Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Jackson P.T.A. Meets The Learning Curve

Now for the record, we generally like the PTA.

Which left us scratching our heads when we read
this story about a certain survey that the PTA in Jackson, Mississippi sent out to parents: (emphasis added)
Jackson PTA officials have reminded a local school president to follow procedure after he distributed a survey to parents that asked if they wanted their children to become "a drug addict, a thief or a prostitute."

Michael Gater, vice president of elementary school programs for the Jackson Council of PTAs, said he talked to Lester Elementary PTA President David Gatlin about a letter and survey he handed parents earlier this month.

Gater said Gatlin, who is serving his first year as PTA president, didn't clear the wording with his local board nor with Principal Douglas Scott before he distributed the flyers. It's unclear how many were given to parents.

Gatlin couldn't be reached for comment Thursday or Friday. Scott was out of town Friday and couldn't be reached.

Gater said Gatlin was trying to sign parents up as volunteers. He wrote a letter outlining positive aspects of parent involvement in children's lives. Then he attached a survey asking parents to check a box to volunteer for specific activities, Gater said.

The last box said, "No, I don't want to be involved (I want my child to become a drug addict, a thief or a prostitute)," Gater said.

"That was indicating in the absence of your involvement, someone else would get involved and steer your child in the wrong direction," Gater said. "The whole intent was to encourage parent participation. There were poor choices of words in the survey. It could have been communicated differently so as not to offend."

Gater said Gatlin apologized to the Lester Elementary PTA.

Gater called Gatlin to explain that he is supposed to clear all PTA correspondence with his board and the principal. "I don't think we'll have a repeat episode," he said.

Jackson Superintendent Earl Watkins said Scott heard about the survey and collected all he could find. The district "was not aware of the survey and recognizes that it reflects poor judgement," Watkins said in a prepared statement.

Gladys Bailey, president of the Jackson Council of PTAs, said the council offers training to new presidents on proper procedures.
Well... it is PTA President Gatlin's first year... and he is volunteering his time. And Gatlin's heart seems to be in the right place.

I think he deserves a "break" on this one.

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