What’s the difference between PTO and PTA?

WHat's the different between PTO and PTA | ptoanswers.com
What's the difference between PTA and PTO?

The alphabet soup of school parent volunteer groups and their meanings can be pretty confusing.

This post will clear up any and all confusion you might have.

What’s a PTA?

PTA is the “brand name” for PTOs (think “Kleenex” or “Puffs”) and local units feed up into a national group through state PTAs and are organized into districts.  

In addition to local, state and federal laws and regulations, PTAs have a set of guidelines to follow set forth by the National PTA.

PTAs are required to collect membership dues. And they have certain positions that must be filled.

What’s a PTO?

PTO is the umbrella name for all school parent groups (think “facial tissues”) and they’re independent/stand alone organizations that do not feed up into a larger organization.

PTOs do not have any guidelines to follow outside of any local, state or federal laws.

PTOs are not required to charge membership dues and there’s no set offices that must be filled each year.

My group is called something else…

Some PTOs chose to have an entirely different name altogether.

For example,
Home School Association (HSA)
Parent Association (PA)
Parent + Child (P+C)
Parent Council (PC)
Parent Child Council (PCC)
Parent Advisory Committee (PAC)
Parent Faculty Association or Parent and Family Association (PFA)
Parent Faculty Club (PFC)
Parent Group (PG)
Partners In Education or Parents for Inclusive Education (PIE)
Parents In Partnership or Partners in Parenting (PIP)
Parent-Initiated Treatment (PIT)
Parent(s) Organization (PO)
Parent Student Organization (PSO)
Parent Support Partner (PSP)
Parent Teacher Advisory Council (PTAC)
Parent Teacher Council (PTC)
Parent-Teacher-Counselor Organization or Parent Teachers and Community Members Organization (PTCO)
Parent Focused Treatment (PFT)
Parent Teacher League (PTL)
Parent Teacher Fellowship (PTF)
Parent Teacher Group (PTG)
Parent Teacher Partnership (PTP)
Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)
Parent Teacher Student Council (PTSC)
Parent Teacher Student Organization (PTSO)
Parent Teacher Teams (PTT)
Parent-Teacher Union (PTU)
Parent Volunteer Organization (PVO)
Student Council Association (SCA)
School Community Organization (SCO)
School Home Parnership (SHP)

No matter the exact letters or name, they all fall under the larger PTO umbrella!

Summing it all up

All PTAs are PTOs.
But not all PTOs are PTAs.
If your group name isn’t PTA and you’re a school parent volunteer organization, you’re a PTO.

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