Turning Down PTA Donations

Someone send us this letter below to send back to the PTA when they ask for donations. It’s a good template so we’re publishing it. Someone else emailed us concerned that the local PTA’s are doing a lot of good in the schools in spite of national and state leaders pushing them to endorse Common Core. While this may be true, their dues are supporting the national agenda. This person recommends that everyone show up at PTA meetings to help explain to people what Common Core is all about and help educate these parent volunteers. She said that as long as you don’t join PTA, donations that are given after membership drives stay local. I do not know about this myself, so I’m just posting it as a possibility. The best thing would be to check if your school has a PTO (most charter schools do, most district schools do not). A PTO is 100% local so all funds stay at the school. If you have a PTA at your school and can disband it and form a PTO, that’s a great objective.

Dear PTA,

This year I will be withholding my annual PTA  donation.  I am concerned about the financially indebted relationship that has developed between PTA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Gates’ push for the academically experimental Common Core.  I refer to the following announcement, found on the Gates Foundation website:


National PTA to Mobilize Parents for Common Core Standards – Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Receives $1 million grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to engage parents in four states.

CHICAGO — – National PTA is positioning itself as a key player at the front line of education reform.  The association today announced a new three-year effort to mobilize parents to advance key education priorities, beginning with common core state standards—a voluntary, state-led, internationally benchmarked set of high academic standards in English language arts and mathematics. A $1 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will help support the effort.


I would support the formation of a local PTO where all monies collected from parents would go to the school, rather than being sent to the national group.


15 thoughts on “Turning Down PTA Donations”

  1. Yes you can donate and every penny stays local. If you join and become a member then 90% of your membership fees go onto council, region, state, & national.

    The PTA at the school my child attends considered going PTO but we don’t have the volunteers to do the leg work to change. But it may come up again next year. Instead we decided to push parental involvement & volunteering over collecting members.

    1. We are talking about $6 in annual membership fees that will provide parents a voice at the national level, whether it is to lobby congress or to put the interests of students, teachers and parents at the forefront. There is nothing stopping anyone from paying that $6 in fees and continuing to donate later to have their funds used locally or continuing to volunteer time at school to improve education at your neighborhood school. If the PTA is endorsing the common core, could it be that parents at the national level are interested in the benefits and the promise of common core ? $6 is a small price to pay to garner the attention of the US congress that is notorious for it’s lack of attention span.

    2. Local is great for many things but when it comes to education, it goes against the definition of education to be preoccupied by Local vs. non-local. If we had just local funding and ideas at the university level, our state would be poorer both for the money and the education.
      Not everything is wrong with the common core. It was adopted at the national level. We are after all part of the same nation. Let the schools teach what is best in the name of education. Let the parents and churches teach values that they cherish. Let the children make up their own minds. They can be critical thinking beings if we give them the credit they deserve. There is no need to cast them in the parents mold and clone our thinking onto theirs.

      1. It’s easy to make comments anonymously in my opinion, but to me they are hardly genuine. I don’t support the PTA financially. I give money to the school when they need it but don’t join the PTA because they support so many things I am against. They support teachers who shouldn’t be teaching, unions who drive up costs, and national agendas that are not in the best interest of my child. They put on event after event at the school that bring private businesses in, hype up the kids about buying things from the private business, and then gouge the kids selling overpriced worthless goods claiming that a portion goes back to the school. It’s a very small portion. I just keep asking myself, so what exactly are my tax dollars paying for if the school has no money? All it tells me is that we are still a long way from any meaningful reform in education.

        And the key is local control. It does not go against the definition of education to be concerned about each individual student. That’s so silly. It is the definition of education! Education cannot be universal, that is indoctrination. Education is an individual event. Each child spread out on a beautiful spectrum of ability and aptitude mastering concepts at their own pace, excelling where they can and getting assistance where it’s needed. Universal minimums, with all their good intentions, simply become universal maximums in our one teacher 30 student public system. Because, once the student reaches the minimum they become an observer as teachers scramble to get everyone to the minimum. It ignores the very nature of the human race, that we are all different.

        Local control reduces costs, encourages parent teacher communication and empowers teachers to assist each child to their maximum potential. The arguments made anonymously above are disingenuous and full of fallacy and inflammatory language. My children are not clones of me, and I hope they are cast from an even better mold than I, but I do have a responsibility to teach them morals and values, not simply because I cherish them but because they are necessary for their survival and happiness. I am not taking away their critical thinking skills, on the contrary I am nurturing these skills so that they will be valuable tools in the future to recognize diatribe when they encounter it.

        1. I can only write from my personal experience with the PTA in our school and they do none of the things you mention. They have a fun run, game fair, bake sales and art sales and all the money they raise goes towards enriching activities for the students that the school district cannot afford to pay for. The parents in each school can provide direction to their PTA group on how they want to handle fundraisers. Local control… if they choose to exercise it.

