Friday, June 10, 2011

What Happens When Non-Teachers Make Decisions? Stupid Ideas That Ultimately Hurt Your Kids

I received word my soon-to-be former high school is adopting a new printing policy.  Instead of having individual printers in teacher's rooms, the school is making several "printer rooms" where lots of teachers will share printers.  The goal is to save money.  Apparently the idea was proposed by a non-teacher.  As does typically happen, ideas that affect the classroom that are proposed by non-teachers are... well... dumb.

While the goal of saving money is completely valid, this is a horrible idea because of logistics.  Having printers in the individual classroom serves one functional purpose- it allows teachers to print without leaving the classroom.

If printing is done in another area, this forces teachers to either:

a) leave the students unattended while they retrieve something being printed, or 
b) send a student to retrieve the printed material.  
  • What happens when two students get into a fight while the teacher is in the printer room printing out yesterday's assignment for the student that was absent?  
  • What happens when the student you send to retrieve the printed paper vandalizes the room? 
  • Are you going to keep a log of all the people that enter the printing room? 
  • Are you going to monitor it with video?  
  • Won't that just cost more money?  
  • Is the school going to hire someone to be a printer gopher?  
  • Also, it takes up valuable space that is now being used as a student study area.  If a kid needs to take a test or needs a quiet place to study, where will they go?  

I seriously doubt any of these issues were even considered, which is exactly what happens when you leave decisions to people with no teaching experience.

Either situation will interrupt the flow of the classroom environment.  Anybody with even rudimentary knowledge of the inner-workings of a classroom would know this is a terrible idea.  Every teacher I've talked to hates the idea and immediately point out the flaws.  Since they were not consulted, they are pissed (as they should be.)  Some are writing letters to the superintendent and school board.  Some are plotting revenge.  Some are planning to fight this tooth and nail.  Some are contacting parents and letting them know their students will be left unattended due to this new policy.  Some are simply going out and buying their own printers. 

I would hate to be the person that has to try to smooth this decision over with the teaching staff and community. 

Sadly, it doesn't matter what is done by teachers that see the stupidity of this idea.  When we allow non-teachers to make important decisions, we can expect decisions that do not account for the issues teachers face.  As long as we place trust in non-teachers that do not understand the classroom, bad decisions will be made.  This works at the building level, district level, even the state and federal level.  The worst part- our students suffer the most.

The only people that should be making decisions that affect the classroom are teachers and administrators that were once teachers.  This specific issue really reinforces my decision to leave teaching.  I feel bad that the rest of my colleagues will have to endure this stupidity. Good luck, guys.


Update- I have been informed this decision has been modified.  Apparently individual printers will be slowly phased out over time and gradually moved to centralized printing. 

<sarcasm> Sounds like a great solution! </sarcasm>

The  "frog in hot water" technique is often used as a way to gradually implement bad ideas.


  1. And let me guess that they are replace the normal simple laser printers or maybe even deskjet printers with high output copy machines that will eventually jam or break that will require special maintenance. And then instead of having one broken printer screwing up one classroom, now its multiple classrooms that are screwed?

    I don't know. I would like to see this proposal as it was given and see how they have this planned out... Mostly because I'm a IT guy and would be at the receiving end of this anger...

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  3. Ryan, think how you would do it. Now stick a pencil up your nose until it penetrates your brain. Now re-do the plan. That would be an accurate representation of the current plan. :-)