Ahh, the much ballyhooed (now, isn’t that a great word?) Dallas ISD $2 million audit report was finally released and no big shocker there.
According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, the report contained a long laundry list of reforms needed, but no indication of money stolen. The news article went on to say, though, that “the Texas comptroller’s office, the FBI and others have also reviewed the books and found serious areas of concern.”
I won’t bore you with all the details involved in that, but, of course, all of that got me to thinking about things like why I was grateful to be working where I work (sorry, Mr. Teacher), and it got me to remembering a time long, long ago, in a galaxy… oh my goodness Pizza Andy must be channeling through me…so forget the galaxy, but do make that a long, long time ago, when I actually was asked to teach at a professional development day for DISD. (Oh, pah-leese, no need to roll your eyes. It isn’t that much of a stretch, is it?)
So let me tell you my little story that I like to call…
My feet were as swollen as Bozo the clown’s feet, and I had a sneaking suspicion my hair didn’t look much better. It was Valentine’s Day, and for a number of reasons, it was a life-changing day. I was headed for Hillcrest High School in north Dallas zipping along North Central Expressway in my trusty blue mini-van.
I had taken the day off so I could teach an in-service for Dallas journalism teachers. I almost had turned it down given my penchant for in-service bashing, but I figured I could use the $400 and thought that, perhaps, just perhaps, I could actually impart some words of wisdom. So I stashed a bagful of newly created handouts and set out to discuss how to create a successful high school journalism program.
I called my session “Surviving Dante’s Inner Circle of Hell… how to create a successful high school journalism program and live to tell the tale…” or some such blustering.
My cleverness, as always, landed me in trouble.
When I arrived in my assigned portable building, there were a total of three—count ’em—three teachers attending my session. To make matters worse, they were all English teachers, not journalism teachers. None of them had read past “Surviving Dante” and believed we would actually discuss Dante’s Inferno. One teacher had even brought her own copy of the book.
At that point, I really believed I had entered the circle of hell. I was stuck for eight hours in a small room with three (did I mention three?) English teachers who were not even remotely interested in student publications much less the entire journalism program. Forget the Inferno, I had upgraded to Sartre’s No Exit.
I felt like the guy in the song “Alice’s Restaurant” with his “twenty-seven 8-by-10 glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one” and no one to show them to.
I had my 35 copies of my 14 specially created handouts to show eager new journalism advisers what had taken me more than a decade to discover. Instead, I had three beady-eyed, angry Advanced-Placement-type English teachers who were forced to sign up for an in-service class to garner enough mandatory hours to fulfill their teacher contracts when their peers were out buzzing around on Valentine’s Day eating chocolates with their honeys or shopping with their friends or sleeping late.
The experience was almost enough for me to swear that I would never again berate another in-service presenter if I could just survive that day. (Of course, that was too big of a promise for me to make.)
But overall, that experience did provide a level of clarity as to what my mother always called, “the state of education.” As with most professional development days, the topics tend to either be irrelevant or provided to those who have little or no use for them.
So you see, not only had I started that day looking like Bozo the Clown, I ended the day feeling, well, rather Bozo-ish as well.