By Laurie H. Rogers
[The Betrayed blog is offering spring and summer math exercises, using algebra, "real-world application," satire and humor to illustrate various realities in K-12 public education. The full series is posted here. If you would like to participate by offering a math exercise or by correcting or enhancing an exercise presented here, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Problem # 1. The number of useless administrators varied inversely with the number of qualified math teachers squared.
When there were 200 qualified math teachers, there were 5 useless administrators. As the number of qualified math teachers was cut back to 25, how many useless administrators were there?
Below is a calculation for Problem #1.
Below that is a parody of typical professional development (PD) for teachers and staff, related to Problem #1.
Calculation for Problem #1:
Answer: As the number of qualified math teachers was cut back to 25, the number of useless administrators increased to 320.
This number, of course, is fake. The number of truly qualified math teachers in most public school districts (i.e. those who know enough math to teach it to at least their grade and the grade following) has been purposefully cut back by colleges of education and administrators to "small," "infinitesimal," or "a speck, really."
Meanwhile, the number of useless administrators is more akin to the growth of bacteria, gnats or bunnies -- out of control and increasing every day.
Why is that? Why do we have this bumper crop of useless administrators, while the number of qualified math teachers is sub-atomic? It's because of the colleges of education, which work hard to turn out useless administrators, and because of education's "professional development" programs (PD), which steadfastedly aim to keep everyone as useless as possible.
Parody of PD for teachers and staff, related to Problem #1:
PD for teachers and staff typically begins with a discussion of definitions and "norms" for behavior. These are designed to help achieve consensus and to eliminate dissent. Definitions and norms usually are designed to pretend something while achieving something different.
Below is a parody of this PD.
"Consensus" -- at least half of each small group agrees to acquiesce to the administrator (or PD "facilitator") in charge. (Those who don't acquiesce face consequences that might include Human Resources and/or poisoning.)
"Acquiesce" -- to think as administrators do, because they are correct and no one else is.
"Half" -- however many who agree to acquiesce to administrators.
"Discussion" -- coming to consensus, in alignment with administrators
"Dissent" -- coming to consensus, in alignment with administrators
"Lively debate" -- coming to consensus, in alignment with administrators
Norms for behavior:
Do whatever administrators tell you to do.
Do not note inconsistencies in what administrators tell you to do.
Be polite, even as administrators politely squish all true dissent and individuality out of you.
Instructions related to Problem #1:
Work in small groups, using taxpayer-funded highlighter pens, sticky notes, butcher paper and TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculators, to count the number of administrative math "professionals" in your school district. Come to consensus on a number. Subtract the administrative math professionals who know very little actual math. (This should result in a net of zero administrators.)
Appreciate the fact that administrative math professionals have purposefully not muddied their brain with limiting notions of math, direct instruction or pedantic methods of efficient calculation. Instead, they kept their minds free to explore innovation and transformation and reform – all for you. They approach everything with an open, equitable and nonjudgmental mind, and thus, they're able to identify dissenting parents and teachers and to equitably and nonjudgmentally remove them from any position of influence.
In your small groups, eat a taxpayer-funded lunch and drink taxpayer-funded bottled water as you come up with a song and skit to show how much you appreciate the administrative math professionals. Perform your skit, and have one member of your group sing the song while others sway and clap along.
Go back to your school and wipe your brain clean of anything contrary to what administrative math professionals told you. Those unable to do this will be innovatively evaluated into the ranks of the unemployed -- equitably and nonjudgmentally, of course. And all for the kids.
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