Teachers get a bad rap for both correct and incorrect reasons, and when it’s a correct reason… all of us look bad. I have one person on my staff who I often want to choke because she is, basically incompetent when it comes to anything outside of teaching her subject matter. For that, she is quite talented, but for every other aspect of school life, she is worse than useless because useless just means I have to do her work once. She makes me do her work multiple times to correct the mistakes she makes and has been making for years.

This is a person who just doesn’t listen and just doesn’t learn. Tell her to do something one way, show her how, give her a model as to what the finished product should resemble and she will cock it up into something unrecognizable. Right now, I’m dealing with her purchase orders and again, have to spend valuable time fixing what she has wrecked.

The first purchase order is one I told her not to submit. One of my main complaints about middle school is that they have almost completely adopted an elementary-school model for education. All esteem-based, no consequence, no one fails, everyone is happy… fundamentally no education. Their science labs bear this out. Very little solid quantitative investigations are conducted and the materials they use primarily come from the grocery store. Beakers? Now, we’ll use plastic cups. A solid, quantitative kit to model a concept? No, well use paper plates and jelly beans, instead. Now, in order to purchase all of these ridiculous grocery items, they clamor for a grocery store card. Not a gift card, but a more like a standard credit card onto which is placed a fixed amount of money. That sounds like a reasonable solution, but since the MS teachers mess up the system, it turns into a nightmare. Only two cards can be issued and only two specific names. So, fights start since one teacher wants things, but the person in whose name the credit card is issued doesn’t feel like going shopping. Or gets the wrong thing. And, no… they will not go together. Then, they lose the cards and we have to get replacements. Receipts are supposed to be submitted on a weekly basis and they forget until I yell at them because the finance office yells at me. So, both the accountant at the head office and I decided to kill the grocery store cards. No more. They are an accounting nightmare and I would rather them move towards a more rigorous lab program. I told everyone this at a meeting and followed it up with an email. What lands in my mailbox – a purchase order for a grocery store card. AND, not even filled out properly. I am currently restraining myself from wadding it up and throwing it in the trashcan. After setting it on fire.

Now, the other purchase orders this person submitted look, on the surface as if they’ve been done correctly; however, this is most certainly not the case. First, the totals are wrong. She could not even add the individual item prices correctly to get the total. Then, there is no shipping cost. That burns me most of all. Again, at a meeting and followed up through an email, I said that when PO’s are filled out, the shipping cost had to be included. This has been the case since PO’s were first used in the district some 100 years ago. Most science supply companies use a percentage-based shipping cost and it’s documented in the print catalog or stated online. All you gotta do is look. When a shipping cost is not provided or when the company charges authentic shipping based on what UPS or FedEx charges them, I tell the teachers to fax or email the order to the local company representative and ask for a comprehensive price quote with shipping. This often accomplishes two things – gets the shipping cost and nets us a discount. Very often the local rep will knock the price down 10% or so and for a multi-hundred dollar order, that’s not chump change. What I get from this teacher is incorrect addition, no shipping charges, no price quote, no nothing. So, I have to fax the order to the rep, re-write the PO with new prices and shipping… all on my own time. Now, this is not the first time she has filled out purchase orders. She is a veteran faculty member who, through three department chairs has failed to follow simple instructions and just do this simple thing correctly. I hadn’t planned on staying at work for 2 hours today, but hey… at least my room has air conditioning…