Outsourcing a comedy of errors on TV and in PUSD

Note: This column appears in the 6/2 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/3 issue of the Peoria Times

There is a show on TV called “Outsourced,” which is not very funny and also kind of racist. But the show is accurate in that, in real life, being outsourced is just as unfunny and often as discriminatory.

The Peoria Unified School District is considering outsourcing its janitorial staff for the purposes of saving a projected 1.4 million annually. This means, lest we be confused by the gentle connotations and intended hilarity of the term “outsourced,” that Peoria Unified School District is considering laying off 150 workers and hiring instead cheaper labor from an outside company.

Gone will be the days of janitorial staff hired from within, in order to enable them to become a trusted part of the school community. After all, who better to place in a school setting—especially at times when no one else is around—than a person who nobody really knows? I can only imagine that good-natured, sitcom-like hijinks would be the end result.

Board member Diane Douglas was quoted in the Arizona Republic as stating, “I understand classes have to be cleaned but that’s not our major job.” In other words, teaching children is the only major job of a school, and all other jobs are expendable. By following through on this idea, the school district will kill two birds with one stone—save money and execute its major job by teaching children that loyalty within even a school district setting is limited to a budget. After all, why should children know on a personal level the one who has to come clean up their barf? That’s not a major job, and that is not a major person.

Other districts, such as Tolleson Union High School and Scottsdale Unified have outsourced their janitorial staff, according to the Republic, with mixed reviews. Sure, some items go missing from teachers’ desks, but other items are often found and returned. So, basically, items that are stolen are balanced out by the items that are … not stolen? I don’t know. The point is that it works, if you value saving money, but are willing to sacrifice a few personal items here and there, and some sense of community, which is overrated anyway.

Besides, children should know that it’s only unfortunate circumstances that have allowed someone to become a janitorial worker in the first place. Bearing witness to their expendability will only reinforce that they should strive to do something greater and more stable in life, like teaching, or working on Wall Street, or becoming a school board member.

And sure, outsourcing the janitorial staff may lead to an awkward conversation or two initially from children who mistakenly got to know someone. But they’ll get over it.

“Where’s Javier?”

“Oh, he’s uhhh … dead. But meet what’s-his-face! Hey—is that my watch?”
I certainly don’t envy the school board for having to make decisions such as this, but the money’s gotta come from somewhere, right? Hired brooms are cheaper than tenured employees. It’s math, not social studies.


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