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Bug Means High School Students' Schedule Errors May Last Days

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the ok-computer-meeting-people-is-easy dept.

Bug 443

Hugh Pickens writes "The Washington Post reports that thousands of high school students in Prince George's County missed a third day of classes Wednesday, and school officials said it could take more than a week to sort out the chaos caused by a computerized class-scheduling system as students were placed in gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, libraries and classes they didn't want or need at high schools across the county and their parents' fury over the logistical nightmare rose. 'The school year comes up the same time every year,' said Carolyn Oliver, the mother of a 16-year-old senior who spent Wednesday in the senior lounge at Bowie High School. 'When I heard they didn't have schedules, I was like, "What have they been doing all summer?"' When school opened Monday, about 8,000 high school students had no class schedules and were sent to wait in holding spaces while administrators tried to sort things out." (More below.)

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Schedules are important. (5, Funny)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223767)

One must know which classes to ditch.

Re:Schedules are important. (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224197)

I for one can't wait until this "government school scheduling program"

is applied to my government-run healthcare system to schedule patients.

Yay?

Re:Schedules are important. (4, Insightful)

PolyDwarf (156355) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224311)

I for one can't wait until this "government school scheduling program"

is applied to my government-run healthcare system to schedule patients.

Yay?

I guess reading the summary is hard, where it's stated they spent $4.1 million on the system. And if you look at the linked website for the company, it looks to be a private company based in Arizona, not anywhere near where the district is.

So... Yay?

Re:Schedules are important. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224489)

Obviously that was parent's message: he thinks "government-run healthcare" will just consist of outsourcing to private industry. Obviously we know how terribly private industry fails at increasing the common good (see TFA for an example).

Re:Schedules are important. (3, Funny)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224579)

I guess reading the summary is hard

It's not his fault. The government also screwed up his schedule so he couldn't take reading 101.

Re:Schedules are important. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224411)

Learn to RTFA, dumbfuck conservatard. I know it's hard with all those words, but c'mon.

Re:Schedules are important. (3, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224497)

But consider how pissed people would be if the government took away their "socialized" schools, libraries, and fire departments.

Re:Schedules are important. (4, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224637)

Maybe you've missed the huge argument over school vouchers and all the parents who'd like nothing more than to end socialized schooling for their kids? Of course, that does get to the point. Few would argue against having a governement option for health insurance, even assuming it will end up sucking and only poor people will use it (I'm a fairly hard core libertarian, but you can't escape the logic: diseases are contagious). There's pretty strong objection to having government-only health insurance, because it will end up sucking and no one will want to use it.

Every government program I can think of that doesn't suck badly has two things in common: a limited amount of money changing hands, and a limited amout of power over peoples lives.

Most of the debate, false information, prorganda, and shouting over this health care issue stems from a failure to distinguish clearly between "government option" and "government only" on all sides, including a fairly outspoken set who argue "pretend government option, but really governemnt only once we fool the voters". Fear of that last part seems to really be fanning the flames, and with the recent history of congresscritters voting on bills they haven't actually read, that last bit is a reasonable fear.

Re:Schedules are important. (3, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224693)

But parents DO have an option for school. They can put their kids in private school or they can home school. The vouchers are just a way of saying that they don't want to pay in to the government-run system.

Similarly, if the health care system were optional, people could get their own private health care. But they wouldn't expect vouchers toward it.

Re:Schedules are important. (0, Troll)

teknosapien (1012209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224529)

you're a moron

Re:Schedules are important. (2, Funny)

lgw (121541) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224675)

No, no, no. On the internet you must say "your a moron". It's like a natural law or something. Get with the program!

Re:Schedules are important. (0, Offtopic)

idlehanz (1262698) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224343)

You can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat. - Pink Floyd

Sounds like all is well.

Re:Schedules are important. (0, Redundant)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224781)

Very true. Ditching class without a schedule is like playing hooky in the summer.

Class scheduling is hard work, yo! (3, Funny)

RingDev (879105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223807)

I remember talking to the admin at one of the colleges I attended. We asked them how they did their scheduling. The rumor was that the Dean would lock himself in a hotel room with a map of the school, the student list, the course catalog, and the teacher list, and 3 bottles of whiskey for a long weekend.

After which, he would take a weeks vacation while everyone marveled over the new schedules.

