When I read the latest story about a crazy eyed education reformer that was preaching the inBloom gospel I couldn’t help but remember an absurd product I was forwarded on Facebook to by one of my friends about the Hutzler Banana slicer.

Like inBloom, the Hutzler Banana slicer is a real product . . . except the banana slicer is actually more useful.

This is one of my favorite reviews of this product:

5.0 out of 5 stars Saved my marriage July 30, 2012

By Mrs Toledo

What can I say about the 571B Banana Slicer that hasn’t already been said about the wheel, penicillin, or the iPhone…. this is one of the greatest inventions of all time. My husband and I would argue constantly over who had to cut the day’s banana slices. It’s one of those chores NO ONE wants to do! You know, the old “I spent the entire day rearing OUR children, maybe YOU can pitch in a little and cut these bananas?” and of course, “You think I have the energy to slave over your damn bananas? I worked a 12 hour shift just to come home to THIS?!” These are the things that can destroy an entire relationship. It got to the point where our children could sense the tension. The minute I heard our 6-year-old girl in her bedroom, re-enacting our daily banana fight with her Barbie dolls, I knew we had to make a change. That’s when I found the 571B Banana Slicer. Our marriage has never been healthier, AND we’ve even incorporated it into our lovemaking. THANKS 571B BANANA SLICER!

People actually need to slice bananas occasionally, whereas the problem inBloom addresses is an entirely self-inflicted wound that won’t actually be dressed by the inBloom bandaid, it will actually be made worse.

Companies always try to make their products sound indispensible to consumers, and the arguments being made about the benefits of inBloom to parents and districts is no different than any number of ridiculous claims and fixes you can see advertised on TV after midnight.

Like using a spoon like a human and not a chimpanzee. . .

http://i0.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/497/627/b5b.gif

Or pouring a drink for the family without spilling soda over your entire family. . . again. . . Oh Mom!

http://i2.kym-cdn.com/photos/images/original/000/495/030/396.gif

Cynthia Stevenson is a perfect example of someone creating her own problem and then looking for a magic solution to a problem of her own making and incompetence.

Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of Jefferson County, Colo., public schools, heard about a data repository called inBloom, she thought it sounded like a technological fix for one of her bigger headaches. Over the years, the Jeffco school system, as it is known, which lies west of Denver, had invested in a couple of dozen student data systems, many of which were incompatible.

What kind of superintendent or leadership purchases dozens of systems to track student information, let alone dozens of systems that are incompatible and can’t communicate with each other? Not only is that practice extremely wasteful (and a little crazy), but enabling that to continue sounds like complaining that your head it too itchy because you have too many head lice and believing the solution is to get a larger skull to reduce your lice per square inch of skull ratio, than to simply get rid of the head lice.

In fact, there were so many information systems — for things like contact information, grades and disciplinary data, test scores and curriculum planning for the district’s 86,000 students — that teachers had taken to scribbling the various passwords on sticky notes and posting them, insecurely, around classrooms and teachers’ rooms.

There must be a more effective way, Dr. Stevenson felt.

Uh, yeah, you would think that wouldn’t ya?

Do you ever talk to your IT folks, Cynthia?

You don’t buy dozens of incompatible systems for starters. If you do, you don’t buy another system to send all the data from your dozens of systems to, at additional cost and without any security for your parents and students. You link your passwords and logins together using Active Directory if you are using Microsoft products, or you use OS X Mountain Lion or later for you Apple systems. Once a teacher has logged in to any system with a single password then they are logged into all their systems for that day. If you have 2 dozen systems that are simply collecting data entered by your teachers and staff, guess what, Cynthia? They still have to do that. Now your IT staff has to build XML export files for all of your systems and load and verify that data on inBloom in addition to all their other projects you have them doing. You have to use system resources to extract and submit those files or you need to allow an external vendor access to all of your servers and databases to pull that information whenever they want. You have to continue to maintain that framework when any of your 2 dozen systems is updated, and if you don’t the new fancy reports you rely on from inBloom will be worthless or at least less accurate than the reports you get from the source systems.

There Cynthia, I just saved you half a million dollars in annual inBloom fees, not to mention a lot of angry parents and legitimate lawsuits.

Do you really have no IT staff that told you this?

Do you think that just because you think you have the best of intentions, anything you do must be right and you can ignore everyone who disagrees?

Were you impressed by the flashy lights and fancy sales people from inBloom who told you what a brilliant visionary you were for agreeing to pioneer this inBloom Hustle, which is little more than a romanticized Hutzler Banana slicer?

I know many people are dazzled by new technology and want to be thought of as technologically savvy. I’m sure inBloom came in and gave you a line that sounded pretty good, and made you think you really needed their stuff and you really knew your stuff for agreeing with them. I imagine the presentation went something like this presentation of the Hutzler Banana Slicer to an assortment of curious wild monkeys.

At least, I sure hope that’s all that is going on here. Because Cynthia, if you were not simply out of your league on the IT aspect of this project, then you are intentionally misleading the parents you serve and harming the children you are supposed to protect. I would withdraw from this real life IT infomercial you’ve landed yourself in and work with you IT folks to build some real solutions. Whoever is buying dozens of incompatible software packages is costing you a lot of money and lost productivity. If that is you, then the best IT decision you can make going forward is to not make any more IT decisions and leave those decisions to someone more qualified. . .like a monkey.

