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[Susan notes: It's really good to see teachers haven't lost their sense of humor. And outrageous to see that a district would spend $50,000 on this kind of piffle.]

Published in Tribune.com

To the editor

I'd like to take this moment, hopefully before your editorial board lumps us in with all the usual suspects, child molesters, and other criminals like you did last year by giving us teachers a "Jeers" classification, to discuss a few points and pose a few questions about the Gallup poll undertaken by the school district showing that 40 percent of us are "engaged" (whatever the hell that means), up from 25 percent last year.

We were asked to answer a series of ambiguous questions that somehow lead to an indication of whether or not we are "engaged" as employees. Just what it means to be "engaged" I have no idea. Your paper says it's when I'm "... enthusiastic and involved in (my) job."

When? When I'm sitting in some hopelessly boring meeting run by some completely useless consultant who knows nothing about music, or how to teach it? Or when I'm teaching a class of eager fifth graders the finer points of bow control in playing a stringed instrument, with nary an administrator in sight! There's a big difference, you know: with the latter, I'm engaged; with the former, enraged!

I remember only one question, really, about the survey: "I have a best friend at work." Highly agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Highly disagree. Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot? Now ... I don't have a best friend at school; am I penalized for that? Does that mean I'm not "engaged"?

I believe that "engagement" is just another buzzword designed to keep more consultants employed. After all, NCLB does not really stand for "No Child Left Behind;" it stands for "No CONSULTANT Left Behind!"

If Gallup can convince the district that we, at 40 percent are exploding toward the magical goal of 55 percent "engaged," the level of mythic proportions of the best-performing school districts, then surely they'll get hired back for another $50,000 visit to guide district leaders through impact planning and best practices training. Cha-ching!

Who knows; by then I may even have a BFF at school!

James F. Mothersbaugh Jr

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