Wednesday, February 04, 2009




February 3, 2009 - I didn't want to volunteer at my son's school.

image There, I said it. I didn't mean forever, just not right then. With my son having recently started kindergarten and his little brother in preschool three mornings of the week, I had visions of free time in my head. But then my head was full of guilt. I felt like a draft dodger keeping a low profile in order to avoid the government, aka the PTA.

I always planned on volunteering, but I figured it would consist of showing up with cupcakes during the holidays and chaperoning a few field trips during the year. After all, that's what my mom did. Well, I found out those days are unfortunately over, and the pressure to volunteer is more intense than that of any of my old "real" jobs.

I'm astounded by how many times I was asked to volunteer. Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely sensitive to our school's needs. But I really had no idea that so much parental help was needed.

So I was wondering, did I have to be a giver?

Couldn't I just enjoy my free time to do all those selfish things I planned on doing, like cleaning the junk out of our garage and going to the grocery store all by myself? OK, I was planning a visit to the spa too.

Would my children's education truly suffer and the school crumble if I'm not there?

I didn't dare complain to the other mothers - they all seemed to be doers. I was afraid that they probably already had me pegged as the slacker mom.


The volunteer requests and pleas from school continued. Not to mention the numerous fundraising packets being sent home. The school seemed to be begging for help, and this concerned me.

When I grew up (back in the olden days when Nixon was president), music, physical education, sports and art were all programs that were funded by state and local taxes. Going on a field trip didn't cost a dime. The only fundraisers we had were the yearly school carnivals, with maybe a couple of bake sales thrown in.

The PTA was indeed an important component of the school, but it wasn't expected to support all these programs. Now, without our PTA and volunteers, these programs wouldn't exist.

The more I started thinking about the funding issues for these programs and the staff cutbacks, the more enraged I became. Why aren't more of our tax dollars going to our children's education?

Of course I've always been aware of our public education crisis, but I guess sometimes issues and problems don't sink in until they hit home, and your oldest son starts kindergarten.

Now I was wondering, what the heck has happened? Why are things getting worse and not better? I needed to find out, and who better to call than my school's PTA president?

I have to tell you that I had to take a couple of deep breaths before I made the call to her. As the phone was ringing, I was secretly hoping that my call would go into her voice mail. But no, I got her on the phone immediately. After introducing myself and explaining my concern with our public schools and funding, I told her I wanted to learn more, I wanted to meet with her, and I wanted to blog about it. She agreed, and I was set to meet with the PTA president.

Holy macaroni, the PTA president and the slacker mom sitting down for a chat - talk about worlds colliding.

I guess I was hoping that maybe I could help too. It's not about me and my precious free time anymore - it's about our kids and their education. Geez, did I say that? That PTA is really rubbing off on me. I didn't even tell you that I broke down and sent in my membership form. Yep, they got me.

I had high hopes. Maybe I could make a difference and still maintain my slacker mom status. Gosh darn it. ... I guess I really did care!

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