November 23, 2008

Hire a discount windbag

Reading one student paper a few minutes ago reminded me that a number of school districts hire consultants for fairly high prices. Some of them are worth every cent because they perform services that are rarely required but essential. Some of them are highly overpaid. And some of them cost even more in opportunity cost than in the direct cost of hiring someone. (This category is for all of the speakers who must be so fabulous that the district pays all the teachers or staff a day's wage and also uses buses to ship them in to a central place to hear from the Great Guru in person. Feh.)

In these hard times, the practice of hiring windbag-consultants at exorbitant fees must stop. That doesn't mean that school districts can't hire people. They just need to do it reasonably. If I had the time, I would offer my own services as a Certified Ostentatious Windbag (C.O.W.) for any job for which I am qualified at half the going rate of... oh... Willard Daggett.  Heck, I'd do it for a quarter of his going rate. Or less. And one of my conditions would be that I would speak to 150 people at most in the same room. You can connect as many people as you want by intranet, so you only have to carve out the time I'm speaking. 

But unfortunately, at least for the next few months, my time is all spoken for, so if you're a school official or a school board member, you'll have to engage in your own hunt for a discount windbag. If you really need a speaker, take the fee you had carved out in your budget. Chop it in half. Go to a local university. Ask if anyone has the same expertise as your desired, high-concept consultant. Ask if they'd take half the going rate of your consultant. My guess is that you'll have a happy collaborator, someone with at least as much expertise as what you needed, and you'll have saved the public some money at the same time. 

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Posted in Education policy on November 23, 2008 10:08 AM |