That’s not to say I got an interview there. Far from it.
What I did get, which shows they’ve actually tweaked the system a bit this year down at the DoE, is a letter telling me that the vacancy no longer exists, that it’s either been filled or removed from the school’s budget. I guess you could call this progress, that something was trying to communicate with me, if only a machine.
Also new this year is an acknowledgment you’re sent for each school you’ve applied to. Here's what one looks like, with the specifics redacted.
Dear Open Market Applicant:
Thank you very much for submitting your application to our school through the Open Market Hiring System. This email is being sent to you to confirm that your Open Market application has been received by the following school:
99 X999 – Name of School
Please note that you may be contacted directly at a later date if further information is required from you or you are being invited for an interview. Also, please note that an email notification also would be sent to you in the event that another candidate has been selected for an opening at our school. You may continue to submit applications to other schools in the Open Market Hiring System through August 7, 2008.
Thank you very much for your interest in our school.
Notice it's signed by the Principal, but think about that for a moment.
We know that the Open Market computers have received our applications, ergo this form letter, but we don’t really know if the school itself ever received a darn thing. This letter is not, after all, coming from any flesh-and-blood principal: 11 of them would hardly be in a position to acknowledge the receipt of my 11 online applications immediately and all at the same time. In other words, an electronic fabrication, and we trust this letter and this application process about as much as we trust anything else this chancellor puts out, which amounts to zip.
When I went online a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t get the Open Market computers to accept my new cover letter or provide a place to insert my additional school choices, I guessed the system was actually down. There was a red alert message running the width of the screen that told me to try again later. Depressingly, it managed to contain one spelling error (guys, it’s “retrieve,” not “retreive”) and one grammatical error (“sometime” is not interchangeable with “some time,” two words).
It’s possible, by the way, that the text on the Open Market computers is being handled by the same kinds of proofreaders (newbies or grad students perhaps, people who don't cost too much) that they got to vet an exam the kids took this week. Published by McGraw-Hill, the DoE's partner in the New Order's test industry (see Acuity, but with more perspective at the Huffington Post), the exam had a word missing in the opening section. A citation was missing, too, which we knew should have been there because the directions told students to make sure they didn’t overlook it. But, you don’t want to know about all that. Honestly, it would make you ill.
That's what I wrote yesterday. This afternoon, The Chancellor's put up some shocking examples of how McGraw-Hill masticates written English. It'll make you really angry, I warn you, but you have to understand the magnitude of what Klein's been doing in the name of educational reform.
I was also pretty fascinated to discover that a school in the vacancy list that had caught my eye didn't even exist. Nothing but the name was coming up through the school search screen, and a Google search or two reported a budget of $0, but not much else. Why the computer is even listing it is beyond me, and it wasn't the only phantom school showing up in my search.
I don’t think I'm surprised by anything the DoE does anymore. It’s run by a chop-chop businessman, not an educator, someone who’s busy supplanting long-term educators with uncertified grad students, mostly self-professed transients. A rank amateur at promoting scholarship — obviously — he tolerates a level of shoddiness in computer systems, reorganizations, tests and just about everything else he designs that has made our jaws just drop.
If I could talk to the DoE computers, I’d be asking them all kinds of other questions, like these, for example:
I hear principals hold back some positions for the job fairs. When they do, are they holding back just the computer posting or hiding the job altogether, computer or otherwise?
Is it OK for a them not to post a vacancy? If they're holding back vacancies from the Open Market computers, does the DoE know about it? Does it condone this practice? Encourage it? Care?
Can a principal be fined for hiding vacancies and/or creating other kinds of obstacles for job-seekers, particular senior educators?
What does the principal see when he gets your application? Your step? Salary? Age? How much does he have to infer from your resume, and how much is the computer supplying for them in automatically calculated fields?
Why doesn’t the system allow me to upload a formatted resume and cover letter? Doesn't the DoE assume that people with advanced degrees have these documents ready to go, all formatted? Unless someone advises me I'm encountering a Mac problem or there are some upload or format buttons I’ve overlooked, the DoE computers knock out style. You have to re-format your documents in the simplest kind of plaintext to make them readable. What a waste of time, and so easy to design right.
Does the Open Market close down the computers at a specific time during the week for maintenance? If so, when is that, so I can save myself the frustration of multiple fruitless attempts to get it to work?
The way I see it, there’s only one way for a senior ATR to handle all this.
Go online and apply to whatever. Then make yourself a gin-and-tonic, put your feet up, and relax. Nothing will happen with your application. You’ll be subbing back at your old school or somewhere else until you put in for retirement — or until KleinWorld devises another way to push you out of your job.