As the nation celebrates PTA Week, it is worth noting that the punch-and-cookies stereotype has never been an accurate way to describe the diverse and worthwhile activities of this splendid volunteer organization.

The Parent-Teachers Association was originally organized in 1897 as the Congress of Mothers, devoted to rescuing children from sweat shops, ending abuse of children and upgrading their education and health care.Today it remains an effective advocacy group for children who are voiceless and yet remain on the receiving end of adult action when such action is not always desirable.

Utah's PTA comprises grassroots organizations in virtually every school in the state, with upwards of 150,000 members working to upgrade the health, safety and welfare needs of Utah's children. Members are also keenly interested in upgrading the arts in the schools for the educational benefit of all children.

Numerous studies have demonstrated that parents who are deeply involved in the education of their own children make a positive difference.

The members of the Utah PTA work hard to increase the positive interaction between parent and child. Toward that end they expend a great deal of time in lobbying efforts every day at the State Legislature.

Because they are not representing a vested interest - but only the genuine needs of children - they are probably the most respected group of lobbyists in the state.

The greatest interest of the PTA is to better train parents so that they can act as more effective voices for their own children.

To their credit, promoting themselves appears to be the only thing the PTA does poorly. Not only are they unpaid for what they do, they never take bows for their accomplishments.

Since President Bush has made an effort to recognize PTA accomplishments with National PTA Week, it behooves all Utahns to express similar gratitude to the dedicated volunteers who represent our interests and those of our children with such humanity and sensitivity.