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Most people don’t know the difference between a P.T.A. and a P.T.O.

Main difference: PTA is a national group, while PTOs are locally controlled and don’t have to pay national leadership.

In this Wall Street Journal article, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444549204578022683272864910.html

we find out the differences.  We also find out why one parent-teacher organization (PTA) is suing the other (PTO)!

I decided not to join my child’s school’s PTA this year.  I’ll give money directly to the school or the classroom, but not to the PTA.  Why?  Only one reason:  because the National PTA is pushing Common Core. 

They’ve taken huge donations from Bill Gates to promote Common Core, which is not good for our kids.  And they don’t even admit Common Core is far from a politically neutral movement.  But anyway…

Here’s this week’s article on the subject, reposted from the Wall Street Journal:

By STEPHANIE BANCHERO    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444549204578022683272864910.html

CHICAGO—The national PTA sued a rival parent group in court here, claiming the group is infringing on its trademark and poaching members, in the latest controversy involving parents’ role in public education.

The National Congress of Parents and Teachers, the umbrella organization of the PTA, sued the parent company of PTO Today on Wednesday in U.S. District Court, accusing the for-profit company of using “false and misleading statements encouraging members to leave the National PTA” and opt, instead, to form a local parent-teacher organization, or PTO.

The 115-year-old, nonprofit PTA is a membership organization with about 25,000 chapters and roughly five million parents who pay annual dues of between $5 and $10. Donations made up nearly $10 million of the organization’s $14 million in annual revenue in 2011, according to its annual report. PTA officials say membership has dropped steadily for at least 10 years, but declined to provide exact figures.

The PTA provides resources and advice to parents, and it also lobbies local and national lawmakers on behalf of public schools. It supports “adequate and equitable” funding for schools, and opposes vouchers.

PTO Today, founded in 1999 and a unit of School Family Media Inc., provides resources to thousands of independent parent groups, many known as PTOs, and to local PTAs, according to PTO Today, which was founded by Tim Sullivan, who estimates there are about 55,000 PTOs.

The company’s revenue primarily comes from advertising in the monthly magazine it produces for elementary schools. PTO Today doesn’t lobby.

The suit claims that PTO Today has traded on the venerable PTA trademark and used false advertising to imply an association between the two groups. As a result, the suit claims, the PTA has suffered irreparable harm.

In the suit, the PTA asks the court to prohibit PTO Today from encouraging local PTA groups to leave the national chapter. It also asks the court to bar PTO Today from using the PTA name on its website, magazine or ads.

The two sides say they have spent the last few years trying to settle the matter before the suit was filed.

“They have made a number of false statements about the PTA and have laid out a road map for parents to leave the PTA,” said Betsy Landers, president of the national PTA, in a phone interview.

Mr. Sullivan denied the charges. He noted that the PTA has been losing membership since its heyday in the 1960s, when it claimed 12 million parents. “It is not the fault of PTO that the PTA is struggling,” he said in an interview.

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