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What’s Working in Texas: Volunteerism and Parental Involvement

Photo Courtesy of Darlene Shue

Across the great state of Texas, educators struggle with inadequate funding for public education. Legislative sessions over the last eight years have cut funding until there are really no choices left in what has to go. Educators and parents are equally frustrated with this situation. Unfortunately, until legislators understand the importance of properly educating the youth—and therefore the future—of Texas, this problem will continue to exist. Luckily, there are a few legislators who fight for these youths. There are also many parents and community partners who do as much as they can to make this bad situation better. Across Texas, PTAs step up to the challenge by volunteering their time in an effort to improve the educational experience for all students. 

The PTAs who are most successful in this endeavor work closely with their campus to engage parents and address the needs created by the financial deficits.  There are also many companies who donate volunteer hours, materials, and funds to help ease the strain of underfunding. Some of these community partners are found by the school districts, others by PTAs who encourage the community to adopt the schools. 

There is much work to be done in encouraging parents who do not yet understand the importance that their involvement makes in their students' education. The size of our state presents unique challenges to education, due to the diversity in our population and culture. Our work goes on in reaching out to help those PTAs who struggle with parental engagement and organizing PTAs where no parent group exists, but it is an exciting process. 

We find that the dire situation of underfunding has made some districts realize how beneficial parent groups can be. As a result, they truly welcome parents on campus.  Mandates given to us do not always reach the local level.  Despite this, Texas is blessed with many, hard working volunteers who offer up their time for all the children of this great state. 

Darlene Wilson Shue is the Texas Mom Congress representative for 2011. She is a Montessori teacher of 23 years.  She has three fabulous sons, a beautiful daughter-in-law, and the most wonderful granddaughter in the whole world.  Her home is in Fort Worth, TX.