A former student emailed me tonight and asked how things are going at school. I told him that things are going fairly smoothly--and then it hit me. I haven't been writing any lengthy posts about my opinions lately; I've mostly been providing links and a little bit of commentary. But you know what? There is something that's really ticking me off at school, and I'm going to tell you about it.
Last week, my computer died. It wouldn't even boot up. Fortunately, though, we have a volunteer at school who is a techno-god. He determined that the boot sector of my hard drive was shot, so he slaved that hard drive (with all my data) into another computer as a second hard drive. He also made it so that I can log into our district network without having to jump through some stupid hoops, and also allowed me to access the information on my hard drive without being logged into the district network (something I couldn't do before). All of this sounds great, right?
Well, it is. But it creates problems.
See, this computer I'm now using is kind of a "loaner" computer. That should be OK because I'm supposed to get a new computer soon, and I know that the new computers are already at the district office being checked out and having software installed.
But this loaner computer doesn't have the right kind of name and internal serial number to identify it on the network as an "official" teacher computer. As a result, I still have access to district email and to my teacher web page but cannot access the internet at all. I called the district's Tech Services folks today, and they told me that I must have an official teacher computer in order to get to the internet. But I can't get an official teacher computer because there are no others available--except for the brand new ones, one of which I'm supposed to receive anyway, being checked out and having software installed at Tech Services.
You may wonder, why do I need to get to the internet? Well, I'm piloting a new algebra textbook, one our district may very well purchase next year. One of its selling points is its technology component, some of which is available online. As of now, I cannot access any of these publisher materials online--and we have to make a decision (to adopt or not to adopt) by January, which means I need access at school.
Oh, and another part of the technology component of this textbook adoption is the vast quantity of materials available on DVD-ROM. Did I mention that neither my former computer nor my loaner computer has a DVD drive?
But that new computer sitting in the district office sure does! So, I should just get one of those sent to me right away, right? After all, this textbook adoption is serious business, and I'm supposed to get one of those computers anyway. It all makes sense.
So I play squeaky wheel to my vice principal, who plays squeaky wheel to someone at the district. At the same time I email our district math coordinator, who's also running the math textbook adoption program, and ask her to apply some pressure as well to get me one of those computers. You know what her response was? That it's really not her job! Jeez, it's not like I'm asking for a blood transfusion or something, I'm asking her to make a phone call--or to get her boss, the one with the real pull, to make a phone call so that I can get one--ONE!--of those hundreds of computers, one I'm supposed to get anyway, one that's already at the district office, sent to me now so that I can properly evaluate this textbook (in addition to having access to all the web sites I draw from on any given day).
Honestly, is there no one that can make this happen? Is everyone dulled to sleep by the inertia of the bureaucracy?
Update, 11/8/07: Apparently, there is someone who can make this happen. My vice principal played squeaky wheel for me but to no avail. After I told him the above story about the district math coordinator, he took it upon himself to get me an operational computer. Yesterday he made some phone calls, and today he went to the district office, picked up a computer, and hand-delivered it to me. Now that is going above and beyond the call of duty, and getting something done.
I will be delivering a a package of Ferrero Rocher to him tomorrow.