• Dear public school system: charge me more, please

    After reading the following, can you guess what I was doing last night instead of enjoying the Olympics? Also, does this suggest a clerical arbitrage opportunity? I think the transaction costs may kill it. That no such service exists in the market (or does it?) is also informative.

    Dear public school system:

    You seem to want my children’s names, birth dates, entering grades and school, allergies, medications, emergency contacts, and other information multiple times on multiple forms. Would you please compute how much it would cost you if I only provided it once and you duplicated it as necessary. My guess is that cost would be no greater than $25 (clerical staff wage + benefits for under one hour). Now double it ($50, at most). Then offer me the choice of that duplication service for that inflated amount or the experience of doing all the paperwork myself. If I pay for the service (and at $50 I would), you’d make a healthy profit, which you could apply to buying the junk food and non-educational videos you too frequently offer my children. (Sorry, that’s another issue I couldn’t help sneaking in.)

    All the best,

    Austin, father of two


    • I sort of wonder how much the volatility of the data in question is taken into account, or if it’s really just a logistics thing.

      Certain things rarely (or never) change. Name, DoB, Grade Level. But things like legal guardian, allergies, medication, address, etc… it might just be that asking once a year isn’t actually often enough, but it’s all that most people will tolerate (the ones filling it out, and the ones doing all the filing).

      It’s an interesting idea though. I for one love only having to verify my information when I go in to the hospital for any sort of procedure. (but, I guess I do go in more than once a year.. so it’s almost always “verifying” and hardly ever “changing” :D)

      • It’s not the asking multiple times per year (which they don’t do), it’s the asking multiple times at the start of the year within the very same application/registration process. They need the different forms to be filed in different places for different purposes. I get that. I just don’t like doing the paperwork.

    • Dear parent/Tax-Payer,
      You will do what we tell you. You do not set the rules we do. It is easier for us to have you fill it out again and again. If you do not like that you can put your child in a private school but that will cost you about at least $3,000 and we get your $10,000 either way.

      BTW if you think we are bad consider the IRS.

      Signed the school system

      • PS
        Let’s see if take the $3,000 that you would have to pay for a private school and divide it by the number of hours spent filling out the forms and you will see that you are well compensated for you time. Perhaps you could show some gratitude by sending us some of the money we are saving you.

        And BTW even if you are fundamentalist Christan or whatever, we will teach your children evolution because we know much better than you what is good for them.

        The school department

    • Of course, our US healthcare system has been doing this for years. Every time I went to the doctor or dentist, I had a long form with the same information… demographics, allergies, PMH, etc.
      Recently I switched to Kaiser who supposedly have a great EMR… lots more duplicate forms plus verbal rechecking of the information (3 times).
      Hopefully at least they now have the information and I won’t be asked again… (I don’t know, I haven’t been back… fortunately I am healthy and I try to avoid doctors).

    • My kids go to a private school and we are inundated with repetitive forms. Always on paper. If for some reason, it is on computer, it is always in a non-duplicatable form, so you have to fill in the same 2 pages of parent’s occupations, addresses, phone numbers, emergency contacts for each kid.

    • Gee, I wonder why all these places keep doing this?

      Hmm, think it may have anything to do with attorneys?

      Or maybe the fear of meeting an attorney in court?

      Just a thought, anyways.

    • Just responding to your title, I have a story. Young mom says to me last month, “$800 a half! How am I supposed to afford that?!”

      Now, I’m all for ed reform and modernization and customization. More could be done for less if the up-front work got done.

      But really? $1600 a year is too much for you? Most of these taxes will go for schools, and ours are among the lowest taxes in a state that’s also fairly low.

      This woman has three children under 5, who can look forward to free education worth, what $10,000 each a year minimum? $25-30K in education, plus roads and protection,… for $1600? Unaffordable?

      Yet she still had enough to purchase a camper and permanent lakeside camp-spot two weeks later.