Search the Site

How to Auction Off an Unwanted Duty

Photo Credit:

A high-school economics teacher named Steve Fortna writes from Colorado with a clever solution:

The Spirit Week (formerly known as Homecoming) Dance is upon us.  This Friday I will be pressed into service to monitor the dress and dance of around 150 kids while a DJ, who does not care about the moral development of young adults in their formative years, plays whatever music they want to hear.  Loudly.  I really do not want to be there.  I am not alone in that sentiment.  

My school has tried various methods of determining which teachers should be on chaperone duty at each dance over the years without much success.  Either we all go (way too many people but at least we’re all in the same boat), or only a select few (more efficient use of faculty, but it’s not fair).  While most teachers don’t particularly enjoy monitoring dances, there are different levels of unease.  What’s an equitable way to determine who’s on duty?

The economics teacher in me has found a solution.  Determine the ideal number of teacher chaperones, then auction off the right not to go to the dance to the highest bidders in a silent auction.  The low bidders would have to work the dance, but their low bids would indicate more of a willingness to be at the event in the first place.  The opposite would be true for the high bidders.  (I would happily pay upwards of $50 to avoid the dance.)  The money raised would be put into a pot for the year-end faculty party.

Actually, the same method could be used for any number of “adjunct duties” that teachers face: lunch duty, study halls, detentions, chapels, etc.  I can only think of a few drawbacks:  constantly bidding on getting out of tasks sends a bad message to students; some teachers that loathe certain tasks may also be the very ones who are best at (and most needed) doing them; and by the end of the year, the party pot would probably be big enough to fly everyone to Las Vegas.  Then again, maybe that’s not a bad thing.