How Comunitario PTAs are Different than Traditional Parent Involvement
The Comunitario PTA process is an innovation for parent organizations and also for school-family-community collaborations. The organization follows the essential elements of establishing a formal PTA, and members elect officers who hold monthly membership meetings and pay the required dues. Leaders are elected from the participating families regardless of formal education, class or language capabilities. But there are other core aspects that distinguish them from traditional models for parent involvement.
- Community-based organizations sponsor and collaborate with schools to establish and maintain Comunitario PTAs. Collaboration includes co-planning, sharing in responsibilities for outreach and conducting ongoing activities to improve education in their neighborhood public schools.
- Meetings and activities in the South Texas groups are conducted primarily in Spanish. Because this approach grew out of work with grassroots community organizations working with the poor English-learning recent immigrant families living in unincorporated and isolated communities (colonias) of south Texas, the meetings must be linguistically appropriate and culturally competent.
- Meetings include public school educational information and actionable data that leads to projects carried out by the membership.
- Centered on a promotoras, or peer organizing, model volunteer leaders from the community serve and engage families in education as leaders and for collective action to improve schools. Outreach and connection with families is critical to family participation, and transportation services are provided or organized to make possible attendance at events.
- Comunitario PTAs engage with and support family leaders in the colonias or other marginalized neighborhoods, not to play auxiliary or fundraising roles in schools, but to examine data on how their own children, and children across the region, are doing. They partner with their schools to expand educational opportunity.
- Connections are established with schools attended by the children of the members although the Comunitario PTA keeps an independent and separate identity.