Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Real-World Politics of Schedule Changes

By Patrick O'Connor, Ph.D

I’ve decided it’s time to amend the United States Constitution. 
From now on, the only people who get to vote are school counselors.
This thought came to me after three weeks of nonstop phone calls to my house from presidential candidates.  After listening to the logic and claims they were making to try and secure my vote, I was sure I had been exposed to this interesting kind of banter before—and, sure enough, I had.

“Dr. O’Connor?”

“Hi James.”

“I came in because I need to change my schedule.”

“Really?  Didn’t we just change it three days…”

“Yeah, we did, an issue has come to my attention that demands an immediate change of course in my educational objectives.”

“Really?  In three days?”

“It came to me like a vision in the night.  I’m destined to be an engineer and lead society to a better world.”

“Through engineering?”

“Absolutely. So if you’ll just sign this drop and add slip…”

“James, you’re asking to drop Algebra 2.”

“Yes.  That is my intention.”

“But engineers need Algebra 2.  In fact, you’ll need to take Calculus by senior year.”
“That information flies in the face of the consensus of my supporters.”

“Your supporters?”

“Yes.  My mother tells me that leading engineers are more in touch with their creative side than those who have studied the tired theories of the past, and my uncle is an engineer who doesn’t even remember the quadratic formula.”

“Wow.  What kind of engineer is he?  Civil?  Chemical?”

“No.  He works for Amtrak.”

“But that’s not the kind of –“

“Dr. O’Connor, I really need your support to make this lasting change that will lead to a brighter future for all.”

“From Algebra 2.”


“To Ceramics?”

“If it weren’t for ceramic engineers, we’d never have the tiles that created the heat shield on the space shuttle, the world-known fountain at Metro Airport, or that really cool toilet in the teacher’s lounge.”

“How do you know about—“

“I have my sources, Dr. O’Connor.”

“So you’re telling me this change is in the best interest of your educational well-being?”
“Not just mine, Dr. O’Connor.  It’s for the good of all.”

“Including Amanda Bailey, I assume.”


“Amanda Bailey.  The girl who asked you to the Sadie Hawkins Dance out of the blue?”
“I am acquainted with Amanda.”

“She has French 2 during the period you want to take Ceramics.”

“James, students in French 2 have first lunch, and so does Ceramics.”


“Algebra 2 has second lunch.”

“Dr. O’Connor, I’m really not prepared to address that issue at this time.  If you’d just sign this drop and add slip—“

“Tell you what, James.  Why don’t you leave it with me, and I’ll run this request by a focus group.”

“A focus group?”

“Yes.  Your math teacher, the assistant principal, your mother, Amanda’s mother.  Once I have consensus, we’ll all have a better sense of how to proceed.”

“Actually, Dr. O’Connor, I think it might be prudent to suspend my plans at this time.”

“I think that’s wise, James.  Better your plans get suspended then, oh, say, something else.”

“Or someone else.”


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