A DOE Offer That Must be Refused!

Jan 31, 2018 by

“I had to choose between self-respect or a big paycheck, but since I have a conscience, it was a no-brainer. I won’t get to deposit the $1000 the Department of Education offered me for a few hours a day, but I’ll still have my pride to take to the bank. Putting that cruise on hold is a small price to pay for the satisfaction of resisting the devil’s temptation.

Sounds like the lament of a Dickensian hero.

But it’s the actual words of a retired principal who came up through the ranks like school leaders were required to do before the job became an entry-level position filled by “CEO”s almost 20 years ago. He was referring to what he has come to regard as junk mail that his former employer sends him every year.

It consists of an invitation to re-join the school system in a new role. As a strong supporter of education, the prospect at first appealed to him.  But after he discovered exactly what the DOE wanted, for a moment he felt dirty just for entertaining the idea.

But the DOE won’t take “no’ for an answer. Every year they ask him the same question and he answers them the same way. But the solicitations keep on coming.

They are spam to him.

Why is he so ungrateful for the opportunity to use his wits and experience to cash in?  Has he lost interest in his lifelong profession?  Did he stop caring about kids and quality education when he turned in his pension papers?

No. Just the opposite. Because of his undying idealism, he had to reflexively reject the tainted bait.

He couldn’t sell his soul to be a DOE hatchet. He couldn’t pimp his credentials as a former principal to do the DOE’s bidding of greasing the skids to get mostly senior teachers terminated usually for causes unrelated to incompetence or wrongdoing.

He couldn’t be like a medical doctor who abandons a private practice for an even more lucrative position with an insurance company with marching orders to devise some pretext for rejecting coverage of expensive life-saving surgery for a child.

The DOE has a never-ending recruitment drive for ex-principals who “know the ropes” the system uses to hang teachers it targets for dismissal. They want to ensure there are no loopholes through which to escape. Crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” is the mandate, not arriving at any truth. Their expertise is being tapped to support the DOE’s invidious intent, not to support instruction or learning.

These career assassins must loyally and without question or questioning obey the commands they are given to help principals set up a fail-safe doomsday for the hapless teachers in their cross-hairs. The DOE is a generous benefactor to those former principals who can live with themselves after destroying the lives of usually innocent teachers.

The principal who recoils at the DOE’s habitual seduction attempts is at peace with himself:  “There’s a thousand ways that people like me could be assets to the DOE.  In many areas, expertise is in short supply.  But despite the needs and their big budget, they just want to use ex-principals to help prosecute teachers and go to hearings to serve as witnesses. It seems like their only priority. I’m not willing to be a hired hand to get rid of people, especially when my mind is made up for me. I’m not willing to be a lackey, especially when the stakes are so high. I’m not putting my integrity through a wood-chipper.”

There must be a constant turnover of the DOE’s grim reapers, or they wouldn’t have so many vacancies. Just how deep is the talent pool? How shallow is the morality quotient?

The waste at the DOE is on so many levels and takes many forms. But our schools system is still perfectly capable of regaining its former strength and reputation. It is currently hamstrung by a variety of frivolous pursuits and misplaced antagonisms. Former principals should be used to help with curriculum, budgeting, and other vital functions of a complex school, but not as vengeance squads.

Awaiting that impossible day, what does my ex-principal buddy do in the meantime when he gets propositioned by the DOE?  ” Either I write ‘return to sender’ on them, or throw them in the ‘circular file’. Shredding’s too good for them!”

Ron Isaac

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