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11 thoughts on “inBloom is the IT equivalent to the Hutzler Banana Slicer

  1. funny that a techie like Jason has this take on it and all these non-techy, and thus impressionable, types are all-in whole-hog on this newfangled whizbang schtuff. Really well-done, especially the Most Interesting Man In the World image– now THAT’s funny.

    1. I like technology. I work in the technology sector. Privacy is one of my/our utmost concerns. I intensely dislike the misuse of it and cavalier attitude toward privacy and safety. Call it a pet peeve.

      1. Understood, agreed and appreciated. And meanwhile the non-techies are susceptible to the newest fangled bright shining “cutting edge” objects.

  2. I wonder who thought of the dumb name InBloom. It sounds like a synonym for puberty or for a female’s time of the month. I’ll leave it to others to make the jokes now.

  3. Cc,

    With all due respect, you’re a moron.

    1) InBloom is free for schools. It’s a non-profit organization.
    2) OS X Mountain Lion is an operating system, not a system like active directory
    3) JeffCo is not the only school that has this problem. Sit in any school back office in the country and you will see most of the time people are just working in excel reconciling data. It’s just where the industry is.

    Next time use this tool first, it’s really cool: google.com

    Peace.

    Mike

    1. Lol. Thanks for the tips Mike. I can tell from your vast knowledge of the situation you may work for Jeffco or inBloom and therefore probably have no real IT knowledge or common sense, so I will go easy on you this time.

      1)
      a) inBloom will cost students and parents greatly in lost privacy and exploitation. Additionally “InBloom is now free but will start charging participating states or school districts annual fees of $2 to $5 per student in 2015, bringing in millions of dollars that officials at the nonprofit say will cover expenses for developing and maintaining the database.”
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/05/29/us-usa-education-database-idUSBRE94S0YU20130529
      http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/03/us-education-database-idUSBRE92204W20130303 (I am quoted in this article, you however, are not.)
      b) Believe it or not, nonprofit organizations still make money and charge fees and can pay their CEO’s millions of dollars a year. You may recall that many Home Health Care companies were run as non-profits in the 90s and small mom and pop operations used their “surplus revenues” to buy or charter private jets, invest in rare art, pay for luxurious Aspen and Caribbean retreats, and employed the entire family for 6 figure salaries – including children than just ran errands. Non-profit means it has a tax exempt status and legally has no profits and thus pays no taxes although they can have surplus revenues.
      2)
      I am aware OS X Mountain Lion is an operating system which I why I referred to it as a “system” short for operating system. Incidentally Active Directory is not a “system.” Active Directory (AD) is a directory service implemented by Microsoft for Windows domain networks. It is included in most Windows Server operating systems. The OS in OS X stands for Operating System, has similar built in functionality for integrating various applications platforms, like Active Directory, (which is still not an OS)
      3)
      I never said JeffCo was the only school [district] that had this problem. I did say or imply it was idiotic, unnecessary, poorly planned, and wasteful. I worked with over 100+ school district data shops in Louisiana for close to 10 years. I am well aware of the conditions in some. I still feel fairly confident that the practices and situations described by Cynthia, in her own words, are foolish wasteful and sadly not at all atypical. That does not mean the solution is buying yet another program to add to the mix that will also need to be reconciled using excel spreadsheets, especially when the judicious application of available free technology is readily available, and a cohesive and well thought out internal technology acquisition plan is obviously so desperately needed rather than a brainless jumping off a bridge, slicing a tomato with a sledgehammer approach Cynthia is advocating here.

      FYI, I am well aware of the Googles. Perhaps you should learn how to use hyperlinks on the interwebs before making such a prominent jackass of yourself.

      Since you obviously can’t or won’t use them I will copy and paste the text for you: “In computing, a hyperlink (or link) is a reference to data that the reader can directly follow, or that is followed automatically. A hyperlink points to a whole document or to a specific element within a document”

      I included hyperlinks to document my points so people who were completely ignorant of technology, like yourself, could follow what I was saying. Because I have tracking on what links get clicked from my blog, I can safely say you did not click my helpful links before you submitted your uninformed, although amusing ignorant, rant.

      FYI, if you want people to take you seriously, not only should you have a clue what you are talking about, you should probably not submit your comment using a disposable e-mail service like “Maildrop.” It just makes you look like even more of a tool.

      BTW (By the Way)
      My degree is in accounting
      I work at a non-profit now, and worked in the Home Health industry in the 90s
      I am an IT worker and have done stints as Programmer/Database Administrator/Business Analyst/System Analyst/System Administrator/Data Warehouse Designer/System Architect/Security Administrator/freelance consulting/OS admin/Technical Writer
      I worked with well over 100 school districts for about 9 years as part of a state agency (and still do)
      I have been quoted in a half dozen articles related to inBloom in the past 6 months

      PEACE OUT – fake person name, using a fake disposable e-mail address, to submit false information, falsely.

  4. The emperor has no clothes. You just removed the boxers! Well done and thank you for a good laugh in the face of education policy that is a national disgrace – funded by billionaires, implemented by their monkeys.

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