Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Does This Just Look Bad, Or Is It Really Bad?

If there was something meaningful and useful to be gained from going to a conference, is there a problem with sending some teachers?

The Chicago Public Schools system is suffering from a $700 million budget shortfall. So why did some educators travel to Las Vegas just days after a travel restriction was ordered?

CBS 2′s Dave Savini and the Better Government Association investigated questionable spending of school tax dollars and how children are impacted.

Former Scammon Elementary School teacher Laura Hoffman is angry that 14 of her Chicago Public School co-workers went on an all-expense paid trip to a Las Vegas resort and spa for a conference last year.

“That’s what happened. Does it make sense? No,” Hoffman said. “I think parents need to be aware what is happening.”

Hoffman quit her job at Scammon Elementary last year and says school officials should not have spent the $15,000 on the conference in Las Vegas while city schools are hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

I'm willing to have my mind changed here, but I don't see anything wrong with attending a conference in Las Vegas if--and it's a big if--there was something meaningful and useful to be gained by having the teachers attend.

Would it have been better somehow if the conference had been held in Modesto, CA rather than Las Vegas?


Rhymes With Right said...

Why did they travel just days after the restrictions were put in place? because the conference had already been paid for, as had the hotel rooms and non-refundable plane tickets.

Anonymous said...

What Rhymes with Right said.

Failing to attend at that point wouldn't have saved any money.

And why in Las Vegas? Probably because that's where the conference was, like Darren said ... and people setting up conferences tend to favor locations like Las Vegas over locations like Modesto.

The only *REAL* question should be, "Did attending the conference at all make any sense?" But this is a much subtler question and won't help sell newspapers.

Not that I'm cynical...

Of course, the Chicago Public School (is that the name of the district?) system *IS* probably poorly run. But this article lead doesn't offer any evidence to that effect.

-Mark Roulo

Scott McCall said...

Well? any statistics showing that the teachers actually put new information to use? Any higher test scores? Any higher satisfactory rates? Anything change?

If so, then ya it's worth it. If not, then there's a possibility that it was improper spending. (I say possibly because there's always the chance that it may take more than a year for results to be shown.)

MikeAT said...

Why did they travel just days after the restrictions were put in place? because the conference had already been paid for, as had the hotel rooms and non-refundable plane tickets.

Having done a lot of official travel my experience is the hotel can be cancelled within 24 hours without penalty and the tickets are normally paid at a higher rate so they can be cancelled. The fee may not have been refundable but that is probably the smallest of the cost.

More to the point when you have a 700 million dollar shortfall long before the conference it should have never been approved in the first place.

IMHO, cancel participation in the conference, don’t throw good money after bad.

Ellen K said...

There's a great divide between the teachers in classrooms and administration. We've had good time and bad time economically, but there seems to be no real restrictions put on upper level administration or upper level athletic directors and band directors. I've often wonders when the much promised transparency in school funding would open people's eyes as to the very unbalanced way to run the show. The department I run has had our funding cut, despite more students in our classes, every single year for the last three years. At the same time our athletics program has had increases on top of having booster funding that merited enough to build a third gym just for use of the cheerleaders, drill team and color guard. When we have academic programs which are struggling just to get computers that have something newer than Windows XP for an operating system, it just seems wrong that they allot other programs with more money. As for district level admin-I can talk about three different big money programs that were pushed heavily for us to use, which have never been implemented. And these were purchased as the result of seminars attended by administrators at cushy and I am sure well catered events.

skeneogden said...

If the conference was about fiduciary responsibility then I would wholeheartedly support it.

In this economic climate that is the only type of conference any school official should be attending.

Get your fiscal house in order and then attend teaching workshops, etc.

Anonymous said...

First, no mention of what the conference was about. That would be nice to know and how if fit with the school mission plan, etc.

This is just a 'let's be outraged' hit piece. No facts at all, other than fourteen people went for less than fifteen grand. That's not expensive.