-Rick

Re:Class scheduling is hard work, yo! (3, Interesting)

tuxedobob (582913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224131)

One of my projects for a comp sci class in college was a scheduling system, of sorts. It was done from the student's point of view, though. I'd set it up by importing data from a CSV done in Excel, and it would know which lab sections belonged with which lecture sections of a course. It allowed you to specify preferred class times and teachers from what was available. You would enter in what required courses you needed to take, and additionally enter in several optional courses, only one of which you could take, and it would give you a list of all possible schedules, sorted from most desirable to least.

The schedule creation was done in a PHP script which is about 6KB in size, and the whole thing is about 140KB, csv not included.

Re:Class scheduling is hard work, yo! (2, Funny)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224241)

I think my university computing department had (has?) a Prolog script to do the scheduling, but I don't know if it was seriously used or not.

I assume you gave it some inputs (room sizes, class sizes, lectures required, etc) and then spent a week trying to work out why it wasn't giving the right result. But maybe that's just my Prolog :-D

Re:Class scheduling is hard work, yo! (1)

tuxedobob (582913) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224541)

Nah. Like I said, I did it from the students' point of view. So the rooms were already set up, and class sizes were 25 90% of the time. But if you needed to take 5 courses that semester, and there were, say, 15 sections for 2 of them and 5 sections for the other 3, it would tell you all the possible ways you could get that to work.

Re:Class scheduling is hard work, yo! (4, Interesting)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224789)

A pair of entrepreneurs were giving a talk at my university about their successes and failures in the start-up phase of their company.

They had been spending about 18 months straight building a class scheduling program, and had gotten it to work, but they felt their four day run time was way too long to market, and couldn't figure out how to improve the speed and were about to give up. They were using an old version of the university's students, teachers, student's course wishes and rooms.

At a party at the university one of them was talking to someone from the school's administration and after a couple of drinks they got to talking about the work he was doing, and he mentioned the 36 hour run time, which made the administration guy look quite surprised, as they were used to having a two week run time on their current system, which they were happy with, as it was one of the fastest on the market.

Now, this anecdote was somewhat old at the time, but his point was "a product may seem worthless to you as an outsider of the industry, but that doesn't mean it isn't better than what's available". My point is that these type of scheduling takes a long time to complete

As a Maryland Resident.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29223825)

Seeing Prince George's County's name listed there comes as no surprise.

Re:As a Maryland Resident.. (5, Interesting)

Airline_Sickness_Bag (111686) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224615)

Both of my kids are in Prince Georges County public schools. They are both in the science and technology magnet program at Eleanor Roosevelt HS. Two years ago, they used mygradebook.com for teachers to use, and it was a breeze to check on grades, see what assignments were due (and what assignments were missing), etc. It was an easy sytem to use, and worked well. Last year ERHS was forced to use the SchoolMax system. It was a disaster. So I'm not surprised that the problem was caused by the SchoolMax software.

Big deal (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223857)

High school is a waste of time anyway, and the first week of HS especially so. They weren't going to be learning anything anyway.

Re:Big deal (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223999)

You don't have kids, do you? ;)

Really, it depends on the school. My daughter's in a PG County magnet program and she's learning a hell of a lot -- if I have any worries about the program, it's that they may be working her too hard, and believe me, I have pretty high standards for what that means.

Re:Big deal (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224089)

For a lot of kids it may very well be a waste of time. The smarter kids would likely do better just taking college courses as the credit is useful for getting into a career they like later. For everyone else the major draw of high school isn't so much learning more as it is socializing with other teens.

Re:Big deal (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224173)

the major draw of high school isn't so much learning more as it is socializing with other teens.

Yup. Gotta love socializing with teens. It does wonders for your maturity when you have to interact with adults...

Incidentally (previous paragraph was sarcastic, btw), I was homeschooled. It's interesting to me that "no social life!!!!11" was one of the major "what, you were homeschooled?" reactions when I went to a junior college for two years. It would appear that "learning" takes second place to "fun" and "social life." Apparently, education is secondary to teenage social skills when it comes to business after college.

Re:Big deal (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224435)

I know your post was satire I just fond it to be a convenient time to voice my own opinion.

Yup. Gotta love socializing with teens. It does wonders for your maturity when you have to interact with adults...

I never said it was a good thing, just that it is generally an appealing concept to most teens. For me high school was a waste. I was never that much into socializing with my own age group so that aspect of high school did nothing for me. As for actually learning things worth mentioning, that only really started in college. Most of my friends didnt bother with HS much but instead took most of their worth while classes at the local college and frankly it did them a lot of good.

It would appear that "learning" takes second place to "fun" and "social life." Apparently, education is secondary to teenage social skills when it comes to business after college.

