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Pasco County School District's textbook saga is a lesson on leaders

A satirical glossary of terms to be included in the Pasco School District's new social studies textbooks for elementary schools:

Committee — Group of educators culled together to make recommendation on spending $850,000 for textbooks.

Staff — Group of high-level administrators that joins elected superintendent to override committee's recommendation.

Elected superintendent — The person responsible.

School Board — Five elected public officials frequently left to look at person responsible and ask: What gives?

Smell test — Examination that should be applied whenever an unpleasant aroma surrounds the expenditure of public money, even if no odor source can be pinpointed. Test should be applied when an assistant superintendent (staff) is in a personal relationship with a textbook company representative who also is a former district employee.

Example: "This doesn't pass the smell test even if that guy leaves the room because his girlfriend stands to benefit from this decision.''

Core curriculum — Red herring known to overpower smell test.

Technology capabilities See above. Depending on whom and when asked, this term refers either to insufficient equipment at some individual schools to support the committee's preferred textbook materials or to plentiful equipment that is sufficient.

Publishers — Private-sector companies seeking to sell $850,000 worth of textbooks to school district; they are working under faulty assumption that the district will follow its policies and procedures.

Policies/Procedures — Rules to be discarded when convenient. Akin to the pirate code as delineated by Captain Barbosa in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. "More what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules."

Flip — Elected superintendent withdrawing her recommendation to override committee after public objections. Instead, a meeting with the committee is scheduled.

Secret ballot Method the elected superintendent says she will tell committee members to use to select textbooks after they hear her reason for rejecting their recommendation. Also, the way in which the public selects the superintendent.

CYA — Survey of schools' technology capabilities after superintendent says the capabilities are insufficient to handle the product initially recommended by the committee.

Flop — Elected superintendent's cancellation of the committee's reconsideration and announcement she will forward original recommendation to school board. This comes in a letter acknowledging new information that contradicted previous findings about insufficient technology. Letter also states, "it has been determined that we need to adhere to our current procedures manual and our past practice in selecting materials."

Duh Customary reaction to elected superintendent's decision to follow policies/procedures after twice diverting from said practices.

Political Filter — Device elected superintendent finally used to view the aforementioned terms in the glossary. Largely unnecessary if smell test is used early in process.

Political Expedience — Logical conclusion after looking through political filter. Also, explanation for flop.

Election — Once-every-four-year chance for public to select school superintendent. Also, explanation for political expedience.

FADSS Florida Association of District School Superintendents, a group providing, among other things, management reviews of individual districts.

FADSS Study — Year-old report, largely ignored by non-teaching public, that portrayed elected superintendent as meddling, micro-manager of district that devalued employee input and stifled creativity.

Textbook Selection — Personification of FADSS Study.

Collar of Shame — Management accoutrement to be distributed at superintendent's next staff meeting.

Pasco County School District's textbook saga is a lesson on leaders 05/12/12 [Last modified: Saturday, May 12, 2012 12:47pm]
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