Forget The Mac/PC Debate, Pinellas School Case Is Simple Mismanagement

Imagine, if you will, the mayor of a city and some of his staff decide that its police force needs to switch all handguns to a single caliber. Sadly, none have actually used a gun for law enforcement, but they still made the decision without consulting any patrolmen or the police forceis weapons officer. They claim the decision was made for reasons of cost effectiveness and efficiency, yet they failed to gather a single estimate for new weapons, ammunition or maintenance. Not only did this mayor intentionally mislead the cityis council and avoid discussing the decision publicly, but he did so because he knew there would be resistance to it.

In "the real world" the policy would be re-examined and the mayor would likely be reprimanded or disciplined. We have yet to see the outcome when that happens in an educational system.

The computer controversy in the Pinellas County school system, as The Mac Observer reported on 9/17/2003 and again yesterday (read both articles for background if you are unfamiliar with this subject), is deplorable; but I have no interest in continuing any argument over features or ease of use. Iim not going to stand on a soapbox and decry platform discrimination. The root of this issue is the improper conduct of Superintendent Hinesley and some of his other top administrators.

I reject the ridiculous assertion made by assistant superintendent Al Swinyard, that the decision to go all PC was made in the name of efficiency, not because I believe the wrong decision was made, but because no research was ever done. He even admitted to a St. Petersburg Times reporter that they did not work up any numbers and didnit see a reason to do so. Folks, we live in a time when a public department has to get three estimates to buy light bulbs. Weire talking about a district that spent nearly US$1.5 million on computers between July and September of this year.

When discussing the decision making process, Swinyard stated that they didnit want to consult teachers or form a group to discuss the change in policy. According to him, it was because they didnit want people to get upset when he and his fellow decision-makers ignored their usersi opinions. It disgusts me to hear about administrators who donit value the opinions of the very educators responsible for teaching the children of their district. That kind of intentional ignorance is arrogant and irresponsible.

The administrators responsible for this are concerned with conforming. They say this effort is " bring the district to whatis happening in the rest of the business world." Apparently they want to make the school system more like a corporation. I have a revelation for Mr. Hinesley and Mr. Swineyard with respect to that idea.

You arenit in the business world.

Business is about profit, not education. Even if that were a good idea, Iim not very confident about their skills as businessmen, either. If the business world they want to model their school system after also makes million dollar purchasing decisions without doing any research, I recommend parents check out some good parochial schools.