Monday, April 28, 2008

Silent, Always-On TV in Westhill High Library

There is an article in today’s Advocate about how Westhill High has a new 50-inch plasma TV hanging above the checkout desk. It cost $1,810 and plays CNN all day with no sound. Now, where else have you seen that? That’s right. In the waiting area at the airport.

Obviously, it’s useless to have that in the media center, unless, for some reason, that’s where kids kill time at Westhill. Even if kids are killing time, they don’t want to do it looking at a silent news show. They want to doodle in their notebooks or work on their laptops.

Some lines from the article prove that the TV is there just to soothe lonely people:

It can be used to show PowerPoint presentations and to advertise school events, [technology management services director Michael Pensiero} said.
A TV is a good idea for ads- duh- but stick it in the school’s main hall if it’s going to be used for that. And who’s going to pull up chairs to the checkout video to watch a power point? I’m sure there’s a place in the computer lab for that. In fact, the librarian confirms that later in the article.

"I wasn't sure how I felt about it at first, and now if I forget to turn it on, and I look over, I feel closed off from the world," [Westhill Head librarian Jan Benedict] said.
Well, if that’s not a clear case of TV keeping a lonely person company, what is? I have no problem giving that person some fake adult company-- I once read that the TV show Friends stimulates the same part of your brain that your real friends do—but a little 20-inch could have fit right on the counter where only she can see it. I don’t begrudge that librarian a TV.

During a mid-day visit to the school last week, dozens of students were typing on computers near the television, almost oblivious to it. TV with the sound off has no interest for teenagers; that’s an adult thing. Westhill needs to reconsider if it's acceptable to use their media center to condition kids to ignore silent, moving images. I'm sure the other high schools in Stamford don't have a plasma in their media center, and I'm sure that other schools could have probably used some new social studies textbooks.

It's the only set in the building hooked up to live television.
"It's our window to the world," Benedict said. "I think it's wonderful."
That concept is 30 years old. TVs aren’t our windows to the world; the internet is. For people over 50 or 55, TV still might provide that. If you are under 45, it’s the internet. 50-inch plasmas are for fun, and the kids at Westhill don’t need silent CNN haunting their every moment in the media center.

The TV- another duh!!!- should be put in the teacher’s lounge. Those are the lonely people stuck with kids all day who need an outside window to the world! (And I have no beef with that. They should have spent 800 bucks to get a 34-inch for the teachers.)


Kevin McKeever said...

My favorite part of the article was where the librarian said the school needed it because Stamford High has one and equity needed to be maintained among the schools.

Son: "Mom! Dad! We need to move to a new school district because Westhill has a 50-inch TV! How will I ever get into Harvard Law if I can't watch Nancy Grace berate lawyers in hi-def when I really should be in remedial geometry class?"

Unknown said...

Do I dare talk about waste????
Of course a 50" plasma TV is nothing compared to the 22% raises.

Stamford Talk said...

Wait, who's getting 22% raises? City employees?

Anonymous said...

You could design an entire blog around how screwed up things are at Westhill. Half the classes are a joke, the administration is lazy and incompetent, the good teachers and counselors (and there are quite a few) deal with so much bureaucratic nonsense it's a miracle they stick around. I have one graduate, one current student, and the tales I could tell...It's hard to work up a head of steam about a television when there is never (no, never) any toilet paper or soap on the bathrooms.

Unknown said...

the 22% raises
STAMFORD - The Personnel Commission last week unanimously approved a controversial proposal to give the mayor, his Cabinet members and other nonunion city employees pay raises.

The action came one year after another set of larger commission-approved pay increases was withdrawn.

If approved by the city's elected boards, the proposal would provide Mayor Dannel Malloy and the town clerk at least 16 percent raises after the next municipal elections next year. Their salaries increase once every two years, in the December of odd-numbered years.

The mayor's salary would rise to $145,700 from $125,181. The town clerk's salary would increase to $101,357 from $87,081.

The city's two registrar of voters, who work part time but are eligible for the same benefits as full-time employees, including health insurance and paid vacation time, would receive at least 22 percent raises in January. Their salaries would increase to $45,610 from $37,315.

The part that inflamed me:
"Members of Malloy's Cabinet and others in the pay plan have received raises that average 2 percent to 3 percent a year since Malloy took office in 1996, while union employees have gotten much more when step increases are factored in, Malloy has said."
step increases should not be used as a marker - they are for new employees and are given each year the employee is with the city for 5 years (should have been set up to be based on performance, but a different story). The Union raises have averaged less than 3% for the past 10 years and less than that if you factor in the % increase in what people pay for insurance (I am not complaining, it is still a good deal). But the mayor needs to get real.

Stamford Talk said...

I have a hard time with numbers; do you mean that the mayor is increasing his pay at a higher rate than other city employees who don't even get the health benefits? That would be rude.

Unknown said...

Okay, I'll slow it down, cool my temper and try to be simple (complicated? not me!) For the past x years all non-union persons have been getting the same 3% raise that all the union people get(my understanding from a union person). The mayor has not been getting that raise, but his other non-union employees have. But they want a general increase of most of those positions of 22% more. Again this was tried last year with a 37% increase that everyone shot down cause of the reeval. They figured this year was quieter and they could pass it. It has already gone through the Board of Finance with Tarzia being the outspoken (when is he not?) critic.