          My comments about clones were not meant to inflame but stress the point that if we primarily look to local sources for all educational ideas and areas of emphasis, the best we can do is to teach from our very limited local experience. We start dumbing down our tests to make our state look better instead of getting a true measure of how our students are doing until it is too late when they reach college. Talk to any freshman college instructor in Utah and ask them how prepared the majority of incoming students are with the current state of Utah K-12 education.

          Regarding teachers teaching to the minimum, we give them very little to work with, given the number of kids that are in the school system in Utah. Despite that, they put up heroic efforts and I have seen them do their best to continue challenging the high achievers while trying to help the struggling kids. Parent volunteers and teacher aides can help a lot here. The state will not provide more money for teacher aides. But the teachers can definitely use more parent volunteers to in their classroom to bring up the standard of education. Again local participation…if we choose to exercise it.

          One reason I post anonymously is because I want my comments to stand for what they are instead of who makes them. Besides, I have no aspirations for political office or media attention:)

          1. Anonymous, everyone else makes comments under their real name because they don’t fear to identify who they are or stand for their comments. Whether or not you want to run for office or get media attention is irrelevant. You post here all the time. Whether you’re a public school teacher, or work with genetics, don’t be afraid of who you are. :)
            You are exactly right on the preparedness level of freshmen at college. It’s pathetic and you can talk to any instructor and they’ll tell you how unprepared students are.
            If you want local participation, give the authority back to parents by eliminating compulsory education and truancy laws so parents have to parent again instead of putting extra burdens on teachers.

          2. I appreciate your willingness to continue the conversation. This dialogue is important because it makes clear the weaknesses and strengths of each argument.

            We agree on several of your points. Students are ill prepared for college; teachers are overwhelmed and lack many of the resources that would make them successful. They do their best in most cases. What I find interesting is your claim that local control is the cause of these epidemic symptoms. In fact, I find this astonishing. In the first place, local control has been deteriorating in education for decades since the Department of Education was inaugurated. To claim that the decrease in college preparedness is a result of increased local control is hard to reconcile. In the second place you ask the reader to make a very difficult assumption-That is that our local experience is “very limited”. Again I’m quite astonished at the claim. Local control does not mean ignoring resources, educational and technological advances, and looking only to local knowledge banks for the complete breadth of information. It means each parent piloting the education of their child. It means ensuring that the teaching is consistent with a value system contiguous with the culture. It means directing the expenditure of funds with the local understanding of needs. All things, which I am very confident, we have both the experience and expertise, in fact some of the best expertise in the world, to accomplish locally.

            So let’s talk solutions-Positive proposals. First we need to decrease our dependency on federal funding thus freeing us from the confines of bureaucratic dictation. Freeing teachers to challenge every student across the spectrum and assist them to succeed. Second this same freedom from federal whims will prevent our children from being treated as guinea pigs constantly the subject of every new theory of how to educate the masses. Local control will allow parents to use the time tested method of individual mastery that is the hallmark of Ivy League private education institutions. This will further be bolstered by dismantling the sponge like hierarchy of public schools. Large districts that soak up funding to support overpaid superintendents and bureaucrats should become a thing of the past. Tax payer funding (because let’s face it we all have an interest in the education of the coming generation) should be attached to the child; not padding the pockets of those not directly educating our children. The public education system has become a leviathan of enormous size that is crushing the individual teacher, the individual child, the individual success. In short, the weight of federal interference and the massive bureaucracy that it brings is what is keeping children from being college ready not local control and by implication the parent. No one can dispute that the most successful children are those with the most involved parents, proof that local is better.

        2. Spencer – Well said.
          Anonymous, you appear both ignorant and naive to the educational process. Public schools will now be even worse in teaching to the test to look good with common core. So many better methods that teach children to think for themselves and get the love of learning back. Local control is better.
          My child’s teacher can’t make a simple decision on her own without permission from the principal who has to consult the district who can’t do anything that isn’t a cookie cutter answer from the state who is now controlled from the National School Board. What does Washington DC know about my children’s individual needs that will help them excel? They don’t! There is no one size fits all. When you have local control, we are not closed minded people who are uneducated. You get better solutions because it allows the parent to be more involved. We have amazing resources and people from all over the world here. You really don’t make any sense.

        3. Very well put, Spencer.
          + my 2 cents. When did it become a bad thing for parents to instill values and morals in their children? Oh wait..since parents decided to be selfish and lazy and not parent their kids. Thus, setting their kids up to be epic failures!

