Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ludlow-Taylor PTA Meeting

So I've been trying to navigate the maze of DCPS to try and figure out where BabyRat is going to go to school when the time comes. So far I've been to Peabody and Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School (LTES) in an attempt to plot a course of action.

At this point we've more or less settled on Ludlow-Taylor, mostly because it's our in-boundary school and as a result we're trying to get involved with the school so I went to the PTA meeting last night.

There were a couple of other families there that I recognized from Stanton Park and the community meeting that we attended back in March at LTES as well as Mr. Weaver (the PTA President), Dr. Presswood (outgoing Principal), Dr. Govan (from DCPS Cluster 3), and several teachers for a total of about 15 people.

Here's where it starts to get interesting. I had received information that new members would be able to join at the beginning of the meeting, but when I arrived there was no one there to accept new members. Before too long someone showed up to collect money and so forth and we were able to join the PTA, but those of us without children were only able to join as members of the "Presidential Unit." Meaning that those of us without children in the school may, " . . . attend general PTA meetings, donate funds, help organize fundraising events, and volunteer your time; however, you may neither vote nor serve in official PTA positions such as committee chairpersons or Executive Board Members."

From what I was able to gather, this "Presidential Unit" thing was a change to the by-laws that was made at the last PTA meeting. A few new families signed up for the PTA and when I realized that all I had were Yuppie Food Coupons, one of the other Dads there just gave me $10 to join and said I could get him back later.

Finally the meeting started with the usual passing out of an agenda and officer's reports. The Treasurer made a point of saying that Presidential Unit membership dues are not a part of the general PTA fund, which led to some questions about exactly how that money would be used. There was a couple of minutes of back and forth and everyone seemed to be satisfied the result.

There was also some discussion about a Summer Program too. At the LTES Community there was a guy there who was pretty vocal in his distrust of Friends of Ludlow-Taylor. Let's call him "Vocal Parent" or VP for short. Having only seen VP once, I wasn't sure quite what his deal was but I found out last night. VP just seems to have a confrontational personality; he laid into someone who was merely reporting news that he didn't like. It definitely puts VP's performance at the community meeting into a different, less raced based, perspective. Although I have to say, every time I've been at a meeting at LTES VP has been there and that's not something I can say about a lot of the parents at that school. I think in the months and years to come VP will prove to be a powerful ally and/or opponent at various times.

Next up was Dr. Govan from DCPS Cluster 3. Dr. Govan was explaining the process for hiring the new principal of DCPS. There seems to be a lot of layers of bureaucracy in the search and hiring process, but that hardly comes as a surprise. There's a Local School Restructuring Team (LSRT) that places its chairperson on the search committee and then there are various groups of stakeholders who are represented as well. When Dr. Govan was giving more details on how questions are submitted and asked to the candidates, VP jumped into the mix. VP started grilling about whether or not the candidates knew the questions beforehand and generally was all over Dr. Govan about the whole process.

The process for selecting a new principal seems very HR driven; like the whole deal is set up solely to make sure the school system doesn't get sued and not to select the best candidates. One other interesting little tidbit is that the Chancellor is not obligated to select one of the candidates the search committee recommends. When asked about this Dr. Govan said, "When it gets to the Chancellor, anything can happen."

Keep the comments coming!!!


Anonymous said...

I've heard a lot of contention about the whole "presidential unit" business. As understand it, the "presidential unit" has historically been a way for politicians, celebrities, etc. to be invited to be part of the State PTA as non-voting members, and that's all it's ever been. The current DC State PTA President has been revising normally unscrutinized and overlooked by-laws and inserting this language into PTA "local unit" (school-level) by-laws without consulting the local units about whether they want this option or not. I personally think, and the former DC State PTA president agrees, that this runs directly against the stated aim of the PTA. The National PTA website says... "PTA is an inclusive organization that is open to all adults who care about children and schools."

Hill Rat said...


It definitely seemed a little shady to me, like this rule change was implemented specifically to make sure that a block of parents didn't try to join the PTA en masse and take over.

Any info on the DC "State" PTA President and what his or her deal is?

Thanks for commenting!!



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