Learning Takes A Big Hit

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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It could only happen in the land of excess that we lovingly refer to as the Valley of (your expletive here) -- home of excess water consumption, excess golf courses, and a newspaper becoming increasingly known for its excessive cover-ups of reality.

Where else but here would a local school district decide to do what the Scottsdale Unified School District recently did -- upgrade many job titles to better reflect, as Superintendent John Baracy puts it, "what we value in the district. We value learning."

Here's what the SUSD has done in the interest of displaying the value it places on learning:

  • Receptionists, those people with barely a high school education who answer the phones and say, "Hey," to visitors, will henceforth be known as Directors of First Impressions.
  • Bus drivers, those retirees who are trying to pick up a few extra bucks to supplement their social security, have been renamed Transporters of Learners.
  • The Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools has become (take a deep breath here) the Executive Director for Elementary Schools and Excelling Teaching and Learning.

We will pause here to let you catch your breath, to wonder what the former Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Schools does anyway, and to wager that this person's new title takes longer to say than it takes to perform his or her duties.

  • The Assistant Superintendent of Personnel is now called the Executive Director of Human Capital. We would suggest the next time Baracy renames this position he employ a dictionary (or should we say Compendium of Word Definitions). Equating employees with capital isn't the way I would show that I value learning.
  • And finally, boys and girls, the former Assistant Superintendent of Support Services, the dude who is in charge of construction and maintenance, now answers to Chief of Facilities and Management for Learners.

Of course, retitling jobs is nothing new. A recent article noted the trend in the 1990s, especially among the cheeky dot-com companies, of giving their top executives titles like Big Cheese, Top Dog and Chief Yahoo. And of course banks are notorious for making people Vice Presidents in lieu of paying them decent salaries.

Intrigued by the idea of giving people titles to inflate their egos, pay them less money, or to raise their self esteem (one SUSD Director of First Impressions thinks her new title is "classy" and "sounds so important"), I Googled "funny job titles." Darned if I didn't hit paydirt in the form of a website called www.bullsh__job.com (yes, you need to put in the "it" to access this site).

It allows you to generate your very own "bullsh__ title" by combining one word from each of three lists. By so doing, I came up with Global Paradigm Producer, Internal Configuration Analyst, and Dynamic Optimization Specialist.

It was fun for a while, but then I got bored and decided to localize the application of fancy job titles.

For example:

  • Mayor of Payson. The leader of the great town of Payson needs a bit more than a title of five letters in front of her name, don't you think? I much prefer something like Grand Exalted Potentate and Olde Tyme Hairdresser Brewer.
  • Town council member. This old title always seemed like a reference to a body part, so some time ago the Roundup switched to calling them councilors. I say it's time for a change to Chief Yapping Legislator and Sovereign Badge Flasher.
  • Gila County Dog catcher. One of my dogs slipped the "surly bonds" of my yard and was arrested recently, so at my place we now refer to the man who caught him as the Colossal County Cur-Mudgeon.
  • Tonto Natural Bridge park ranger. We all can recite the material the bridge is made of, but does anybody really know what travertine is? What if it's toxic? What if it's petrified dinosaur snot. The people who expose themselves to it daily deserve sainthood, or at least to be called Potentates of Travertine Excess.
  • Payson Roundup reporter. At the risk of seeming vain, I'm thinking something along the line of Wizard of Wordsmithing.
  • Rim country Republican. This one's easy. We just lump these people together as Grand Really Old Party members or GROPers.
  • Elks Lodge leader. I was thinking something maybe down a notch from the mayor, but still pretty high and mighty. I mean they do have the highest dead elk in town on their roof. Something like, maybe, Exalted Ruler. But darned if they don't already call their leader that. Truth really can be stranger than fiction.
  • Public Works Director. In the Rim country, he who controls the water has the rest of us by the short hairs. Buzz needs a title befitting his lofty perch. How about Emperor of Fluid Optimization?

As for SUSD Superintendent Baracy, we think he needs a new title, too -- Man With Way Too Much Time on His Hands.

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