Friday, October 17, 2008

The Dividing Question

Some folks want to believe. They need to believe. This is especially true when the issue involves their local public school. Some folks will defend any action by their school system and its employees. These folks will bend and contort all logic to make wrong right. Who are they? Let me ask a question that will divide those above from those willing to ask questions, point fingers, etc. Here we go ...

If a former employee continued to use his district cell phone for weeks after retiring (making calls to Bermuda, a party supply company, a local spa, etc.), would you consider that wrong?

Yes ___

No ___

A yes puts you in the latter category. However, I bet there is a significant number of residents who will say no -- of course, they will say no to any similar question. They have to say no in order to satisfy some need, a need which I cannot understand. But there it is.

note: The above situation is not hypothetical -- it's true. Compare your response to the question above to how you responded to Jim Ward and his use of a taxpayer-funded cell phone.


Anonymous said...

In a sort of a parallel, many social scientists say that to change a person's attitudes and beliefs they must change that person's behaviors. That is the opposite of what is usually assumed. Most people believe attitudes and values result in behaviors that align with those values. Instead, behaviors result in attitudes and beliefs. This accounts for the emphasis on "service projects" and the like in government schools and in business. Change agents and social scientists are trying to change people's beliefs by influencing their behaviors. When people do things that contradict their beliefs, cognitive dissonance results and they must resolve that situation so they revise their beliefs to align with their behaviors. Another way to look at it is, people's consciences make them aware of their sins. But they keep sinning and that makes them uncomfortable so they tell themselves that what they have done is not wrong and thus their attitudes and beliefs change to match their behaviors. They won't change their behaviors so they change their opinions about their behaviors.

Steven K. said...

I really enjoy your blog. I find myself agreeing with a lot of your posts and like how you challenge the district.

But back to this post, what if I answered "yes" to your question but I still think the district is doing a great job for us. I think it is ok to question this mobile phone issue, but not get bent out of shape. It is just a cell phone. Tell him it isn't right and request he pay for the service/calls. End of story, not a big deal. You know, I kind of take everything into perspective and don't let the few bad apples or choices convince me to negate the thousand of correct choices the district and my childen's teachers make on a daily basis. I truly believe they have my children's best interest in mind. I have seen them time and again stay late to help my kids with projects, make phone calls to tell me good and bad things, and go that extra mile to make a lesson memorable to my children. I love it when they come home and tell me how much they enjoyed "learning" something.

Could it be done cheaper? Yes. Could it be done better? Yes.
Am I dissatisfied with their education? No. They get good grades and enjoy school.

So, at the end of the day, I, like most of the district, want them to continue doing it well and urge them to do it efficiently.

But, again, back to your post. Way to go, you really know how to pick out the bad stuff. You must be so proud.

So, now let me ask you a question that will divide you into one of two camps. Either the camp of realism or pessimism.

You have constantly posted the "bad" stuff on your blog for years. I have read it, agreed with most of it, and questioned some of it. But now I'm getting tired of the constant negativeness and want you to revive my interest. So, I would love you to post 10 "good" things. Just 10. Can you ACTUALLY say ANYTHING good? Or are you so wired to only attack that even your "good" comments will be sly negative disguises? Like I said, you say and point out a lot of great facts, but can you point out good facts?

And don't give us any crap about not having to. You constantly request the people in the district and its tax payers to step up and confront the district. Don't back down when one of the tax payers challenges you.

Seriously, I don't think you are way out in left field, but I wanted to really challenge you and hope this does. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I think the other question is why everything has to be black and white, yes or no?

For example, did this cost the taxpayers additional money? If so, it would be wrong. Everyone would jump to the conclusion it did but most cell phone packages are paid a month in advance so if the bill for that month had already been paid, it may not have cost the taxpayers a dime.

The other criticism is that cell phones may get used for personal calls. I've never worked for a company that did not pay for my cell phone and did not restrict how I used it as long as my use did not cost it additional money.

This is the kind of penny ante whining that adds up to nothing in the greater scheme of things.

Jim Fedako said...

steven k:

I thought the district's $500,000 PR machine was enough. Hmmm.

note: Taxpayer is one word. Are you even one?

Jim Fedako said...

10:11 --

Hmmm. Just answer no next time. It would have been a lot easier.

Anonymous said...

It's not just the actual expense of the cell's the sense of entitlement of the user that is the problem. Multiply this sense of entitlement across the 1,500 or so employees of the district, along with a treasurer who seemingly believes the focus of her job is to process expenses rather than to control them, and you have potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars spent annually on indulgences argued as necessities; expenses that are not linked to student achievement--directly or indirectly--or better administrative efficiency whatsoever.

Do all district employees have this sense of entitlement? No, of course not. I'm willing to bet that a lot of them, being district taxpayers as well, take exception to the free spending that's going on. But I'll bet that most employees do feel they're entitled, as it's a real easy mindset to fall into. After all, "she got hers...I might as well get mine, too, before it's all gone".

Anonymous said...

Good Thing # 1

Jennifer Smith was elected!

Good Thing #2

Jennifer Smith found close to $1 million dollars in one time expenditures from last fiscal year that were included in this fiscal year too. Thus lowering the budget.

Good Thing # 3

You haven't received your tax bill for 09 yet!

Good Thing # 4

4 people actually spoke out against the lack of board oversite at the last meeting...the media failed to report that.

I'll let Jim come up with more...I'm tired from the kids celebrating the District-wide holiday in support of labor day..I mean COTA (not the transit authority)day!

Anonymous said...

10:00 -
How can you be tired from the kids having the day off..

Oh wait, don't tell me you actually played the part of a parent today! Did you?

You mean spending the day with a few kids was harder than your grown up job? Please, I relish the day when I don't have to go into work and get to spend it playing outside with my kids.

Jim Fedako said...

10:44 --

How can you be tired from the kids having the day off.

That is not what 10:00 said. Read for comprehension. Oops, maybe you can't? Sounds to me like you might be a teacher. Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Why did the teachers have today off, anyway? Was it Che's birthday, or something?

Anonymous said...


I play parent 24/7...that is my full time job and I get paid back by having great kids. I don't have to play make up with them due to the guilt I feel not being home!

Jim...thanks for reading with comprehension! Obviously 10:44 has trouble with intellectual sarcasm!