Thursday, November 1, 2012

New “engagement” looking a lot like old imperviousness

Our school district has now “closed” the school lunch discussion thread on its new public engagement website. Before it closed, several people had submitted posts in favor of giving kids more time for lunch, and those posts had received far more “seconds” than any other proposals on the site – one of them receiving 32 votes. My own proposals, “a more humane environment” and “less emphasis on reflexive obedience to get material rewards,” also received a higher-than-average number of seconds – 11 and 12, respectively.

Through some mysterious process – the engagement website is particularly convoluted – the district can put some ideas into the “Great idea!” or “Recommended to Schools” categories. Even though the school lunch thread attracted far more participants than any of the other categories, the district did not designate any of the lunch ideas “great” or “recommended.” The only “great” idea was “More Bike Racks,” and the only “recommended” idea was one promoting National Walk to School Day. Those ideas received 9 and 7 seconds, respectively.

The district did post a non-committal statement thanking people for the lunch suggestions and saying that “The district is assessing this situation and has implemented some changes in buildings to improve the situation.” None of those changes, however, involved lengthening the lunch period. Nor did the district put any of the lunch ideas into the “researching” category.

The district has still not opened any threads on curriculum, or on the proposed bond issue, or on the controversial plan for a new high school.

The public engagement site was hard to take seriously at the outset. It’s not getting any easier.


Kathy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kathy said...

Yes, I gave up after trying to start a thread about how lack of AC creates serious educational inequity not mention health risks when I couldn't get the censors to okay it. It isn't "Engage Iowa City Schools," more like "Engage Iowa City Schools Admin. from our Pre-approved Topics List (and the robo-cop data-base administrator takes you very seriously) "*LOL*
Anyone up for Top Ten List? You know, catch phrases or euphemisms that mean, "Keep talking all you want, but the status quo isn't going to change."
#1. One Community, One District
#2. Engage Iowa City Schools
#3. Point Well Taken

Chris said...

Kathy -- Thanks for commenting! (Sorry about the double-comment. Because the comments are moderated, they don't go up right away, so people sometimes think their comments didn't go through. And sometimes they're actually right...)

But yes, our school system has no shortage of euphemistic brush-offs. Sometimes I think there must be a secret strategy memo that they learn in Parent Management class in ed school.

What funny is how nicely the district's need for control matches up with MindMixer's desire to market a convoluted web design. They need to push a complicated, restrictive design because otherwise they'd have no business model. An eight-year-old could set up the WordPress or Blogspot site that would enable the district to hear what people are really concerned about.