Today we all found out.
The background: The children arrive next Wednesday. Rooms need to be set up, bulletin boards done, welcome letters written, PR folders read, lesson plans created – the treadmill is beginning to rock n’ roll.
We’d spent the morning gathered together reviewing test scores and welcoming the new teachers and such like. And while we might begrudge the time we certainly understand the reason why we were gathered together.
At 1pm we are ordered all to present ourselves, along with half the employees (2,300 other souls), for a “Convocation”. Attendance is mandatory for everyone from the custodians to the principals.
A bit more background: My school is at the far east end of the district, the “Convocation” is being held at a coliseum at the far west end of the district. Between Point A and Point B is 15 miles of seriously under construction interstate that is normally bumper to bumper, no matter what the time of day. It’s a 45 minute commute and gasoline is currently hovering at $3 a gallon.
We arrive. A quick glance at the audience (and the empty seats) shows that the word “mandatory” has many different meanings to many different people.
One of the high school orchestras serenades us. We listen to a rather rambling speech about all the important people who have graduated from our district and the important people whose children attend them now. For some reason the name of one of our alumni, who was recently in the news is not mentioned. Granted, he was killed in a home invasion and granted he was doing the invading but it was newsworthy.
An elementary school chorus sings a couple of numbers. The 2006 Valedictorian rehashes his speech. I didn’t care for this sort of thing when my own children were involved, never mind children I don’t know. We listen to another rambling speech. The person to the right of me is sleeping, as is the person 2 seats over. Several people are text messaging, others are whispering. I play solitaire on my PDA. The person to the left of me is jealous; he wishes he had a PDA too. The speech rambles on. And on. And on.
We all then get to watch a video. The powers that be seem to have forgotten that the district has the technology to broadcast live video over the internet and has their own in house TV channel. The noise wakes my neighbor. We create a TAKS math problem:
2,300 hundred district employees spend 45 minutes en route, plus 2 hours sitting through and 45 minutes returning from a “Convocation”. The employees are paid approximately $25 an hour. How much did this event cost?
- To much, teachers are overpaid and get the summer off
- Not enough, teachers are underpaid
- Priceless – how can one put a price on the joy of bonding with one’s colleagues?
The correct answer? Well, that would depend on the point of view of the person answering the question! What do you think it is?