As a powerful voice for ALL children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for the education and well-being of EVERY child, PTAs are well equipped to foster diversity, equity and inclusion principles in their schools and community.
Our diversity is our strength! PTA volunteers who are “intentional” in their DEI efforts are most likely to experience great outcomes that benefit all children and their families rather than isolated patches of success.
A great place to start DEI work in your school is through establishing PTA as a “safe space”, a sanctuary, for ALL families to be able to, not only gather information, but also express opinions, concerns and needs and feel heard and embraced.
PTA can be a resource empowering those traditionally less likely to be engaged in their children’s learning and wellbeing by organizing parent/guardian trainings and events as well as sharing information on relevant topics.
Analyze the diversity, level of inclusion and equity in your PTA’s membership, governance, programs & advocacy efforts. Identify areas of success and others in need of more work. Set goals and action plans to address each of these areas.
Form a DEI Committee in your unit, council or region with clearly defined charges and goals that are periodically reviewed and updated.
PTA needs to seek a diverse membership that reflects the diversity of the student body and community it serves through “targeted outreach” efforts. Consider which groups are less likely to join your PTA and/or participate in meetings and events. Examples: contact leaders in specific groups or community organizations, hold meetings where other gatherings take place, organize a joint meeting or event, etc. Recruit liaisons who are active members in these organizations.
To achieve successful outreach, we need to educate ourselves regarding cultures, traditions, challenges, restrictions, etc. of groups we aim to reach.
Address issues that matter the most to those you need to engage. Ensure PTA’s advocacy efforts represent all children including those typically marginalized and those whose families may not be equally engaged. PTA’s advocacy initiatives must be non-political and non-biased.
Create a welcoming environment for conversations considered difficult, with a clear understanding we may not agree on everything, but must agree to uphold PTA’s mission and values and our collective goal to serve and keep safe ALL children.
Engage in ongoing meaningful conversations with school and district administration, Boards of Education and other stakeholders that recognize the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in all decisions.
PTA leadership should also be representative of the student body and community they serve. In their constant efforts to seek new volunteers, PTA leaders are encouraged to recruit leaders from underrepresented groups.
When recruiting diverse leaders, consider the “whole person”, i.e. each individual’s interests, passions and expertise, not only their color, gender, cultural background or spoken language(s). Recruiting people in areas of PTA work they are passionate about and interested in is more likely to set them for success and encourage them to grow as leaders.
When seeking new PTA leaders, remember that recruitment does not end with identifying individuals with leadership qualities. It is important to set them up for success and offer support while providing them with the space they need to put their own personal stamp.
Establish fair and equitable practices in all areas of PTA’s work, including, but not limited to, decision making, nominations, elections, appointments, participation, events, topics and services. Such practices establish trust and respect for the organization as a whole as well as its leadership.
Most importantly, if leaders are reminded of PTA’s mission, vision and core values as the focus and purpose of all PTA work, they’re on the right path to applying the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in their service to school, community and to EVERY child with ONE voice.