Monday, September 18, 2006

The importance of the role PTAs and PTOs play at schools in the region would be difficult to overestimate.

The fund-raising events the organizations undertake each school year contribute thousands of dollars to each school, enabling them to buy playground equipment, pay for field trips and provide other extras students otherwise would have to do with out.

At Blanchard Elementary School in Cape Girardau, the parent-teacher group raised enough money to buy a dozen computerized SMART Boards for the classrooms. The interactive whiteboards cost thousands of dollars apiece.

PTA and PTO members also volunteer at the schools, helping with copying, stapling and reshelving books. They plan parties and play day, all the things teachers scarcely have time for.

The parents' presence in the schools has other benefits. It gives them a sense of ownership and makes them feel welcome in the hallways while showing their children a commitment to being involved in their schooling.

The organizations are active on the national and state levels as well. For the past two years the Missouri PTA lobbied for passage of an anti-bullying law. That law, approved by the legislature on its last day in session, requires every school district in the state to adopt an anti-bullying policy by Sept. 1, 2007.

In a changing world with more people living in virtual communities found online, such real connections become even more vital to the well-being of our children and the quality of life in our communities.

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