  2. Bill and Linda Gates can give money to whom ever they wish for what ever reason. I have no problem with that. As for me, I will not give even $5.00 to any organization that is in league with out of control unions or actively promotes the Planned Parenthood agenda of abortion and homosexuality. I stopped giving to United Way 30 years ago when I realized they were funding LaRaza, a violent, racist, anti-American organization. I give locally to organizations I know and trust. By the same token I support the PTO vice the PTA in order to keep both the money and the control local. Thank you.

  3. http://www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/394-501c3-for-ptos This article outlines the steps needed to start a PTO.
    I have personally started a PTO in another state. It was not an overwhelming, difficult process. I read the instructions the government set forth to create a 501c3 non-profit and utilized the resources on the internet and from PTO Today. When the parents met to decide whether starting a PTO or aligning ourselves with the PTA was what we wanted, it was unanimous that parents did not want to be part of a political movement. The PTA masquerades as a parent group but has become nothing more than a national lobbying group that willingly takes donations from groups like the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in exchange for promoting things like the Common Core Education Reform, abortion, and sex education starting in kindergarten. They are also opposed to school choice, private schools, and homeschooling. The PTA has its roots in benevolent efforts that were founded in helping women become better mothers through education and support, but has become nothing more than a money grabbing institution bent on furthering the educational goals of its hierarchy and other groups it has aligned itself with such as the teacher’s unions. https://www.capitalresearch.org/pubs/pdf/x3765443936.pdf
    PTO’s are wonderful organizations that are only accountable to parents, students, and the schools. They can maintain a close working relationship with schools to mold their efforts to match the needs of the schools without the political agenda.
    I wholeheartedly recommend parents work to move their school PTAs to PTOs.

  4. Defunding Common Core may just require defunding the PTA, a small percentage of PTA dollars at a time.

    August 14, 2013 at 9:12 am
    Anonymous says: “We are talking about $6 in annual membership fees that will provide parents a voice at the national level,…”

    $6 per person, for a whole state? Wow! Imagine if all of Utah decided not to join PTA. How much power that would be!

    In my opinion, a “PTO” is not even needed. If parents will just get together, talk to their kids’ teachers and see what help they need, and help the teachers in the classroom as needed, there is no need for any official organization. If parents want to set up a meeting and talk about creating activities for Valentines Day & Halloween, they can do so without an official organization. The only thing they will be lacking will be funds. Can they run fundraisers without having an official organization? If people trust the parents in charge with their donations, I don’t see why not! If the people don’t trust the treasurer, find one people can & do trust!

    For those of you who want to do all this extra, unnecessary hard work and do a PTO:

    PTO Startup Guide: http://www.ptotoday.com/startup-guide
    How to Start a PTO: http://www.cullinanelaw.com/nonprofit-law-basics-how-do-i-start-a-parent-teacher-organization-pto/

    1. Lisa, the benefit of the PTO as it relates to the money issue is that there is a buffer between well meaning parents and that one person that isn’t. It makes the money handling transparent and public. You are correct that parents can just get together and do what is agreed upon between them, the teachers, and the administration at any given school. If parent’s don’t want to do what it takes to organized a PTO then they can donate directly to the school but that money may not go directly for what may be needed because it is controlled by government laws and regulations. It also takes a very long time to get the money where it needs to go because of the regulations.
      One example of the benefit of the PTO for funding purposes is a grant program we did for teachers when my kids were in elementary school. The PTO was able to grant to teachers $200 to be spent on educational/enrichment supplies for their classrooms and there was no red tape. They submitted their request and the PTO voted on them. The teachers purchased what they wanted and submitted their receipts and were immediately reimbursed by the PTO. The teachers were thrilled, our students were able to utilize the supplies immediately, and the parents saw how their donations went 100% to the schools. They could see the direct effect of their efforts.
      Whichever situation fits best for parents, donating to the PTA means they are contributing to a lobbying machine that supports federal intrusion into our local schools. They support common core, the longitudinal data base system, and a whole host of other programs that aren’t in line with the relationship between a school and its population.

  5. I get a little tired of the claim that Utah schools lack resources and are underfunded. First of all, if you’ve ever done any homeschooling, there are wonderful materials in the public domain. I completely agree with Spencer’s comment about how bureaucracy heavy education has become and I think those funds could be better distributed. But, I would put Utah schools up against any as far as what Utah is able to buy per education dollar. Additionally, tax payers are facing tough times. Our entire state income tax in Utah is dedicated to education. 64% of all taxes collected by the state are used up by public ed and we haven’t even touched what is donated in property tax or volunteerism. Property taxes in our county have tripled in the last 12 years. Our income hasn’t tripled. We have more then 20 district employees working at the district receiving well in to 6 figure salaries while the medium income in our district is $50,000. Then we build 13 and 14 million dollar schools with every bell and whistle.
    The biggest problems in education are really problems in the home. The more schools try to compensate for those shortfalls, the more they will continue to fall away from the classical education that benefits most children most.

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