Over the years, I’ve learned that if a bad idea exists
somewhere, eventually, it’ll show up at your doorstep. This is especially true
in education where “six-step” theories or acronym-based rubrics often are
applied because the superintendent went to a conference and it was the keynote
speaker’s pet project.
Somewhere during the summer (which is when most bad
educational ideas occur, because administrators have too much time on their
hands and teachers are less likely to pay attention to work), Mom got an email
from the district. In an attempt to stem the tide of electricity costs, all
personal electronics were being banned from district buildings. This included
microwaves, mini-fridges and coffee pots.
The email listed how much each item tends to cost the district
and said that by removing all these items, they could save upwards of $30,000
These figures were based on the estimates of the energy efficiency
expert that the district hired. (It is unknown what the district shelled out
for the efficiency expert.)
Mom, of course, was incensed and figured this was some sort
of locally stupid idea. She figured this was one more chance for her
superintendent (a micromanaging idiot) to exert additional control over her and
I did a bit of digging and found that, no, dumb-ass
administrators in other areas had already engaged in this behavior. The one
twist, however, has been that either a)they offered to let the people pay for
the “privilege” of having the item or b)have abandon the idea because they
couldn’t enforce it. In the case of Mom’s district, the teachers union is a
pretty strong body, so I’m wondering how long this thing would last.
However, that’s beside the point for Mom. She spends from
about 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. locked into a room. While the hours aren’t all that
different from other jobs, the surroundings are. If I get up and leave my
classroom for a minute, no one has stolen my keys, punched someone else or
committed a C-felony.
She can’t take a short break like dozens of other people
in dozens of other occupations. Liquid refreshment, be it water or coffee, is a
necessity in a building that makes the Gobi Desert look humid by comparison. I
swear, I stood in there for two hours once and I could hear my skin cracking.
The place where she will be required to put her lunch to keep it cold now
probably hasn’t been cleaned since the Carter administration. It likely has
stuff in the back that evolved some significant life skills and is plotting to attack the olives at dawn. Imagine 50
educators putting their lunches into a standard fridge that no one cleans.
It’ll be like Thunderdome: two lunches enter, one lunch leaves.
I’m not writing this as a pity party for my mother. God
alone knows, she’s way too tough to want a “woe is she” kind of thing to happen
on her behalf. However, it pisses me off that this is just one more decision in
a long line of decisions that does little good and simply pains educators in a stupid, stupid fashion.
We entrust teachers with one of our most precious
possessions: the next generation that will be required to take over and improve
the world some day. Instead of understanding that, we pay them a tiny
wage, we force them tobuy their own supplies, we subject them to
abusive situations and essentially make themburn to a crisp. It is too much to
ask that they be allowed minor creature comforts?
If we continue to treat teachers like second-rate hacks,
that’s exactly how they’ll behave. If you wonder why the best and brightest go
to Wall Street instead of PS 231, here’s a solid reason in a nutshell: we treat
them like the children they teach.
For her part, Mom wrote a letter explaining that she was
paying $165 to keep her coffee pot and her fridge. If they cashed the check,
she considered it a contract. While she shouldn’t have to do this, I think it’s
going to be interesting to see what comes of it.