Thursday, May 22, 2008

More math classes and fewer press releases please

Growing up in Northwest Iowa we always had a nice laugh when we heard the "poor" local farmers complain about crop prices, the weather, etc. while they were driving around down town in their brand new vehicles.

I had a flash back to this childhood memory tonight as I read our local newspaper here in Minnesota. Tucked inside the Local Section was a small story about the Stillwater, Minnesota public school district (today's "poor farmer") which announced it was able to hire a new "Communications Coordinator" (today's "new vehicle") which was a job eliminated earlier due to budget constraints. The article went on to note that this position's annual salary was $70,820.

Personally I would rather see my local school focus on hiring an additional math teacher or perhaps a Chinese language instructor to better prepare students for our global economy if it was able to find an extra $71,000 (plus that excellent benefits package including health insurance, public pension, etc.). No doubt school administrators would defend this hiring by stating -- "we need to develop communication tools (newsletters, website, etc.) to communicate with our students and parents.................." -- but I have to believe a current Stillwater student could easily manage the school's website better than any communications coordinator they hire and a student newspaper could be started in partnership with the local community newspaper. Such a partnership would provide the school with trained students able to produce any required newsletters but more importantly these students would develop tangible job skills needed after graduation from high school. Any money spent in this area would be a better expenditure than adding one more FTE (full time employee) via the Commuications Coordinator job.

There are better uses for this $71,000 at Stillwater Public Schools if the education establishment truly believes in putting "students first" as the Education Minnesota teachers' union TV ads want us to believe.

Then again perhaps I should apply for this Stillwater job (insert laughter here!),


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