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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Building a Bridge to the 19th Century...

So I am a public school teacher for the District of Columbia Public Schools. The District has a lot of excellent teachers both veteran and new, but it also has A LOT of dead weight. The Chancellor has made it very clear that she envisions new teachers as the future of DCPS, and has gone to great lengths to recruit new teachers as well as to entice veteran teachers to leave. Part of the problem with the new teachers is that we are shoved into the classroom with really minimal training and preparation and expected to sink or swim. The attrition rate is extremely high. There are a lot of reasons for this.

One of them is paper.

DCPS has the most archaic bureaucracy I have ever witnessed. Every day brings a new flood of paper. Paper from the District offices. Paper from the principal. Paper from the school office. Even though all of the school's attendence records are stored digitally, each teacher is legally bound to keep each student's attendence recorded on a paper card. Report cards are filled out by hand and CARBON PAPER copies are kept. I think there is probably one carbon paper factory left on Earth and its only customers are DCPS and John McCain's Senate office. Every day, almost, my principal gives me paper forms to fill out and is concerned when I lose them. Here's an idea, E-MAIL!!!!!

I was forced to attend a staff deveopment training on the new DIGITAL Professional Development process. Teachers can now sign up for professional development sessions on the INTERNETS (hooray!)! We digitally check in and out at these sessions (yeah!)! And then to prove to our principals and the teacher certification office we have to print out a certificate of attendence physically take it to the professional development offices to have an official seal put onto it, and then pysically take it to the central office, which is in a different part of town. WHAT!?!? Yes, the new digital PD system can force you to trek completely across the city multiple times on your own personal time and gas (or METRO fare).

WORD TO DCPS: People under thirty don't use paper; we lose paper. DCPS's record keeping is archaic, wasteful and idiotic, and is just one of a myriad of reasons young teachers are fleeing.


ms. mindless said...

wow. you totally made me feel much better about the losing important papers issue. i consistently lose any piece of paper that is remotely important.

Dee Does The District said...

I posit that DCPS is one of the few major school systems still using paper report cards. Even my mother's podunk little school in NC enters everything into a computer program and hits print.