Blue Ribbon Awards Scam
Names removed to protect the innocent.
Date sent: Wed, 04 Feb 1998 09:22:58 -0800
Copies to: 4Education Consumers Clearhouse
Subject: Re: Blue Ribbon Award
As a school board member in xxxx for five years, I
have watched while our schools applied for this silly award. Before I
was on the board (still just a mom)and knew what was up, I was even
asked by the prinicpal at xxxx High School to write the application.
I suggested that that was sort of an overwhelming job and that teachers
should help. For two weeks in 1990 six or seven of us worked 8 hours a
day to fill out the voluminous paper work that is required. Since the
school didn't offer geography at that time which was one of the
requirements, we even manufactured stuff to look like the school was at
least interested in offering geography! (You are right in your statement
that the school has to look like it's in a restructuring mode to
qualify.) Needless to say, the school didn't win that year. I was
elected a couple of years later, and by that time, our schools had
learned their lesson. Now, all three high schools in our district are
Blue Ribbon Schools, and the elementaries are not far behind.
Coincidentally I had been thinking about writing a LTTE concerning what
it means when ALL of our schools become Blue Ribbon Schools!
At this point in time this is the scenario. The principal wants the
designation because it insures life-time tenure. The district sets up
"staff-development" sessions that explain this process to wannabee
schools. The next step, and this is the one that really gripes me, when
a school decides to go for it, they hire a consultant. Our schools
spend an average of $1500-2000 to get someone who knows the process to
come in and direct the teachers on how to write up the form. The
teachers spend hours, days and weeks doing this stupid stuff taking time
away from their students and their families. Most of them will tell you
privately that it is all a joke, and exists for political reasons only.
Secondary schools and elementary schools take turns in alternate years
applying. Once this stuff gets started, they will all try until they
receive the award.
The pay-off is that the prinicpal gets his picture in the paper
numerous times; the principal and his favorites at the school get a
free trip to Washington to accept the award; and the school board
gets to fund a $3000 sign on the side of the building proclaiming its
excellence. There is nothing else. The award is meaningless.
When the Republicans were about to gather their might and shut down
the DOE (that was before they all turned tail and ran), our
Congressman, xxxx, was one of the ones leading the fray. During that
year the DOE managed to SELECT seven times one or another of the xxxx
schools for all kinds of "National" awards, including two Blue Ribbon
high schools. Anything anyone in xxxx's backyard applied for, they
got. It was most nauseating. But they knew they had to undermine
his efforts any way they could. I doubt he even noticed what was
I strongly advise that you do everything possible to keep your district
from wasting time and money applying for this "feel-good" award.
EDUCATION CONSUMERS CLEARINGHOUSE