There are close to 5,000 employees who work for the Salem-Keizer School District, so it comes as an annual surprise when such a very tiny number of them are given special recognition by way of the Crystal Apple Award. Surely, with all the millions upon millions of dollars spent through taxation here in the effort to provide a public education to thousands upon thousand of local children there would be more among those employed than the 13 in 2016 recognized as outstanding.
Since the psychology of honoring only 13 is so negative one would think that special consideration would be given to the hardworking, dedicated and often relatively low paid among all those district employees. Most certainly it would seem more fitting if each school, elementary, middle and high, held an annual event giving recognition to everyone who works there. Perhaps a small budgeted amount could be set aside to be used by each school’s parent group to cater a luncheon or dinner to honor all who work there. Perhaps next year, instead of the superintendent receiving a huge salary increase for nothing deserving it except keeping up with other districts’ superintendents pay, that money could be spent to give the many other employees something to honor them.
Further, the choice of persons to receive a Crystal Apple are apparently chosen based on the most subjective and random of criteria. Are these people honored because they provided special enrichment to the lives of the children in our schools or is it because they did something, or many things, special for the person or persons who nominated them? Then, from the several more nominated, how is it that a mere handful find their way to the top of the heap? Again, it’s surmised to be so politically personal as to be distastefully repugnant and disrespectful to everyone else.
My wife and I attended a Crystal Apple Award ceremony about a dozen years ago. We noticed in the first place that it was rather costly to purchase the tickets and that most likely many another interested person or family in this community would find it too expensive just to show up. Then, too, from the standpoint of people dressed to the “nines,” some in tuxedos and evening gowns, how many among us can afford the necessary attire to show up and be generally accepted as dressed appropriately for the occasion. It seemed mainly to be an event where the district’s well-heeled power elites could strut their stuff and make a power statement. We decided we wouldn’t attend another one.
(Gene H. McIntyre’s column appears weekly in the Keizertimes.)