Rube Goldberg is a name that will sound vaguely familiar to many of you–but you don’t know why.

Goldberg was born in San Francisco in 1883 and though he graduated from the University of California with a degree in engineering, he gained fame as a newspaper cartoonist.  He was noted for drawing cartoons depicting complicated gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect, convoluted ways, giving rise to the term Rube Goldberg machines.

He even won a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartoons and today there is a national Rube Goldberg machine contest where high school and college teams build contraptions that have to complete a certain task.

For an up close and personal look at some Rube Goldberg machines, go here.

As I’ve poked around in public education for the last decade I have often thought that what education has today morphed into reminds me of a Rube Goldberg device more than anything else.  By this I mean it seems we basically continue to add to and add to whatever we are supposed to be trying to achieve education wise until we end up with an insufferable number of rules, regulations, steps and mis-steps between good intentions and the classroom.

And now, having been appointed to serve on the Montgomery County school board for the next three months and having spent nearly six hours earlier today in a training session about how school boards work, who does what, and the myriad of rules and regulations associated with EVERYTHING, I am thinking more and more of Rube Goldberg.

There are wonderful, intelligent and dedicated professionals doing their damnest to make sure our young people get good educations.  But to this country boy, it appears we have burdened them with more “stuff” than Carter has liver pills.  It seems we are drowning in a typhoon of paperwork and bureaucratizing the process to the point of unreasonableness.

Yes, I know we want to ensure equality and equity and ensure fair treatment to all children and level the playing field as much as possible. but have we gone overboard?  Is it really necessary to Rube Goldberg any and everything?

Were I czar (and trust me, I am not even czar fourth class) I would have all central office personnel at both the local and state level carefully consider every single piece of paper or documentation they handle and ask if schools would cease to function if that form did not exist?

 

 

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