It Becomes About Class

A friend of mine recently watched the HBO special Little Rock Central: 50 Years Later, about a school famous for resisting desegregation back in the late 50s. Apparently, the first look at the school seems to point to progress in terms of integration and academic success – but a closer scan shows that the honors classes are filled with a majority of white kids, and within the classrooms, the white kids sit together and the black kids sit together – so things are better, but things are worse, perhaps, because now the issues are so deep under the surface that even when the kids were questioned about what was wrong with the way they were sitting, they didn’t know what was being talked about. They didn’t even see it.

So my friend and I were talking about culture and class, and how they are integral pieces to school success – but she also mentioned something interesting: the PTA meetings at this school are held during the day. Between 9 and 5. It’s all white parents. Mothers.

This infuriated me. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a really obvious and fixable error on the part of that school. Parent involvement, and the atmosphere in your home in terms of what’s expected and understood about education and success – that is so crucial to doing well in school. Even if you’re poor, even if you’re in a racial minority – if your parents/family prioritizes your learning, it’s going to be a huge boost to you. If right off the bat working parents are basically informed, due to the timing of PTA meetings, that they are not welcome or expected to be part of their kids’ education – well, what message trickles down to the kids?

I hope there’s none of that going on in this area. If you know of any parent-related things going on during normal working hours only, events/meeting/activities that would be helpful for any parent, I would love to know about them. I don’t want working parents to be excluded from opportunities to be involved with their children, simply because the rest of the community doesn’t find it convenient to schedule things in the evenings or weekends. That’s elitist crap. 

[Yes, I’m aware that by posting online I’m excluding people who aren’t internet- savvy – a type of discrimination? Any ideas on how to reach out to working moms / parents beyond the online world welcome.]

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2 Responses to It Becomes About Class

  1. patience says:

    I was PTO co-president of a Charlottesville elementary school in 2003-04 and we held our board meetings in the evenings, and always made it clear that all parents were welcome. At PTO events we sometimes served a free dinner (pizza)as well. We were also careful to set up our fundraisers so that people who didn’t have much money would feel included. We hosted a free dance and silent auction. Admission to the dance was a can of food for a food bank, and all money raised came from the silent auction. Many people came just for the dance, but we still surpassed our fundraising goal by $2,000. At that particular event we had an enormous turn out from the less advantaged families.

    PTOs need to be friendly and active in making all parents feel welcome.

    Ironically, I felt like the other PTO parents disliked me because I didn’t have a job. One mother even referred to me as a “June Cleaver” in an email that went out to the entire board, so the unfairness goes two ways.

  2. Amanda says:

    Perhaps something else to consider in scheduling of parent teacher meetings during day is that if they were in the evenings teachers would have to spend time away from their families to come. My preschool had all parent meetings during day and I came to all that I could, I just arranged w/ boss as would a doctors appt.

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