The Wackness in Education

I love independent films. I went to one last night called “The Wackness” about a drug dealer kid in NYC in 1994, who falls in love for the first time and finds himself and whatnot.

My favorite scene was when he and love interest are having a deep talk and she says, “You know what’s wrong with you? I always see the dope-ness in life and you always see the wackness.”


1994-lingo aside, it was an interesting way to describe pessimism and optimism. Readers who have been with me a while know that I like to focus on the positive and even try to be optimistic when my car is stolen, but not burned. But there are certainly times when enough “wackness” in the bureaucracy of public schools gets to you. This is one of those times, in which one must vent a little. May I present to you:

An Open Letter to “The System”

Dear Public Education System,

I am writing to express my dissatisfaction with your bureaucratic ways. I am not working in your System this summer, and yet you still plague me. As an aside, are you, “The System,” a close relative of “The Man?” Do you meet on a bi-annual basis and discuss ways to keep people down? Is there a secret password to get into this meeting, or is there some sort of top-secret retinal scan situation?

I am writing because I have been receiving endless letters highlighting your dysfunction all summer and with each one, I think, “Aha! That’s where the money for public education goes!”

First, I have been receiving letters from a school district I haven’t worked for in several years, threatening to suspend me if I don’t get my “I’m free of Tuberculosis” paperwork in. You have threatened on 3 occasions to put these letters “in my file” and suspend me. You do that, System. You suspend me from that job I left years ago. By the way, my new district only lost my TB paperwork once. Take that!

Second, I haven’t been paid for my work from April and it is now almost August. Thankfully, as a civil servant, my paycheck from February more than covers living in the Bay Area for 5 months (cough cough). Each day, I hope for that check, and today, I was so excited to see a letter with your name on it in my mailbox! Alas, it was not my wages, but rather a giant, important packet about the System’s position on Northern Ireland. I promptly returned my signature that I will indeed abide by the MacBride Principles in the event that I do business with Northern Ireland. You know, for all those cross-continent business dealings I do working in the local public school.

Third, my sick days are still inaccurate from a year ago. I really don’t know how I can take .047 sick days anyway. Could you please move the decimal point sometime this millennium? Please refer to the 47589475983473 prior communications on fixing this simple error that could ruin my life when I want to take maternity leave someday. Oh! And by the way, thanks for considering motherhood an illness.

Lastly, I want to thank you. I don’t want to be a Negative Nancy all the time, now do I? I want to thank you, The System, for improving my angry letter writing skills (the final draft of this letter will have some angry looking font, like maybe Ariel Bold Italic). I also want to thank you for the Bureaucratic OCD I have developed in documenting everything in triplicate. One thing You have taught me is that if it isn’t in writing, it didn’t happen. And finally, thanks so much for giving me a way to fill my summer vacation hours!

Yours Truly,

Rebecca

P.S. Someone once said to me that sarcasm is rooted in anger. What? Me? Sarcastic? Never. I love everything about public education.

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Comments on The Wackness in Education

  1. P.S. Any non-educators have a take on Wackness? Is it a public school system thing or does this type of bureaucratic nonsense happen in all fields?

    Discuss.

  2. Rebecca, persuade a relative or good friend to run for the school board. Wackness seems to just…disappear. 😀

    (See my other blog at http://hsdboardmember.wordpress.com.)

  3. Hugh,

    Good plan! Maybe then we wouldn’t have to threaten to strike every year to get a basic cost of living increase! What a beautiful world it would be…

    RB

  4. “Maybe then we wouldn’t have to threaten to strike every year to get a basic cost of living increase!”

    Here’s a little irony for you…boards of ed will generally give whatever they can to stay competitive with neighboring districts, but employees think admin wants to hoard the money, or put it all in the classroom. What a balancing act it is.

    But your thesis is right on…wackness prevails in bureacracies. Except for the Hillsboro School District. 😉

  5. Rebecca, How come you have Mimi’s blog listed twice in your blogroll? 🙂

  6. Because I love her SO much! 😉 Plus I hadn’t noticed. You school board members don’t miss a beat!

  7. “Because I love her SO much! 😉 Plus I hadn’t noticed. You school board members don’t miss a beat!”

    Great answer! I love Mimi too.

    And thank you for the link. This forthcoming school year is gonna be exciting.

    BTW, I was a middle school social studies teacher, and I ran for the board during the Spring of my retirement year, 2003. Just had to keep my oar in the water. (Got re-elected in 2007 for another four years.)

    Made some folks nervous, but it’s turned out well. 🙂

  8. Jim Gerl says:

    Hi,
    I wanted to make you and your readers aware of my special eductasion law blog.

    You can find it at :
    http://specialeducationlawblog.blogspot.com/

    Thanks, Jim

  9. Jim,

    Thanks for the resource!

  10. BTW, I as of today, I am now officially on “unpaid administrative leave” from the job I don’t have. Just got the letter, cc’d to one million people and my union I am no longer am a part of. Oh no!

    What a waste of energy and paper.

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