Keeping the public annoyed

Marshall Clow e-mails:

Tonight, during dinner, I got a recorded phone call from “Dr. Donald Phillips, Superintendent of the Poway Unified School District” telling me that they were starting some new communications project, and that I could expect more calls like this “to keep me informed.” Trust school districts to adopt the very latest in annoying 1990s technology.

How much did they pay the consultant who suggested spam phone calls?

About Joanne


  1. My own school district has chosen to use this technology, but very judiciously. For example, before the May Day protests, parents across the district were called by the superintendent (or at least his recorded voice) and he explained, briefly, that students were expected to be in school.

    The PTSA from my son’s school has used the program once or twice, and so has his school principal–once when a student got off her bus at a different stop and didn’t get home that night (elementary age, not high school). Fortunately, a few hours later we got a call that the girl had been found safe and sound.

    Targeted calls are great. SPAM calls might merit having to listen to fingernails on a chalkboard for one hour.

  2. Wayne Martin says:

    Donald Philips has an email:

    found on this site:

    if anyone is interested in why he’s using telephone communication, rather than email — an quick email ought to get an answer.

    Usually when a school district wants to “keep people informed” .. it’s an overture that precedes a Bond Measure.

  3. Walter E. Wallis says:

    So far Palo Alto has limited automatic calls to lion alarms. Nothing about the molesters, however.
    Betcha all you lionless cities are jealous, hu?

  4. Wayne Martin says:

    Walter ..

    > So far Palo Alto has limited automatic
    > calls to lion alarms

    just a wee bit too obscure .. you need to explain in “plain speak”.

  5. Wayne Martin says:

    Schools are required to notify parents when kids are absent. It’s quite likely that the phone system is used for that purpose, primarily.

    There is no reason that a PC, connected to a school district’s information system should not be able to get the names/telephone numbers of all the kids who missed/skipped school, and call their homes using a pre-recorded message, and a text-to-speech module to insert the student’s name in the message so that it is personalized. According to someone in local school district, this sort of capability is now in use to reduce repetive work on the “classifieds”, as well as to keep costs under control.

    No reason not to use this system for other legitimate school purposes also.