That is probably one of the most important reasons why most of the population is under-educated/ignorant of things they really should know.

Re:Big deal (1)

teknosapien (1012209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224825)

Depends on the school system. My daughter had home work over the summer in Calc, Stats, Psychology and Spanish. She has a quizes/tests scheduled for the first days of class relating to her summer home work

Send the kids home? (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223863)

I understand that there might be some concern with unleashing all these teenagers on the unsuspecting public, but after all they have been home all summer, so making them stay there for another couple of days while they get all this sorted out doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Nothing good can come of packing a bunch of teenagers into one room with nothing to do (and especially no air conditioning!). At the high school I went to, there would have been at least 2 fights on the first day of such an arrangement, and it would have gone downhill from there.

Oh yeah, and don't most schools have their administrators, and usually the teachers, report in at least a week before school starts? Wouldn't that have been a perfect time to conduct audits and make sure everything was ready for the students to arrive?

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

yincrash (854885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223895)

If they send the students home, that probably means that they need to have extra school days at the end of the year, or cut into holidays.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223923)

Which is what ought to happen, since the kids are being deprived of instruction days in any case. They still will not have the number of required days in their assigned classes if they're sitting in a gymnasium rather than sitting in the classroom.

Re:Send the kids home? (3, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223953)

Deprived of instruction or deprived of instruction days? It seems to me that we're more concerned with "days" than "instruction."

Re:Send the kids home? (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224063)

Even worse, we are more concerned with 'instruction' than 'learning'.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224193)

Touche. With the accent thing.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224445)

é
Now that I know it I will be calling lots of people "douché".

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224491)

Somewhere long about middle school for me the school year started getting longer and longer. Guess what with a few rare exceptions teachers don't know how to use the extra time effectively. They either slow down everything, which is good for some students I guess, and bore everyone else to half to death or they sprinkle in the occasional movie day.

Get a clue the school year was much to long when I was in school and I have been out for quite some time. What would be useful is if our society was more open to ( at least teenage ) kids trailing their parents around more often. No I don't think more internships are the answer either; for every good internship, ten others amount to stuffing paper into envelopes and getting the coffee. I think kids should come to work or work around the house with their parents more so they can see what "work" is and how it actually gets done. That might prove useful experience for them.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

bagorange (1531625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224817)

I think kids should come to work or work around the house with their parents more so they can see what "work" is and how it actually gets done.

Such a system would be a very effective way to lock in low-to-zero social mobility even further for children of low socio-economic status parents. Sounds great if daddy/mummy is a lawyer, but not great at all if they are unemployed or are a cleaner.

Re:Send the kids home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224307)

They usually use "snow" days for this. They have ~5 a year, only after those 5 are used do they cut into summer.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223977)

Federal funding is based on attendance, not instruction. In CA the state does the same thing. Dunno about Maryland.

Re:Send the kids home? (5, Informative)

mctk (840035) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224219)

Wouldn't that have been a perfect time to conduct audits and make sure everything was ready for the students to arrive?

I'm guessing you haven't worked in a public school? Two years ago I got my classroom assignment 3 days before students showed up. My co-worker had 1 day. Instead of curriculum planning, we spent the time running around the halls trying to find desks for students, the teacher's manuals for our books, get appropriate keys, etc.

Oh, and we also had a part time counselor in charge of 300+ students' schedules at our school and another 300+ at our neighbor school. A student shows up who hasn't registered? The secretary will put her in some temporary classes until a week later when the counselor can actually review her transcript and place her accordingly.

No one is sitting around that week. There's a thousand jobs that need to be done, but the districts keep cutting support staff and putting it on the shoulders of teachers and counselors. I wouldn't be quick to blame anyone in that school building.

Re:Send the kids home? (3, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224315)

I didn't mean to imply the teachers are to blame, although I can see how my post could have been interpreted that way. The administrators should be the ones primarily responsible for auditing the schedules, not the teachers. And believe me, I sympathize with the fact that school personnel are constantly asked to do more with fewer resources. That's the big reason I elected not to go into teaching. My mother and older brother are both teachers, and I just don't want to deal with the aggravation they have to deal with on a daily basis.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

ultraexactzz (546422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224657)

Most districts have to have so many full days of class per year, and schedule accordingly. Thus, the "snow days" you hear about every year - these are extra days built into the schedule, so that if school has to close for snow/heat/swine flu/etc., they can still have the minimum number of classes.

