Corporate or Revisionist History?

April 18, 2008

This time last year, I was beginning side conversations with county government to correct the course of our school system’s technology funding. I supplied sufficient data to show how erratic local funding over nearly a decade had created an aging computer inventory in schools.

As a result of inconsistent funding, 42% (or 1,243) of our computers are 7 years or older. Besides being unreliable and high maintenance, these computers are inadequate for handling up to 85% of the objectives in the Computer Skills Curriculum.

Faced with the reality that we would be maintaining computers for over seven years, our operational philosophy necessarily shifted toward power and durability as key factors to consider in purchasing computers. Cheap, late model computers from the bargain racks simply wouldn’t endure our typical computer lifespan.

Hence, the expensive durable laptops.

This argument resonated with county manager John Langdon as quoted in the News-Times on 6/22/07:

The county and school board also agreed to pursue a $2 million financing plan to replace computers in the schools.

In an e-mail sent to commissioners Tuesday, Mr. Langdon stated it was clear technology needs at the schools had been under-funded during the last seven years and as a result, the schools’ computer fleet was obsolete.

The data allowed Mr. Langdon to arrive at an alternative solution—stabilize funding and buy less expensive computers. His thoughts were captured in the Jacksonville Daily News (6/21/08):

The request includes $1.2 million to replace 780 outdated computers and other technology, but County Manager John Langdon sent out an e-mail Tuesday to school officials suggesting that amount may not be the most affordable or realistic route to take.

“That number may be too much for annual funding and won’t significantly improve excessive obsolescence (of computers) soon enough,” he said in the e-mail.

Langdon has proposed a financing plan much like one it just adopted for Carteret Community College improvements. The county would finance a $2 million loan to go toward school system technology needs.

Langdon said tight budget years and no technology funding in 2002 caused the technology replacement cycle for the schools to go astray over recent years. But he doesn’t see the practice of buying more expensive, higher-end computers to extend their lives somewhat longer as a good answer.

By buying computers at a lesser cost and implementing a more realistic replacement cycle, the proposed plan would purchase 1,475 computers, he said.

Then in August the final deal was struck for technology. This opened the door to a creative and beneficial partnership between the Board of Education and County Government.

Through creative bidding and setting a five-year replacement cycle, the county and the school system have struck a plan that both replaces computers and upgrades technology in schools and saves big money for taxpayers.

“It was a real incredible partnership between the school system and county government,” said Joe Poletti, director of technology and media for the school system, on the arrangement.

Here’s the entire News-Times article as documentation of the deal.

Why, even the erudite editors of the News-Times weighed in in support of significant technology funding in Mea Culpa.

Having had our minds opened to what school officials propose, we thank the individuals mentioned above for pointing out our blunder. We also second the schools’ request for “technology” needs, voicing a preference to lease rather than to purchase.

. . . and this is another benefit of Haulin’ ‘Net blog. It helps to preserve some corporate history no matter the turns in the blogger’s professional roadmap.

* * * *

So, it was with great intrigue, but little surprise as a new budget year approaches, that I read the print editorial from Mr. D. L. Darden in today’s News-Times (4/18/08):

Remember the $1500 laptop computers that school officials assured the taxpayers were the best price possible? Somehow the county manager found them for under $1,000.

No, Mr. Darden, we never said it was the best price possible. The above citations clearly demonstrate that we proposed durable and expensive laptops as the best value solution given the protracted computer lifespan into which our school system had been forced.

Mr. Langdon and the county commissioners agreed with that and moved to stabilize funding so that computers would be on a five-year replacement cycle. This is what opened the door to the less expensive models.

Mr. Darden’s feeble attempt to revise history and discredit the current Board of Education in the area of technology funding simply does not jibe with the evidence preserved here in the corporate record.

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Constellations Yet Undiscovered

April 17, 2008

The internet joke goes something like this:

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson went on a camping trip. As they lay down for the night, Holmes said: “Watson, look up into the sky and tell me what you see.”

Watson said: “I see millions and millions of stars.”

Holmes: “And what does that tell you?”

Watson: “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Theologically, it tells me that God is great and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, it tells me that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow.

What does it tell you?”

Holmes: “Somebody stole our tent.”

It’s no joke—In education we have built up lots of tents over time. They are our familiar places that keep us secure. Retiring to our tents is what we have always done. Our tents are our traditions. . .our parameters.

When tradition and parameters are removed, we can see constellations yet undiscovered,
new arrays of stars wanting but a name,
boundless new horizons-opportunities-pathways-visions-dreams,
fresh starts.

Or, we can simply see that our tents are missing.


Nothing to Whine About

April 15, 2008

ClustrMaps archives annually. This map shows a year’s worth of traffic to Haulin’ ‘Net.

Although my new job as a high school administrator prevents me from writing as much as I’d like to and I used to, I would never complain about it. In fact, the increased and time-consuming connections with students, teachers, parents, and the broad community has been invigorating.

Yet, in this swath of humanity, complaints abound. And it is part of my job to receive them.

From The Man Watching, I read of UNC womens soccer coach Anson Dorrance and his position on whining. He shares the following quote with his players. It comes from Man’s Search for Meaning (Frankl):

If there is meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death. Without suffering and death, human life cannot be complete. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity–even under the most difficult circumstances–to add a deeper meaning to his life.

Dorrance sees whining as one of the most destructive aspects of athletics. Whining is degrading to the whiner and to the people who tolerate it.

To emphasize his stance on whiners to his team, Dorrance adds this gem from George Bernard Shaw:

Be a force of fortune instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.


Charmed, I’m Sure

April 15, 2008

The West Carteret Varsity Girls soccer team used this rainbow to score their pot o’ gold victory against Havelock High on 4/14. The Patriot lady booters moved to a formidible 10-3 on the season.


School Without Walls

April 13, 2008

North Carolina Virtual Public School (the five-minute video)

Carteret County Schools NCVPS MIid-Term Report—

Total Students This Semester:  29

A:  11

B:  2

C:  3

D: 2

F: 4

WF: 3

WP: 2

Drop: 2