The school year began like any other – Rebecca Levey’s twin daughters nervously waiting for their new teachers to herd them into a brand new classroom, parents giddy with excitement, eager to hand off their kids after a long summer break. But Levey, the New York delegate, turned around to head into the building to start her year as PTA (PA) Co-President. What awaits her is the reality of massive school budget cuts and the pressure for her PA to fundraise enough money to close the gap – over $600,000. Levey’s daughters’ New York City public school bursts at the seams with over 1,000 students. Last year her PA forced the Department of Education to admit overcrowding was an issue, and secured a new school put in the zone to help manage the overflow. The PA rose over $600,000 that year through auctions, pledge drives, community events and more to help pay for everything from books and furniture to a healthy school lunch program and professional development for teachers. The budget cuts were so severe last year that the PA will pay for substitute teachers this year as well.
As PA Co-President it’s Levey’s job to see to it that all of these services, enrichments, and programs happen – and get funded. But it’s also her job to make sure they celebrate as a community, creating a place where parents feel welcome and teachers feel valued. She feels that the hard work and sweat equity that parents put into the school cannot be understated. Levey has seen firsthand how powerful parents can be, but she has also seen how desperately we need real help to make good schools happen for everyone, focusing on better school funding and finding a real way to engage parents.