If they have more than those days off, then they have to add days to the end of the year, or lose in-service days, or hold class on Saturday. So sending the kids home while they fix the schedules isn't really an option - as little as they are accomplishing now, they count as full school days.

Re:Send the kids home? (1)

CSMatt (1175471) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224785)

Oh yeah, and don't most schools have their administrators, and usually the teachers, report in at least a week before school starts? Wouldn't that have been a perfect time to conduct audits and make sure everything was ready for the students to arrive?

You are assuming competence in a public high school administration.

I know who's to blame... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29223877)

Damn you, COBOL!!!!

Can't do it by hand (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223891)

Hmm get a bunch of people including teachers and do it by hand. If you can't do it by hand , give the software to a bunch of computer science students and have them work out the bug, it's not hard.

Re:Can't do it by hand (2, Funny)

v1 (525388) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223911)

but it's so much more exciting to give them $4mil and pray it works the day it goes live, untested.

Re:Can't do it by hand (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224135)

I have some doubts that the recipient of a 4.1 million dollar software contract would provide it's source code to a group of high school "computer science students." That is pretty funny though. I'm picturing a bunch of skinny jeans-wearing kids with floppy hair "working out the bug."

What have they been doing all summer (3, Informative)

mpapet (761907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223901)

Well, let's see.... At the top of the list is not working because they aren't paid over the summer.

This is a particularly annoying version of complaining about inferior service when, in fact, you are the one who funds that service.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (0, Troll)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223969)

That might be a valid complaint if, in fact, we paid for these schools voluntarily. Anyone who pays taxes (most people) pays for schools, whether they like it or not. Failure to pay those taxes will result in the police coming to kidnap you and lock you in a cage. Failure to comply with the demand to be locked in a cage can result in serious injury or even death.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224111)

That might be a valid complaint if, in fact, we paid for these schools voluntarily. Anyone who pays taxes (most people) pays for schools, whether they like it or not. Failure to pay those taxes will result in the police coming to kidnap you and lock you in a cage. Failure to comply with the demand to be locked in a cage can result in serious injury or even death.

I can't speak for Prince George County - but many places the school system is paid by property taxes.
And they don't lock you up for failing to pay property taxes, they make liens against the property that are paid when the property is sold. (and if the liens are large enough, they may be able to force the property to be sold depending on the locale)

No cages, no injury, no death.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224123)

What does this teenage-Randian rant have to do with the parent comment? The article asks what schools were doing all summer, and the comment is that they were not working, because they weren't employed. Your argument that they shouldn't have ever been employed because omg RON PAUL isn't actually relevant to that point.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (5, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224479)

RON PAUL is always relevant.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224141)

My tax dollars at work. . .Maryland my Maryland. . . .

Re:What have they been doing all summer (4, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224249)

Anyone who pays taxes (most people) pays for schools, whether they like it or not.

Actually I believe in many areas, schools are funded by property taxes, which not everyone pays.

Failure to pay those taxes will result in the police coming to kidnap you and lock you in a cage.

When it comes to property taxes, if you want the government-run police to enforce your government-issued deed to your home (on land whose ownership chain rests on some sort of government conquest), I don't think you have much philosophical basis for objecting to paying up. If you want to play the property game, ante up and pay your taxes.

And think it's awfully rare for them to point guns at you for back taxes, unless you're engaging in some sort of fraud. They just seize your bank accounts. If you don't have enough in your bank accounts, they might seize stock assets (in corporations created by government charter) or real estate assets (see above). But the days of capitation taxes, where the government comes along and says "pay me $20 a head or go to jail", are long over.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224487)

Actually I believe in many areas, schools are funded by property taxes, which not everyone pays.

Either you own your own home, in which case you pay property taxes, or you rent, in which case your landlord uses part of your rent money to pay his property taxes. In Canada, only the homeless, and natives on reserves, don't pay property taxes.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224303)

Of course we also are forced to pay taxes so that unproductive old people can lay about the house, leaving only to collect astronomically priced prescriptions to which they feel they have become entitled, paid for the young people who are never going to see a penny from the social security system. They also complain about having to pay for schools. Like schools, the ingrained special interests prevent any reform that will save the taxpayer money, citing not the need for profit by the multinationals, but the idea that no amount of money is too much to extend life a single moment, even if bankrupts the country.

