Monday, August 4, 2008

The $64,000 Question

What would you do if you were the principal of a high school that had been rated as "academically unacceptable" for the 2007 school year?

One principal in Fort Worth decided to schedule an academic planning retreat for the staff. At the famous--and expensive--Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center. To the tune of $64,000 of federal education grant money.

Not to worry, though:

South Hills’ Principal Nancy Weisskopf said her campus followed grant guidelines in planning the retreat. She said the retreat will help build a strong academic program at the school, which the state rated "academically unacceptable" in 2007.

The school has also struggled to meet No Child Left Behind standards.

"Although Gaylord conjures up some feelings for some, when you look at it from a cost perspective, we are right within our guidelines," Weisskopf said.

Weisskopf said she hopes the community sees that the intention is to create a setting in which South Hills teachers can dig into solutions.

"I hope they understand that for schools to be successful, they need the time to plan," she said. "The whole point of this is to improve."

Isn't it a relief to know that federal guidelines were followed? I mean, we wouldn't want anyone spending money foolishly, now would we?

Let's face it: the problems with public education are legion, and they've proved resistant to such efforts as spending money carefully, spending money wildly, and spending money rampantly. So now we're thinking out of the box, insisting that educators spend money extravagantly and tangentially, in the hopes that finally money will be able in some miraculous way to solve the woes of institutional public schooling.

Of course, doing all these things ignores the fact that schools are a reflection of our communities, and as our communities become increasingly violent, sexualized, isolated, ill-mannered, unappreciative of education except in the most utilitarian way, and steeped in the dysfunctional nuclear breakdown of the nuclear family, it's hard to imagine that a little more money at a luxury resort will have any effect at all.

Why do educators continue to think that cash will solve what has become a societal problem? I think that's the $64,000 question.


Oremus said...

That is so SICKENING! Especially when we are struggling, personally, to make ends meet and having to decide which books/and courses we will not get to buy this year!

MommaLlama said...

You know, I think I would like to apply for a grant for my own teacher retreat (the TEA would say that my 'school' doesn't meet their standards, right?!)... maybe a group of us could go to the Gaylord for a "WORKING RETREAT" at taxpayers expense... what a swell deal that would be!

Clayton R said...

I am apalled by Nancy Weiskopf's actions. I am a Ph.D. candidate in economics with a focus on educational issues and I cam across this blog while performing research on abuses in the educational system. Ms. Weiskopf should be ashamed of herself. She is doing a disservice to her students, to the taxpayers, and to our future. But hey, she got to have a nice weekend at a fancy resort.
In any event, I would bet that at least one law was broken by this little junket and I intend to inform my friend who has helped me with my dissertation...oh...he happens to be an assistant united states attorney. I'm sure the DOJ will enjoy learning of this abuse of federal funds.