Sunday, August 23, 2009

i have no point

I do a lot of work with public school districts. This is the kind of tempest in a teapot stuff that goes on there.

1) The payroll system shorted the pay (by either $2 or $4) for approximately 700 teachers. The union rep insisted that the district do a special payroll to cut $2 or $4 checks for all the teachers. He was convinced the reason the district was just going to wait til next payroll to make it up was so they could keep the float on $2000 for two extra weeks. When the teachers received their checks (inconvenient pieces of paper they had to now take to the bank), most of them said “Why in h*ll didn’t you just wait til next payroll to give me this?”

2) There’s a “graduation” ceremony for kids leaving 6th grade and going to Jr High. Teacher with a mixed 5-6 class proposes bringing the 5th-graders along to observe their 6th grade classmates’ rite-of-passage. Much clamor ensues, including at least one parent in the principal’s office weeping because this (apparently terribly important) life event is going to be “ruined” for her 6th grader. I guess the 5th grade classmates’ presence would irreparably contaminate the sanctity of the moment...Do I even need to ridicule this incredible lack of perspective? I don’t think so, you can do it yourself.

3) Teachers unions typically negotiate for rules that dictate how teachers are laid off in RIF (“Reduction In Force”) situations; usually it’s by seniority in the district (or in your position). When one district proposed eliminating certain programs as unnecessary, teachers had a fit because some teachers would be displaced NOT in accordance with the RIF rules. As if the district existed to keep teachers in jobs rather than to give the children the best education possible for the dollar.

4) A teacher proposed keeping one of her students back a year in reading. The girl’s father successfully lobbied to have her advance anyway and receive tutoring the next year (which was reasonable, since she had an IEP and was entitled to it) but his main point was that the teacher had given his daughter a reading award during the year. “How does one get a reading award, then get held back?” he said. Um, I don’t know, maybe because the teacher was trying to encourage the kid?

5) Principal issues an off-the-cuff opinion that he doesn’t care for teachers using class time to show full-length feature films that the students can rent at home on DVD. Teachers get their backs up and threaten to boycott meetings because he would presume to dictate what goes on in their classrooms, even if it’s arguably in the students’ best interest.

AFAICT, my main point with the above stories is that I have more perspective than other people. Do I win the most pointless and boring blog post award?