To reply to the OP, some persons at the school are 12 month employees, but even those have likely have no control over the scheduling software. Generally software is mandated for an entire district/province/principality, and the local staff just have to make do. Often software is written from an abstract perspective,with no notion of the specific issues that can occur in the instantiated case. Likely the people who speced and developed the software missed some tiny but critical issue.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (4, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224349)

In fact, while public school teachers are typically not paid during the summer(whether this counts as "vacation" or "unemployment" depends on how much they are paid the rest of the year and/or who they've married); but it is pretty common to have at least a subset of admin and support staff on site year round. Some of it is just salary padding fluff, I'm sure; but there is a lot of real work to do at a school over the summer.

Schedules get made up(well, usually), buildings get cleaned and repaired, IT projects that would be too disruptive for the year(or take too much of the IT staff's time when they also have to deal with user support) get done, pallets of textbooks, paper, lightbulbs, etc. get moved about.

I'm not too surprised by this story, really. You see errors at least as flagrant in much higher profile corporate and government projects, so it isn't like IT deployments crashing and burning is all that uncommon, even among people with deep pockets who should know better. In a school, you've probably got a more or less bare bones staff of IT, who spend most of their time doing basic support, working with some horribly crufty abomidation from a vendor who deserves to die for their programming sins; but also has years of experience building software that caters to the specific needs of school systems(Sure, anybody, right down to that 15 year old who just discovered LAMP and sourceforge, could build a better frontend, and better DB backends are given away in the backs of "learn linux for morons in 10 minutes" books; but software that promises to automatically send out report card notifications to parents in a manner that correctly navigates the laws for information disclosure/nondisclosure when you have one or more divorced/separated/custodial/noncustodial/court-appointed-guardian/whatever parents in the picture? Not so common). It's more or less a matter of time before something bad happens.

Re:What have they been doing all summer (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224499)

Many teachers ARE paid over the summer. In VA and MD (my sister is a teacher who worked in both states) teachers are given a choice of a 12 month or 10 month pay cycle. The 10 month pay cycle do not get paid over the summer while the 12 month does. Most people take the 12 month cycle so they can plan their bills accordingly. Since the school administrators are in the school over the summer, I would say they are getting paid as well.

This looks like a case of someone forgot to test something. A full load test should have been done. I remember getting my school schedule the first full week of August. Why was this issue not known a few weeks or a month ago?

Re:What have they been doing all summer (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224831)

Not that any bank is paying interest worth much these days but you'd have to be a dolt to take the 12mo cycle. Why would you not want to get that 2mo salary spread into the first 10 so you could collect the interest on it sooner.

How hard is it really to figure out what your salary would be if you had taken it over 12mo and plan your spending and expenses accordingly while you make a few extra bones in interest?

Its simple division most adults should be able to do in their heads!

Re:What have they been doing all summer (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224521)

Well, let's see.... At the top of the list is not working because they aren't paid over the summer.

Rubbish. Teaches in Texas (which I'm assuming this is at since they mentioned Bowie High School) get paid year round, even if they don't work over the summer. It's one of the few benefits of being a teacher in the public school system.

Doesn't suprise me (1)

Hadlock (143607) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223907)

Prince George's County "Upper Marlboro Schools" is a complete clusterfuck. You should see their purchasing department, they will quote for the city of "Mpper Marlboro" and give the shipping and bill to for a building completely unreleated to the billing or shipping address, and then have it deliver to one of the 500 cities in the district. They never, ever include shipping costs and the shipping address is wrong half the time. Do I have a beef with UMS? Noooo not at all.

Re:Doesn't suprise me (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224371)

Prince George's County "Upper Marlboro Schools" is a complete clusterfuck.

Prince George's County *anything* is a complete clusterfuck. You should see their police. Hope you have medical insurance, and a good lawyer. With the latter, you might actually make a good profit out of the encounter.

Re:Doesn't suprise me (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224617)

Prince George's County *anything* is a complete clusterfuck.

The P.G. County slogan: Making Montgomery County look better for three generations! (at least)

Happened in Dallas ISD too (5, Interesting)

trybywrench (584843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223909)

My wife teaches Journalism at a low income high school in Dallas. A few days before school started she was worried about scheduling and so were her coworkers since an online system they're suppose to be using had no schedules in it. Her first day was met with 60 kids in one of her Journalism class, only 5 had orginially signed up. This is a very poor school ripe with gangs which have to be kept apart but with the scheduling farked all the kids were all mixed together. She was in tears on the phone with me worried that if a fight broke out she wouldn't be able to get out of her room since she has to cross the entire class to get from her desk to the door. Her school won't let her carry a concealed weopen, I want her to carry my pistol but I'm afraid if she gets caught with it there would be criminal charges filed.

