The abbreviation PTO stands for parent-teacher organization. In essence, a school PTO is a formal association of teachers, school staff, and parents. These types of parent-teacher organizations tend to provide similar support to the school and students as a typical affiliated PTA would. However, all PTO school associations are independent in their core values, priorities, and regulations, much like a charter school is. This is because the main guiding principle behind the development of PTOs is that every educational institution is tremendously unique and deserves to have their own individual goals and needs.
A PTO retains its independence because it is not affiliated with the National Parent Teacher Association (also called the National PTA) or any other educational support organization. While PTOs and the National PTA both champion parent participation, the official PTAs take a much more active role in enacting training and fundraising programs. In comparison, parent-teacher organizations only support one local school. By their nature, they do not pay any membership dues or pledge allegiance to any national umbrella association. This means that PTOs can utilize 100 percent of the funds that they raise for the students and school that they support.
PTOs keep their priorities straight without a national parent organization by establishing overall goals and maintaining a realistic mission statement. As a result of their nature, parent-teacher organizations are strong supporters of letting each school make their own personalized choices. In essence, PTOs believe that each school knows its own problems best and should be allowed to find out their own unique solutions.