Even local PTAs are getting hip to the Net

Parents are taking full advantage of email and the Web for fundraising and other activities. And private businesses see a niche they can fill.
Written by ZDNET Editors, Contributor

The Internet is such a great communications tool, it's even catching on in the most low-tech organizations, like the PTA, reports Reuters.

"Parents are absolutely more tech-savvy in everything, from making announcements to online fund-raising to connecting more with communities, school administrations, managing calendars and scheduling all kinds of events online," said Jenni Gaster Sopko, a spokeswoman for the National PTA, which counts 26,000 chartered PTAs around the country among its members.

From fund-raising and budgeting to organizing after-school programs, parent-teacher organizations (PTOs) are taking on larger roles in order to assist cash-strapped schools. In more affluent districts, parents are often highly skilled professionals and familiar with the latest high-tech gadgets and web innovations. But just in case there is a skills gap, business is stepping in.

"What we're finding is there's usually one techie parent who assists with a Web site, but as soon as they move on, the PTA isn't able to manage the site," said Scott Garland, chief financial officer of Mediablend, which offers a product called www.connectingparents.us">GoWebBuilder for use by PTAs at

The dark side of this parent involvement phenomenon is the quantity of email to administrators can sometimes be more a hindrance than a help to principals and administrators.

"The traditional notion of school fundraising has morphed into much greater activity and involvement by parents, and by-and-large that has been a good thing," said Vincent Ferrandino, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals. But sometimes, he noted, principals can feel "inundated."
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