Can parents from schools with active Parents Associations help others from less-advantaged schools learn such basics as how to set up a PTA, run a fundraiser, or establish themselves as a non-profit? A newly formed parent group believes that they can and is reaching out to parents in all five boroughs to participate in a project called The Public School Parent Support Project.
Lisa Ableman and Rachel Fine, members of the active Parent's Association at PS 321 in Park Slope, decided to found the organization when they realized that there was no centralized place in the city for PAs and PTAs to connect with one another.
"Although most PTAs have similar general goals and are working toward some common ends, there is no good, central place for them to go to access and share information and resources," said Ableman. "Most PTAs function in relative isolation, replicating each other's learning curves, reinventing the wheel over and over again. Even individual PTAs themselves, often start over again year to year as new officers do not have a very good way of getting a primer on their roles and responsibilities"
We thought, 'if there’s some sort of hub where people can get together and share that information, so much the better for everyone," she said.
Although most city schools have a Parents Association, many of them are not functioning well. That's one more reason that parents who have participated in successful PAs can share successful practices and, ideally, alleviate some of the inequities, Ableman said.
For the moment the neophyte organization, which was founded in collaboration with City Councilmember Brad Lander's office, is reaching out to current and former PA and PTA officers, collecting information to get an idea of what’s going on around the city, and what people are looking for.
The goal is to start a website which would serve as a clearinghouse of information for parent groups, where members will connect to share tips and links to resources.
"We know we can’t level the playing field across the city. We can't even out financial disparities," said Ableman. "But we do believe it can help."