Testimony to the members of the MCPS Board Of Education
Regarding Distribution of Informational Material and Announcements
Robyn Posner Solomon, President of Churchill High School PTSA
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I am Robyn Posner Solomon. As a parent of four children, President of the Churchill High School PTSA, an active member of GRIT, member of the OARS workgroup and an occasional substitute teacher, I am baffled by the new regulations restricting the ability of PTSAs throughout the County to access the parents of students. We are often told that the PTSAs are partners with the schools they represent; however, how are PTSAs’ to be effective if they cannot communicate effectively with their membership? Our inability to use ConnectEd, Internet links or the simple “backpack flyers” will dramatically impact the ability of the PTSAs to be effective partners with the schools. Many parents will not receive notices of meetings, programs or fundraising activities which are so essential to the success of the representative schools.
In the Churchill cluster, the lifeblood of our communication system is the “take-home flyer”. We are fortunate in the Churchill Cluster that the majority of our members have access to the Internet; however, some parents, mostly in our more disadvantaged communities, do not have Internet access. This is also true in less affluent clusters where Internet access for notices would result in the failure to reach a significant portion of the parent population. Even the Internet access has been damaged by the removal from the links between the schools and PTSAs.
It is essential that we work hand in glove with the school system. In many cases, the PTSAs are handling functions at the request of the schools, where the schools do not have the resources to handle these functions themselves. As a group which includes, parents, teachers and students, the “backpack” message and internet messages with links are our most effective means of communication. To be an effective partner with the schools, we need to have the same access to the parents as the schools. Without this access, our membership and effectiveness will decline precipitously. Without this access we are not a partner with the schools but merely another unaffiliated organization with no standing in the school community. This is in stark contrast to the principles of Baldridge which Montgomery County Public Schools has adopted. The parents and students as stakeholders are not treated as equal partners and are disenfranchised from the Montgomery County Public Schools, to everyone’s detriment. MCPS relies heavily on the millions of volunteer hours given by, and fundraising dollars raised by, the PTSAs. To hinder communications is counter-productive.
I urge you to act quickly to restore the relationships between MCPS and the PTSAs. Thank you for your time.