The second day she submitted about 200 schedule changes to the counselors and had managed to get her class size down to 40. Any known bad kids she just told to leave her class, they just leave school and never come back (the first week or so is the worst then the trouble makers just stop showing up).

Today she showed 1/2 her students a video and tried to teach the other half, I'm guessing she'll do the same tomorrow but switch halves.

As of right now next Monday is declared a "do over first day of school" and the schedules are promised to be fixed. No one believes it though.

Re:Happened in Dallas ISD too (1)

StreetStealth (980200) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224031)

This has to be pretty common. A very similar thing happened to me in high school. Some (presumably database-related) error caused a handful of 70-student classes, and I remember sitting with my gargantuan history class out in the student commons as they figured out how to re-parcel out the class rosters.

The kicker? This was ten years ago. Why is it still happening?

Re:Happened in Dallas ISD too (2, Interesting)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224187)

Why is it still happening?

Because a significant portion (not all) of the population is unwilling to pay for adequate education. Because a significant portion (not all) of parents are disinterested in what their kids do. Because a significant faction in American politics believes there should be no public education at all and so do everything possible to sabotage it, including packing boards of public education.

The same thing is going on in public universities. I had a history class at UT Austin with 700+ students packed into an auditorium with 600 seats. No questions allowed, as there would be no time to answer them.

Re:Happened in Dallas ISD too (0, Troll)

rho (6063) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224275)

Because a significant portion (not all) of the population is unwilling to pay for adequate education.

You're an idiot if you don't think we're spending enough money on education.

Because a significant faction in American politics believes there should be no public education at all and so do everything possible to sabotage it, including packing boards of public education.

Never mind, you're not a fool, you're a paranoid.

Re:Happened in Dallas ISD too (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224409)

Never mind, you're not a fool, you're a paranoid.

Well, your personal attacks aside, I'm just calling them as I see them. Check out the more 'conservative' members on the Texas SBOE. You should try addressing issues instead of just shouting people down, unfortunately uninformative posts like your reflect the current approach to public matters of angry people with nothing to say or contribute.

Probably for the best... (1)

sweatyboatman (457800) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224049)

Her school won't let her carry a concealed weopen [sic], I want her to carry my pistol but I'm afraid if she gets caught with it there would be criminal charges filed.

...because "Teacher Kills Student During Class" is just such a terrific headline.

Re:Probably for the best... (1)

e9th (652576) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224159)

I think "Teacher kills Harris & Klebold [wikipedia.org] " would have been a pretty spiffy headline.

Re:Probably for the best... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224327)

I guess "Student Kills Teacher During Class" is preferable.

Re:Happened in Dallas ISD too (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224191)

This is a very poor school ripe with gangs which have to be kept apart but with the scheduling farked all the kids were all mixed together. She was in tears on the phone with me worried that if a fight broke out she wouldn't be able to get out of her room since she has to cross the entire class to get from her desk to the door.

That sounds horrible, and I admire anyone who works in a situation like that. Wow, just, wow.

Can she rearrange the room? I.e. move her desk to the opposite side, and move the kids' chairs to the other side of the tables. I assume the worst kids sit at the back, so this would benefit everyone.

Her school won't let her carry a concealed weopen, I want her to carry my pistol but I'm afraid if she gets caught with it there would be criminal charges filed.

Your/her situation is a world away from anything I've ever experienced, but it's not uncommon here for people carrying weapons "just in case" to mess up when they panic and try and use them.

Reality Check (1)

clarkn0va (807617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223929)

'When I heard they didn't have schedules, I was like, "What have they been doing all summer?"'

Enjoying their vacation?

This is high school? (2, Interesting)

codepigeon (1202896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29223971)

FTA

My daughter "selected a sewing class because she is interested in fashion design, but the school selected a basic piano class"

What kind of high school is THIS? We were lucky to have basic computer classes when i was in high school. Sewing and piano? Spoiled bastards.

Re:This is high school? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224035)

Sewing and piano have been around a while. A lot longer than computer classes. ;)

Re:This is high school? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224103)

No kidding. How about this one

"Clemons's daughter also chose a business-career class but was assigned to a human sexuality and family life class, a course she had taken in ninth grade, Clemons wrote.

Why does a high school have a human sexuality class in ninth grade? Seems a little premature to me. Sex ed day sure, but a full semester/quarter about sex should probably should wait until college years.

Re:This is high school? (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224181)

"Clemons's daughter also chose a business-career class but was assigned to a human sexuality and family life class, a course she had taken in ninth grade, Clemons wrote.

