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THERE THEY GO AGAIN

2/7/01

    Yet again, I’m drawn to the subject of administrative bloat and the disproportionate amount of money districts spend on bureaucrats who often contribute little and sometimes nothing to the education of young people. For teaching no classes, for grading no papers, for never listening sympathetically to the problems of today’s youth and guiding their behavior, they receive higher salaries than the people who engage students daily. In the bizarre world of education, the further removed you are from children the more prestige you have and the more money your make. You are also often recognized as knowing more about kids too, the worth of your opinion often directly proportional to your rank and salary. It’s all summed up in Rosenfeld’s first law of education which states: The longer one works in education the less sense the system makes.

    Here’s the latest instance to confirm the law of diminishing intelligibility. In the Plainview-Old Bethpage district, ten thousand dollars ($10,000) was budgeted this year for consultants/speakers for teacher staff development, eighteen hours of work that teachers do after they have taught their regular work day. These sessions are most often conducted in uncomfortable classrooms with the district providing not so much as a cup of coffee let alone decent refreshments. By the time one of these sessions is finished, a teacher has worked nine hours and must first go home to deal with family obligations after which the next day’s lessons must be prepared.

    How different things are for the administrators of our district (and most others, I suspect). Last month they had staff development. No squashing into undersized student desks in an often cold school building for them. All Plainview-Old Bethpage administrators were taken on retreat to the Harrison Conference Center in Glen Cove at a cost of three hundred and twenty-five ($325) per person. There they had dinner, comfortable meeting rooms, overnight accommodations, breakfast, lunch and other refreshments. The cost of this one jaunt was more than the budgeted amount for speakers and consultants to work with the district’s four hundred and fifty-eight (458) teachers.

    Why on earth would a district spend the taxpayer’s money on such abject nonsense. Why can’t administrators meet in the school district during the school day? It’s not as though they have students to teach. It’s simply an outrage, and but the latest example of the need to bring the administrative costs of the district under control. Even more outrageous was learning that this "event" took place on the very day that teachers received a memo informing them that there was no more money in this year’s budget for them to attend conferences.

    Three seats on our Board of Education will be filled in an election to be held in May. The citizens of this community, many of whom are teachers, must decide if they want their money spent to reduce class size, mentor the many new teachers in our schools, have up-to-date books, equipment and supplies or have a swollen bureaucracy that not only soaks up precious dollars but serves to stifle the creativity and ingenuity of the teaching staff.

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