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Friday, September 19, 2008

Your tax dollars at work, cont'd

Nothing gets my blood pressure up quicker than an expensive piece of government propaganda in our mailbox. Yesterday it was this brag piece from the Portland School Board:

The mailer measures something like 9½ by 27 inches, folded into thirds. Full color, two-sided, glossy, card stock. Professional portraits and high-end graphics, fancy graphs and tables -- pardon me for being a grouchy old coot, but how the heck much did this thing cost? One of the banner headlines in it reads "Spending Where It Counts: In the Classroom." The document itself speaks to the contrary.

I support our public schools, but Super Carole, do us all a favor -- next time send us a small black-and-white postcard with a link to a website. Go with cheapo tables. Skip the photographers and the graphic designers.

Take the savings and hire a teacher.

Comments (20)

Ha ha - I thought the same thing too. I also liked the propaganda that painted more than half the budget chart classifying teachers pay and schoolbooks in the same category.
Uh huh.

Straight from mailbox to recycle bin.

According to the fine print note inside, it "...cost 22 cents per copy to print and distribute." They go on to "...gratefully acknowledge the support of the generous sponsors who made this report possible." I don't see a list of sponsors so I'm assuming they are thanking the generosity of the Portland taxpayers. As if we had a choice.

"...cost 22 cents per copy to print and distribute."

But how much to write it? To take the photos? To produce the graphs? To design the layout? How much for postage?

Take the savings and hire a teacher.


The sad thing is that the info could probably be distilled down to three sentences on a postcard.

Just speculating here, but could be that the costs were paid for by the Portland Public Schools Foundation, a non-profit organization that raises contributions from foundations and other private funders. Not to say that it's the best way for them to be spending money, but it would (in my opinion) be better for the foundation to spend it than for the district itself.

But how much to write it? To take the photos? To produce the graphs? To design the layout? How much for postage?

I think "print" is a broad category that means all costs up to the point that it was printed, not just the actual printing of the piece.

Gee, I guess we need to privatize and deregulate Portland Public Schools, then. I hear that the former directors of Bear Stearns and AIG are looking for jobs.

22 cents to print and distribute that? No way.

But that's probably not the biggest lie in the thing.

Fair questions on our schools performance report. I just wanted to let you know that the graphics, photography, tables and text were entirely produced in-house by the same PPS staff who also write and design parent alerts, school brochures, flyers, the monthly e-newsletter and other school publications for the district's 85 schools. (OK, full disclosure, we did use three photos of PPS students we purchased from a local photographer).

Since 84% of families in PPS neighborhoods send their kids to PPS schools, and taxpayers fund that education, we get lots of questions about what kind of results we're getting. We thought this would be a good way to share that information -- and to be honest, we didn't think it had to look bland, just because it's from your schools.

Why does there need to be any communication? Can't the parents just tell by talking to their kids if they are learning anything or not? That method seems to work at our house just fine.

Good lord that design is beautiful however.

I just gotta say that.

I'd really rather spend my .22 on getting some clear and consistent communication from my kid's teacher about the homework assignments. Whatever happened to the computerized homework assignment web site? There's no excuse for this kind of mailing in my opinion.

And even if each piece cost "only" 22 cents, how many did they mail out?

It's pretty. But why does PPS need an in-house design team? This is bureaucracy in action. We pay our schools to teach our children, yet they add layer upon layer of "adminstrative" staff.

We get cute brochures, and uneducated children. Oh, and guess what? They need more of your money.

You want it all, don't you? You want schools that can provide for children's educational, physical, psychological, sociological, nutritional, and medical needs, but you don't want provide enough funds to hire the professionals or enough teachers to do it. You want schools to spend all their time teaching, and also spend all their time educating the parents.

Let's face it, lots of parents suck. They don't take an interest in their children's education (for a variety of reasons). And, now, you blame the school when they have to use slick advertising to break through to the parents who are too enthralled in their televisions.

And when a PPS person comes on here to explain, the first thing that happens is that the words of in-house personnel are twisted into an in-house design team. Education is about communicating information; its not surprising that schools have a number of professionals who can effectively communicate information (in fact, that's a core competency).

Actually, Chris, I want schools that can provide for childrens' educational needs. I'll take care of the rest, if that's okay. I really don't want them involved in my child's medical, nutitional, or other issues.

As it happens, our schools don't seem to be doing a particularly good job in regard to education. That's why colleges are increasingly requiring remedial courses for incoming students.

You want it all, don't you? You want schools that can provide for children's educational, physical, psychological, sociological, nutritional, and medical needs, but you don't want provide enough funds to hire the professionals or enough teachers to do it.

Who does? I would venture to guess most people side with gnus on that one and just want their children to learn. While parent involvement is very, very important, the kids spend as much time with their teacher as their parents. They should still be able to teach them better than they're doing now. Blaming the parents for everything doesn't make the poor teaching performance go away.

When I was a student teachers assisted with psychological and sociological health. Nutritional care isn't very difficult, one person can make the menu for the whole district. Aside from what can be taken care of by one school nurse in each school, schools shouldn't be taking care of medical needs. If schools stopped spending money on all these 'extras' we could afford to hire more quality teachers, pay them more, and reduce class sizes.

I have trouble understanding this few things, and maybe you guys can help me out with this as you're vehemently opposed to school vouchers:

1. What's more important, a quality education or who's providing it?

2. Why can a private school provide an education for a student that is twice or three times as good, at less then half the cost of a public school? ($10k/student/year vs $5k/student/year)

3. We're all guaranteed an education, which I believe in 100%. Don't you feel like our public schools are failing to provide that? We've been trying for years and years to fix it from the inside very small results, yet people persist to try the same thing. Money is NOT going to fix this problem, the schools are very well funded as it is. The only way we're going to fix this problem (and according to empirical data, it works very well) is by fostering competition in the education field. Why do you think our university system works so well? Because there is TONS of competition, even in our public universities. We need to apply that to our K-12 schools. Liberals always call us conservatives racist and such, yet they feel it's OK to force a child to go to a failing school because their in it's district. Because of the parents income, you will never be able to make a Jefferson perform like a Lincoln, so what we need to do is give the low income kids the choice to attend upper end schools (and not by some discriminatory quota system based on race, income, etc.)

We owe it to the kids to give them the best possible education, be it public or private. People need to focus on that and forget the politics of the whole thing. The bottom line everyone should be looking at is results.

I attended Salem PS's from 75-87. Everything was great. Who screwed up our schools? Does anyone have an answer. These schools are a disaster.

Joey I think you misunderstand what is trying to be said. The problem isn't that schools are trying to do too much. The problem is to truly educate there have to be alot of supports in place. Children cant learn on empty stomachs. Children cant learn when they are sick. Dysfunctional families are easy scape goats, but there is some truth that a bad family situation is distracting and makes it hard for a child to learn in or out of the classroom.

As far as private versus public let me just say this. I have been to both. I spent my first 6 years of schooling in a private school that had a reputation for being very good. That was an undeserved reputation. I then went to an overcrowded set of public schools until I graduated from high school. You really want to make it competition? Then in my personal experience we all loose. The most successful person I grew up with went to public school all the way through HS, went to a private college and now has a damned good job. Want to know the secret? One he was wicked smart, and two his parents were always there, making sure he was involved and engaged.

I am also curious where you got those numbers. They both seem low to me.

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