March 1, 2013
This one’s about the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) of the East Williston School District (EWSD). Since I’ll be talking about the teachers in the next issue, some comments regarding the parents need to be offered.
I was out to dinner (The Lobster Box) with a former student last week. He had gone on to become a lawyer (!*?!) and Ph.D., and achieve the position of Assistant Provost (my boss). For many years, he also served as President of a School Board at a Westchester school, similar in size to the EWSD. He offered the following to me during dinner about parents: “Your analysis is not far from hitting the mark. Based on my experience in dealing with the various interested parties, it’s obvious that most parents have shamelessly ranked their children’s needs – irrespective of the cost and impact on others – as a top priority. The teachers, along with their union, have exploited the PTO’s misguided agenda over the years. Thus, the PTO has been a willing partner and the disaster that has resulted was predictable. Face it. Look elsewhere if you are trying to implement reform. For parents, whatever the cost, it doesn’t matter as long as their kids get what they want.”
I used to think that most of the parents either simply act out of fear or honestly believe that they are doing the right thing. Now I have some doubts based on the above comments. Obviously, some have to know that the EWSD is a dysfunctional organization that is not serving the best interests of the parents, schoolchildren, seniors and taxpayers. As I have repeatedly stated, the District’s ranking and reputation is in a freefall decline, the student:teacher ratio is 9.75:1.0, the annual per capita student cost is $30,000+, there is essentially no accountability in the District, teacher absenteeism is rampant, Wheatley seniors are having difficulty getting into the school of their choice, and some seniors lack college preparedness. The teachers are teaching less, their indifference has increased, and the teacher role model is a thing of the past. Astonishingly, the parents have come to accept this. The ax is certain to fall when their child(ren) reach graduation age. Yet, the parents in our District appear not to be concerned. You the parents – need to make the call at this point in time.
Our District needs to turn things around. The 9.75/1.0 ratio is insane; it is simply not acceptable. Our district needs an organization and/or a Superintendent who will correct this ratio. This simple action, which will positively affect our community, is understandably opposed by the teachers and the administrators, as well as the present corrupt Board. The self-serving PTO officers and many of the members are also willing to sit on the sidelines.
Here are a few points to keep in mind regarding the PTO:
- Remember the 2010 budget vote? The PTO sent out a last-minute flyer to the voters that was full of lies. I dissected the flyer’s contentions in a “Letter to the Editor” and proved that EVERY point they raised was a LIE. Guess what? They never responded. Imagine being called a liar and not responding. But then again, this is how this organization operates. It is unfortunate that most parents are unwilling to accept the fact that lying and indifference truly characterizes the EWSD PTO.
- Most people I know believe the PTO uses resources that they are not legally entitled to. I know it and can prove it. The former Superintendent offered cunningly worded denials of this fact since she knew there have been too many parents involved in this improper activity (who can prove me right).
- Last year, there were large budget-related signs posted above the three EWSD schools. I sent letters requesting an explanation as to who paid for the signs and who authorized the placing of these signs at the three schools. Interestingly, the signs were taken down within a few days following my “FOIL” submission. I received a signed statement indicating that “no such documentation exists” regarding the expenditure or authorization. Well, how could this have possibly come about? Here is how they got around it. Later, buried in a Board agenda action item was the following: “Recommendation to accept with appreciation the gift of budget banners from the PTO Coordinating Council.” This certified, beyond any doubt, the PTO is as corrupt as former Superintendent Lewis, the Board, the teachers, and the teacher’s union. They were all involved (in my opinion) in this corrupt conduct.
- I’ve asked for an opportunity to address the PTO membership on numerous occasions. Each request has been denied. I believe the PTO officers simply want to retain an advantage for their kids over the children of the rank-and-file parents. They have regular meetings, continue to congratulate themselves, conspire to squelch anyone and/or any group questioning their ineptness, and fiercely insist on maintaining the status quo. Unfortunately, their policy of squelching the opposition is working. Concerned parent members should demand an explanation.
What does all this mean? The PTO leadership has sacrificed the best interests of the schoolchildren (and the taxpayers) in order to (perhaps?) gain an advantage for their kids with teachers and administrators, all at the expense of the children of other parents. And if the other parents don’t believe this statement, I’ve got a bridge to sell them. Simply put: many parents have and continue to be duped.
I’ve concluded that the PTO will continue to ignore the call for reform in the future. The parents, seniors and schoolchildren should not expect any relief in the immediate or near future. It’s basically a lost cause.
I return next month to address issues involving the self-serving (or is corrupt more appropriate?) teachers and their union.
NEXT POSTING: April 1, 2013 – The EWSD Teachers and Their Union