Makes sense to me. Learning about business should involve going over the oldest profession. Let's hope that they go over why "the lowest bidder" isn't always the one you should select, though.

Re:This is high school? (1)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224263)

If it's anything like the "human sexuality and family life" class I took in high school, it's basically a class on how babies are made for about the first couple of days (which is review, because the first time I was told that in a school setting was an hour-long health class in fifth grade), and the rest of it is teaching you how much of a royal pain in the ass it is to raise kids. The overall idea is to teach kids how to survive if they do have kids of their own, and to convince them doing so is so monumentally difficult that they'd really better wait until they're both out of college and independently wealthy.

Re:This is high school? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224373)

Wasting that much instructional time seems silly at any point; but 9th grade can easily include 15 year olds. On a broad historical basis, a fair few of the world's total 15 year olds have been married. Even today, a bit of "extracurricular activity" at that age isn't at all uncommon, whatever parents might like(and it isn't just 15 year olds, though things go from being merely precocious to being downright dodgey increasingly rapidly.).

Re:This is high school? (5, Funny)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224277)

What kind of high school is THIS? We were lucky to have basic computer classes when i was in high school. Sewing and piano? Spoiled bastards.

My high school had sewing and piano, those classes were held on Thursdays (aka "foie gras and caviar day" at the cafeteria, between yachting class and equestrianism.

Ha, actually I am a proud product of the New York City public school system, where we counted ourselves lucky if the history books were published late enough to let us know when WW2 ended.

Re:This is high school? (1)

Niris (1443675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224313)

Bah, we didn't even have computer classes, and I was class of '06. Poor school district FTW. Our options for electives were a PE class, or foreign languages. Learning was only something that happened if you wanted to do stuff at home.

Solution (3, Funny)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224001)

Send the programmers and administrators to detention!!

School doesn't work like you think. (5, Informative)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224007)

'When I heard they didn't have schedules, I was like, "What have they been doing all summer?"'

I suspect the schools don't run the scheduler until a few days before school actually starts - Teachers can die (happened my senior year), quit, not show up for work, classrooms may be unavailable for many reasons, etc... On top of this, they don't actually know how many students are going to show up until registration closes (typically a week before class starts).

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (2, Funny)

PerZon (181675) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224223)

So what your saying is if the job is too hard, don't worry about it till the last minute? To me its just another poor example left by the peers of our future. Next they will all go on strike for poor working conditions...

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (1, Insightful)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224281)

No, I'm saying it makes no sense to do a job in June that will have to redone at least once (if not more) in August.

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224589)

No, I'm saying it makes no sense to do a job in June that will have to redone at least once (if not more) in August.

Sure it does, it's called a dry run. Especially since this is a fairly new system. But just because something makes sense or is prudent doesn't mean people will do it, as we have seen.

But then again to the people running this it seems that going from spending 5-10 minutes per schedule to 45 minutes is some sort of improvement, so I guess we can't expect too much from them now can we.

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224595)

Bullshit. When all the work is done by a computer program it makes tons of sense. You put in the provisional information and run the scheduler. You look at the output and sanity check. This will help to identify problems with the provisional input. As events occur over the summer you make changes, and occasionally re-run the scheduler. Once registration closes and your data is pretty much solid, you make your final changes and run the scheduler one more time. By this time you've already vetted the provisional data several times and verified that the scheduler can produce good output, so chances are good that your final schedule will come out on time and without problems. If there are problems, then it's likely due to the latest changes, so you know where to start looking.

And yes, I am a scheduler, albeit not for a school, but for a smaller organization. I have a custom program which handles my scheduling for me, and I follow exactly this procedure. Unlike schools, which do this once over the summer, I have to do these schedules several times a year. Waiting until all the data has solidified before you do any runs of your scheduling program is just asking for disaster.

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224449)

So what your saying is if the job is too hard, don't worry about it till the last minute? To me its just another poor example left by the peers of our future. Next they will all go on strike for poor working conditions...

I truly hope English isn't your native tongue.

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (1)

iHal (1213402) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224309)

Thanks for making the point in such a polite way, I was going to tell Carolyn Oliver to go do it herself if she thinks it's so easy ; - )

Re:School doesn't work like you think. (1)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224397)

Perhaps they should consider this newest of all concepts.... QA

Holding spaces? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224053)

When school opened Monday, about 8,000 high school students had no class schedules and were sent to wait in holding spaces while administrators tried to sort things out."

