was good to see my colleagues and catch up on what had happened over the summer. But there was a bit of sadness as there were several missing faces of friends who had lost their jobs at the end of last year...all just painful reminders of the state of public education these days. Parent groups have always been integral and important parts of any school, but they are certainly much more so these days. Good for you for stepping up and taking an active role. Ali's school is mighty lucky to have a family like yours on board!

    Take care, sweet family.

    A friend in NC

  8. Home school and take control of your daughter's education, there are thousands that do in California even though they tried to take that right from you guys a couple years ago.

    Along with all the crap and bureaucracy comes a disdain/hostility for Christianity, early introduction to sexual things, and possibly a teacher that makes your daughter feel like crap b/c she is not perfect (whoops went back into my own memory there). No to mention gangs, shootings, and drugs in California (remind me why anyone lives there..? right the beach and weather)