I'm not looking for a job, but... (a perpetual series)
A couple years ago a researcher invited me to a focus group about photovoltaics. It was great-- we sat in an air-conditioned conference room for a couple hours quaffing free beverages with a gourmet box lunch, socializing among fellow early adopters while
pontificating clarifying the joys & economics of goin' green. It's a real-world analogue of a discussion board-- or maybe discussion boards are virtual focus groups.
We were compensated for our time with a crisp $100 bill. Is this a great country or what?!?
Last week the research company that sponsored the focus group e-mailed an invitation to complete online surveys for about $5/hour in "free" prizes. I passed but I offered to attend more focus groups, so a few days later I sat in an "education" focus group. The company founder led the discussion while her clients sat behind the one-way glass with the recording equipment. The day's gourmet was Quizno's and our 90 minutes of labor was now only worth $60. We were five men & five women, parents of students at Oahu public & private schools.
From the questions, it gradually developed that a group of "concerned citizens" wanted to improve Hawaii's educational system by influencing the Board of Education. They wanted to educate voters and maybe run their own BOE candidates.
We're all voters and we claimed to be involved in the educational process, but none of us (me included) knew anything about the BOE. Heck, I can't even tell you what powers they have or how many members there are, let alone who they are or how they're doing. And if I wanted to fix a problem with our kid's school then the BOE would be last after a long list of teachers, counselors, principals, and the state's Dept of Education bureaucracy. I can't tell that the BOE has any initiative or veto effect on the educational process, although they're been involved with DOE in setting the standard school-year calendar and having seniors do a graduation project. I suspect that our kid's high-school principal takes credit for the good ideas and blames the BOE for the bad ones.
The group leader asked if "The Learning Coalition" was a good name for the group. There's a Los Angeles educational non-profit of that name but I don't know if the client is part of that or just trying to figure out if they should work with TLC. We agreed that it'd be helpful to have an election guide in a local newspaper and on various local websites. I'd probably spend about 10 minutes figuring out who I wanted to vote for, and maybe I'd be a little more informed on the BOE, but it'd hardly make a ripple on my consciousness. It cost the "concerned citizens" at least $600 plus Quizno's & beverages, plus the fees of the research company.
I don't know if I'll be invited back, and I have no idea what I'd spend the $60 on, but I enjoyed myself... an interesting couple of social hours.
The book written on E-R.org, "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement", on sale now! For more info see "About Me" in my profile.
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