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Received this silly letter the other day and cracked up! First of all, I am referred to as "Mister." That’s the least of the ridiculousness.
I am here as an intern, a card carrying American Psychological Association-approved intern. I am on a prestigious consortium internship, but it’s the Memphis City Schools that pay me because I am there more than I am anywhere else. This is the case for the two of us working in the schools. The other four interns are paid by UT. The sites that offer major rotations all chip in to pay our stipends.
From the beginning, MCS has tried to stick this square peg into their round hole. They made me fill out an application with all this stuff about what subjects I want to teach and my teaching certifications. I am not a teacher! Not here anyway! When I teach, I teach college, not K-12. Most of my application said "Not Applicable." Since I’ve been here, I have to fill out their time sheets, their activity trackers… even though I’m only in the schools for part of the week. This letter is the culmination of all of their silliness.
Beaurocracy, man. It’s unbelievable. No wonder the schools can’t get it together. Micromanaging from the top, and soooo many budget cuts. And then we have more school-aged kids than just about anywhere. It’s a mess, and this letter… this silly ridiculous letter… is just a perfect example of the way of things.
I’ve deidentified this thing so that noone is singled out, but I think it still illustrates just what I’m talking about.
So last weekend, Aaron and I decided to go to the Pink Palace Museum. I’d been years ago. It isn’t great, but that’s not the point of the story here. The point is that there is this completely disgusting exhibit at the museum right now. Maybe I’m overreacting, but blech.
OK, the exhibit is called CSI: Crime Scene Insects. You go in, and there are several little areas explaining different parts of why insects have a lot to do with forensics. At each station, there is a dead body painted on the floor with various demonstrations of how bugs are an important part of the decomposition process. The first one has a few fake morgue drawers with fake dead bodies in them. On the wall is an explanation of the various stages of decomposition: freshly dead, bloated, maggot-infested, etc. The names are prettier than that, but that’s basically the idea.
Maybe it’s because of all the pictures I saw after the Tsunami. Maybe it’s because they found a dead body across the street in the park. Maybe it’s because this is Memphis, and there is a lot of crime. But I was really offended, and I’m not really one to get offended. Little kids were looking at these exhibits, standing on top of the parts of the floor with the photographs of the dead bodies on them. There was a woman there with a very young little girl (maybe 3) in her arms. The little girl was looking past her mother’s shoulder at us, and I kept thinking, “Why are you here, little girl? Why is this fun? Why is it cool?”
Needless to say, we left pretty quickly. Is the plan to appeal to what kids know? Sure, it’s interesting, but come on. So are many other things that are far less gruesome that teaching Memphis children how bugs help bodies to decompose. Who decided this was a good idea?!
If it were the same exhibit, but a little more advanced and for adults, I think it would be a pretty decent idea. But in Memphis, and with kids this young? I don’t know. Kids don’t even really have a concept of what death is yet… not like an adult. It just didn’t sit well with me at all.
- The Official Site of the Exhibit
- An insane site that loads several auto-playing wave files at once. To watch them, close them all first, then play each one separately. (Did anyone even test to see if the site was working before loading it?!)
- A kid talks about what she learned at the exhibit.
I recommend not going!
Some info I’ve learned:
- Memphis has the highest infant mortality rate among the nation’s 60 largest cities, with babies dying at twice the rate of the national average. Link.
- Memphis was ranked second among the 100 "most challenging places to live for asthmatics" in a national study. Link 1. Link 2.
- According to Men’s Fitness Magazine, Memphis is the 4th fattest city in the nation, and we got an F rating in the categories of Exercise/Sports Participation, TV Watching, Overweight/Sedentary, and Air Quality. Link 1. Link 2.
- The percentage of school-aged children is really high. Link.
- Sperling’s Best Places says Memphis is the second worst large city for crime (after Tuscon, Arizona… apparently Jo Jo left there for some California grass). Link.
- Out of 200 cities rated, Self Magazine ranked Memphis 200th for Healthiest Places for Women. Link.
- Not to mention the gang problems in the schools, the fact that we have an extremely high percentage of children in our population that we can’t afford, and the "inevitable" earthquake.
I don’t usually use my blog to seek out opinions, but tell me this… What happened here? What’s your theory? Is it the legacy of MLK being shot here? Is it related to its location on the Mississippi? Did freed slaves get stuck here? I mean really… I’d love to know what you think, because things here are statistically quite bad – way worse than average.
I’ve written an official letter to the program supervisor officially complaining about the sad lack of a usable computer in my cubicle in the school administration building. I’m under the impression that it’s completely out of his hands and that there is nothing I can do. I’m afraid this may be another case like the health insurance. I’ll do all this legwork to make things right (like shmoozing the big donors at the Christmas party) so that I end up helping the people who come here next year instead of helping myself. I mean, it’s something, but it’s… well… non-optimal. I’d kind of like my efforts to help me, too!
It’s a shame, really, because this internship is all kind of excellent. The supervisors, the organization of everything… it’s superb. It’s just that this one little day-to-day detail just isn’t as it should be, and it’s this constant irritant.
Aaron has been kind enough to lend me a laptop he has, but it’s a little bitty one that gets really hot really fast. I have to cart it to and fro. I need a computer that can live there in my office. It’s amazing to me that people expect that I can get by without a computer. My supervisor doesn’t use a computer. I’m not really sure how that works. Never done it. Maybe I’m spoiled, but if that’s the case, then so be it. I don’t think I am. I’m just technologically skilled, and I do better work when I have my whole toolkit available.
I’ve been browsing around online looking at deals on refurbs. I know eBay is an option, too. Gah! These stupid things… somet of them are using Windows 98. HELLO!!!! It’s 2005! Windows 98 is SEVEN YEARS OLD!!!! It just makes me really angry that I’m here, considering dropping a few hundred out of my big $15K for the year on equipment they should have provided for me. I’ll get on, get a real mouse to put there with it, so I don’t kill myself with carpal tunnel on a touchpad, and I’ll keep it locked in my cubicle.
I still won’t be hooked up to the printer or the Internet (it’s all protected somehow so plugging in doesn’t seem to work – plus, every site I’d want to visit is blocked). No, they won’t hook me up to these things. They only support computers they provide. No, they won’t give me any scoring software. Again, that’s only for their computers. But at least if I have a cheap laptop with a decent-sized screen, I’ll be able to have it there to work on… so I can, like, DO MY JOB! At least some of it… not the printing out things I write part. Not the checking my e-mail part. Not the utilizing online resources part. Not the scoring protocols part. But the writing report part… that, I will be able to do. Man, the more I write, the more I realize this still isn’t really a very good option.
Grrr. I get so angry when I think about it. Hey, at least I have a phone now. That’s something.