I sometimes want to choke the principal at Mrs. Geek’s school. It is very likely a bad thing to want to wish violence on the principal of a Catholic school, what with Catholic guilt and all. Instead, I should just write about it here. That will help.
As a bit of background, let me first say that Mrs. Geek’s school has an office automation problem. Namely, they have nearly none. Oh, there’s a little use of spreadsheets here and there. People sometimes write a document on a word processor. E-mail is not a completely foreign concept (though some people prefer to respond to e-mails by printing them out, making annotations, and then physically placing said responses on paper in teacher mail boxes). Most teachers do record grades using Easy Grade Pro. On the whole however, there is very little computer use going on with respect to streamlining day to day school administration.
The principal at this school knows this and has some good intentions about changing it — though she sometimes seems to take an attitude toward technology that verges on “I don’t know nothin’ about that boneheaded computer crap”. Her first stab at it was to purchase a school automation package specifically aimed at Catholic schools that used the letter C in the name (maybe Catholic?). We were never sure what the C stood for, but to us it stands for CRAP. Both Mrs. Geek and I warned her off buying this software; Mrs. Geek had misgivings about how well it would work in the classroom, and I said “please consider how well it will fit into your day to day business before buying” which is a professional warning to think really, really, REALLY hard before buying it.
She got it anyway. When teachers discovered that marking a child absent took several seconds for the check box to fill in (because that tiny bit of information had to travel all the way from Mrs. Geek’s school to a server in the software company’s machine room and back), all hope was abandoned and the search for an alternative began. I have told her that I would help evaluate that alternative just avoid another fiasco.
That brings us to yesterday. Mrs. Geek was asked to fill in for the Math Teacher for the afternoon. Part way through her time teaching math, the principal comes to Mrs. Geek and says “I’m going to a meeting you should probably be attending”. Where is the principal going? To another Catholic school to see a presentation on the package of software used to run that school. The company who makes this particular package of software seems thoroughly competent and respectable. They also cost about four times as much as the C software people, but hey, this really is one of those cases where you get what you pay for. I know this because she gave Mrs. Geek and I some materials handed out at that meeting and asked “what do you think?”
I want to throttle her. If she really wanted a well thought out opinion, Mrs. Geek and I should both have been at that meeting yesterday. But no, we are only given a few scraps of paper instead of a working demo. I also fear that any comments we have will also be placed in the “boneheaded computer crap” file. As a software professional, I don’t like being treated this way and I really don’t like how Mrs. Geek is being treated in all this.
*sigh* The school will probably get the package. That will largely be a good thing. Of course, it probably won’t fit all of their needs. Mrs. Geek and I will then get the call to “fix it”. Fixing it will likely involve customizing the package — something Mrs. Geek and I could definitely advise the school about if we were really involved in the evaluation and purchase process to begin with.
I want to throttle her, and that’s not good.