GUY RAZ, host:
You don't often hear people talk about the first male such-and-such because, let's face it, there's never really been a glass ceiling for men, except, it seems, at the PTA.
For 113 years, women have owned the top spot at the National Parent-Teacher Association, that is until today at 4:30 p.m. That's when South Carolinian Chuck Saylors broke the gender barrier and became the first man to run the PTA.
We spoke with Mr. Saylors just before his coronation in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where the PTA is holding its national convention.
Mr. Saylors, what's it feel like to be a first? Do you bristle at that label?
Mr. CHUCK SAYLORS (President, Parent-Teacher Association): Well, not necessarily bristle. This is a tremendous opportunity. As you know, our organization, the PTA, is made up of about 5.5 million people that do wonderful work all across the United States, and roughly 10 percent of that number represent men.
So I'm hoping that my position as the national president will highlight the role of men getting more involved in the PTA.
RAZ: We should explain that the National PTA was once called the National Congress of Mothers. Many people think of the PTA as an organization that organizes bake sales and so on. It's a pretty intimidating organization for a man, I suppose, to take over, or is it?
Mr. SAYLORS: Actually, you know, if I had to bristle at anything, it would be that the only thing the PTA does is organize bake sales. That as a stereotype, yes, is long past. A lot of the stuff we do today is advocacy related, trying to do things for the betterment of kids, you know, make sure that their learning environment is safe, it's secure, it's technologically equal.
You know, any child should be able to go anywhere in the United States and have a learning environment that's the same as any other child's opportunity, no matter where they live.
RAZ: Mr. Saylors, why do you think it's taken so long for a man to become the head of the PTA?
Mr. SAYLORS: Well, you mentioned it earlier. This organization started 113 years ago as a moms' organization, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. The moms of this world have built a tremendous organization. Today, dad works, mom works, and in many cases, more than one job each. So the level of need in the school has never diminished, but the talent pool has. And, you know, a lot of men believe that they cannot get involved in the PTA because they don't think they have the time, and that's not necessarily the case.
What I'm going to be asking your listeners to do, whether they're moms, dads or any kind of adult role model in a child's life, is to give me three hours through the entire school year. Folks look at that and go, I can do it. That works within my schedule.
And I'm a firm believer that if an adult, whether they've got a child in school or not, comes to the school, volunteers and sees the good that they do, they'll come back for more.
RAZ: Chuck Saylors is the new president of the PTA and the first male president in its 113-year history. He spoke with us from the PTA National Convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Mr. Saylors, best of luck to you.
Mr. SAYLORS: Thank you very much.
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