National PTA seeks to reverse drop in membership

DAVID CRARY AP National Writer Published:

The PTA, one of the most venerable American volunteer-based nonprofits, has seen its membership decline. At its peak in the 1960s it claimed about 12 million members, but today that number is under 5 million.

Demography is part of the reason, as many single parents and working mothers find it hard to spare extra time for engagement at their children's schools. But other factors behind the shrinkage include frustration with having to pay state and national PTA dues, and disenchantment with the PTA's role as a vocal advocate on such issues as charter schools, juvenile justice and home-schooling.

"We're still strong, but it is a concern," president Betsy Landers said. PTA has a number of initiatives, including expanded use of social media, to address the membership decline, she said.