Shaddup Already!


Jumping Through Hoops

Okay, so that comic is about No Child Left Behind and my hoop jumping story is about National Board Certification. They're two different breeds of the same animal, I suppose--the buracracy of the teaching field.

I have barely begun my journey toward National Board Certification and I already have a bit of a migraine over it.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a state that pays 90% of the fees for the certification. That is a big deal considering that the fee is $2300. However, in order to receive the grant help, you have to do things in a particular way.

I went, like a good little teacher, to the district office to get the directions they indicated one MUST have in order to apply correctly. These directions were pretty useless, but who was I to complain? I mean seriously, here the state is willing to pay out $2070 on my behalf. So what do I care if my district is fairly useless?

It said that you had to fill in the application, there were certain things that had to be filled in just so on the application, and once that was done you would get a confirmation page.

This confirmation page would hold valuable information about being a Florida candidate and the all important link to the online promissory note. Without the promissory note (filled out online because they no longer accept paper applications) the state would provide no money.

I apply, pay my application fee ($65) and get my confirmation page. No where is there a link to this promissory note, nor are there specific requirements listed for FL teachers.

However, I do not panic. Mostly because I'm pretty computer saavy and I figure I can find the PN without much trouble. I go to the state incentives link, find FL (it's easy, it sticks out at the bottom, you know) and find the list of requirements. Yay! I think. I have found the golden PN.

There are no links to the PN!

It mentions it a few times, indicates that it MUST be filled out online, but doesn't tell you how to get there.

I spent about 40 minutes looking in all the places I could think of; the National Board site, FL DOE site, under my couch; but I couldn't find the damned link. So I did what any rational person in my situation would do--I cried. . .

. . .and screamed. . .

. . .and cussed a little. . .

. . .okay, a lot.

Then I clicked on the link for the contact person at the DOE. I sent her a pleasant email respectfully requesting that she send me the link to the site.

And I waited.

No emails came in response, so I thought while I was waiting, I would call my district office. I left a message on the voicemail of the person to whom the operator connected me. And then I waited.

Two or three days later, I receive an email from the district office--someone completely different from the person I spoke to. The email went something like this:

"You HAVE to get the district information packet. Did you, you moron? If you still have trouble contact So-and-so."

Okay, if I need to contact So-and-so to get more information why in the Hell didn't So-and-so contact me to begin with? Oy!

Anyway, I send an email back and CC it to So-and-so. I ever so respectfully stated that I had the packet, I followed the directions to the letter and there was no active link to the PN.

And then I began to panic. I could stand not getting Nationally Board certified this year, but $65 is not something I can just throw away. I don't have the money to do that. $65 to a teacher in the lowest paid district in the area that still doesn't have a contract for this school year is a LOT of money. And I knew I wouldn't be getting it back if I didn't complete the process.

So I came home, cried some more, then sent an email to a Nationally Board Certified teacher listed as a state contact on the NBCT website. And I finally got a polite response from someone. It went something like this:

"I understand your frustration and I have forwarded your email to FL-DOE contact. I wish you the best in this professional endeavor."

Okay, so it wasn't helpful, but at least it was polite and seems to have a semblance of caring in it. So I didn't email her back and tell her that I had already emailed FL-DOE contact and she hadn't gotten back to me yet. It wasn't this woman's fault and I was not going to take it out on her.

But that didn't stop my panic and worry. I had now gone to every FL link I could find to the National Board certification stuff and it had gotten me nowhere.

Until today.

That's when I got the link!

Within a matter of five minutes I had the damned thing filled out and my 10% of the fees paid. Seriously, what was so fricking difficult about sending someone a link?

Did they need to check my background and make sure I'm not an idiot? Maybe they wanted to make sure I haven't written any racially offensive letters to politicians lately. Or maybe they thought I was making it up and the link was there all the time. Who knows. I'm just glad I've jumped through this hoop, but I'm heading out to buy new shoes with springs in them because I have a feeling I shall be jumping through lots of hoops soon. I seriously can't wait until they set them on fire first.

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