Mooooooo...

Health Class video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224171)

1. Install hidden cameras all over high school gym interior.
2. Lock 200 hormonal teenagers in that gym together with nothing better to do for hours on end.
3. ???
4. Profit!

This is all Robert's fault. (5, Insightful)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224227)

http://xkcd.com/327/ [xkcd.com] That fuckin' kid. :|

Re:This is all Robert's fault. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224453)

Where's the insightful mod on this one?

Using Common Sense...? (4, Interesting)

sampson7 (536545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224267)

I guess I have this idealistic vision of what should happen here. Conregate the students and ask, "Who's took Algebra last year?" Take the first 20 (okay, 30) student who raise their hand, lead them to math class. "Who's in 9th Grade and hasn't had English yet?" Lead another group away. "Who took chemistry....? Biology...?" I know, it would never be that easy, but I still have some idealistic vision that a group of adults could really teach something; after all, the teachers are just as much victims of this as the students.

Also, keep in mind, this is Prince George's County -- a jurisdiction that in the 1970s capped property taxes at then-existing levels, and allowed only minimal increases since. Combine that with a high population of at-risk students, large pockets of poverty, serious struggles with drugs and crime in the community -- and you have a recipe for disaster. At some level, the people of Prince George's County get the educational system they pay for. And they are cheap, so the fact that they don't have the computer resources that they need is entirely par for the course (sadly).

That's intelligent (1)

improfane (855034) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224501)

That method you propose is pretty efficient. I would extend it to take names of students leftover and then they could get into trouble for trying to avoid classes.

This is what happens when we adopt and embrace technology as a method to solve all our problems. Computers are nothing without the right people to maintain them. (They're sociotechnical systems, you cannot have one without the other)

I do wonder how complex a scheduling system is: does anyone have any experience in writing this kind of software? Isn't it a variant of fitting objects into space in the most efficient way?

Re:Using Common Sense...? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224531)

They paid $4 million for something that didn't work, so I don't think the problem is limited to how much funding they have.

Re:Using Common Sense...? (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224571)

You don't know kids, do you?

Fuckers are enjoying not having class.
If you asked them "Who took class A last year?" You'd get a group of kids who would raise their hands. If you asked "Who didn't take class A last year" you'd get another group, but the groups would overlap.

Re:Using Common Sense...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224767)

I guess I have this idealistic vision of what should happen here. Conregate the students and ask, "Who's took Algebra last year?" Take the first 20 (okay, 30) student who raise their hand, lead them to math class.

Don't you mean lead them to english class so they can learn why "who's took" is meaningless? Why lead them to math class when they've already taken algebra? And what do they do for second period? And third?

Yes, this is an idealistic vision.

Also, keep in mind, this is Prince George's County -- a jurisdiction that in the 1970s capped property taxes at then-existing levels, and allowed only minimal increases since.

I live in a jurisdiction like that. State referendum capping property taxes. Funny how property values went up enough the very next year so that property taxes still went up more than they would have without the cap.

The problem with the schools is not a lack of money. Throwing money at schools does not improve education, it only makes schools want more thrown at them.

i hear they're not going to bury ted kenney... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29224365)

they're going to flush him. what a fucking turd.

The kids are finally getting a chance to learn... (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29224381)

Words by John Taylor Gatto, 1991 New York State Teacher of the Year:

http://www.newciv.org/whole/schoolteacher.txt [newciv.org]
"The second lesson I teach is your class position. I teach that you must stay in class where you belong. I don't know who decides that my kids belong there but that's not my business. The children are numbered so that if any get away they can be returned to the right class. Over the years the variety of ways children are numbered has
increased dramatically, until it is hard to see the human being plainly under the burden of numbers he carries. Numbering children is a big and very profitable business, though what the strategy is designed to
accomplish is elusive. I don't even know why parents would allow it to be done to their kid without a fight.
In any case, again, that's not my business. My job is to make them like it, being locked in together with children who bear numbers like their own. Or at the least endure it like good sports. If I do my
job well, the kids can't even imagine themselves somewhere else because I've shown how to envy and fear the better classes and how to have contempt for the dumb classes. Under this efficient discipline the class mostly polices itself into good marching order. That's the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place."

http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm [johntaylorgatto.com]
"The shocking possibility that dumb people don't exist in sufficient numbers to warrant the millions of careers devoted to tending them will seem incredible to you. Yet that is my central proposition: the mass dumbness which justifies official schooling first had to be dreamed of; it isn't real."

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