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PTAs make major difference

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I am writing in response to Elaine Salisbury's letter regarding PTA and her obvious effort to try and attack the integrity of an organization that has worked hard for children for more than 100 years.

It is always a curious thing to me when someone takes a stand to cut down any organization that works hard to do good things. Like many people who try to push an agenda, Elaine tries to make National PTA into the bogeyman.

I would ask Elaine to tell the readers just what issues that National PTA stands for that are on the opposite side of the fence of what she stands for. Is it the fact that National PTA was the force for getting school lunches in the schools or that it was the organization that helped get child labor laws in this country? Is it the fact that National PTA helped get seatbelt laws enacted as well as countless traffic safety laws to protect our children?

Is it all the effort that has gone on by National PTA to minimize violence on television and in movies? Is it the fact that National PTA has worked hard against pornography and helped to get laws passed dealing with this terribly destructive material? Does she realize that National PTA worked very hard to get parent-teacher conferences going in schools? Maybe she doesn't like the fact that PTA has worked so hard against drugs and tobacco use by our children and those who target them. Could it be the educational materials that National PTA has developed on helping parents be better parents? Perhaps she doesn't like the fact that National PTA has educated parents to get children immunized against terribly life-threatening diseases and helped to promote programs in the schools for that effort.

Does she not like the fact that PTAs nationwide have helped get school nurses into their schools? Is it the fact that PTA has tried to combat drinking and driving by our children? Is it that National PTA has tried to hold the line on sex education by advocating only abstinence-based programs in schools?

Just as Elaine Salisbury suggested, I would invite the readers of your publication to visit the National PTA Web site at www.pta.org and review their history before you listen to any more horror stories about National PTA. The readers of your newspaper need to understand that there is an organized effort by fund-raising organizations to undermine PTA in this state so that they can develop fund-raising PTOs.

I work very hard on the state PTA board as the individual development commissioner. I spend countless hours totally as a volunteer every week training PTAs across our state on how to develop self-esteem programs, programs on citizenship, programs on character development and also the wonderful Reflections program, which is totally sponsored by the National PTA to help our children express their creativity through art, literature, music, photography, dance, theater and video filmmaking. Do any of these areas strike you as particularly evil in nature?

Your readers need to know that it was ultimately the National PTA that stepped in on a national level to help Utah get their trust lands exchanged so that the children of Utah could keep the money that was rightfully theirs for education. I would say that the membership money that parents pay to join PTA in Utah will return to everyone a hundred fold through those trust lands money given to the individual schools. I would invite all your readers to check the facts before they make a judgment.

It really pays to belong to a statewide and national organization with clout. National PTA and Utah State PTA are run by their members, and it is each individual member that directs what the organization stands for. We receive our voice to vote based on the number of memberships we sell in Utah. I attended the national convention, and Utah had a strong voice, and we did make a difference. Let's keep that voice strong.

Margaret Wahlstrom of Kaysville is individual development commissioner on the Utah PTA state board.